Historic downtown Hammond—a living reminder of the small town that existed before Hammond sprung up as a thriving bedroom community between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It’s a place where half the buildings model old brick and trains pass through a tunnel of crape myrtles.
I drove up there with my family and an old friend to spend a Saturday morning on West Thomas Street, which houses several small shops and restaurants. Our main goal for the day was to check out the farmer’s market, which had both fresh produce and local arts & crafts. After a good ten minutes of wrong turns and failures to follow directions from Google Maps (only because we’re directionally challenged), we finally stumbled across West Thomas Street. And as a bonus, it had a good-sized and FREE parking lot waiting for us. (I get excited about free parking lots in downtown areas—something I’m not used to in New Orleans.)
Anyway, the farmer’s market was set up right across from the parking lot. It was much smaller than I expected, as it only took five minutes to see all the stands. There were also more art & crafts than produce, which I found surprising. But the market is currently searching for more farmers, so that may change in the future. For more information about contributing, registration forms are available at http://dddhammond.com/Retail/HammondArtsCraftsMarket/tabid/99/Default.aspx.
Despite its size, the market still had things to offer. The Poche Family Farm had a table laden with eggplant, squash, bell pepper, peas, okra, and parsley and basil sprigs. Another table, hosted by Arcola Nursery and Sandra’s All Thumbs Nursery, overflowed with young plants like crape myrtles and moss roses. I only wish I’d seen their table before plant shopping at Home Depot the other week. As for the crafts, Creations by Dianne Kaye sold flip-flops with crocheted straps. There were also several stands selling yard art and jewelry.
But for me, a farmer’s market isn’t just about the products. It’s about the people and the personal interaction you don’t get in a normal grocery store. I talked to Amy and Katie Guilbeau, the mother-daughter team at the Henderson’s Hearth table. They had a variety of things to offer, such as jams, dried herbs (rosemary, spearmint, basil, etc.), and custom recipe mixes (soups, scones, bread etc.) They may have been there to sell, but chatting with customers seemed important to them. They gave out free samples and made suggestions to personalize their recipe mixes. Once they even disagreed in a typical mother-daughter fashion over whether jalapenos and chilies would be good additions to their scone recipe. In the end, we bought a split pea and lentil soup mix, called Henderson soup, after enjoying a friendly chat.
For anyone who would like to visit, the market is open every Saturday morning from 8:00-12:00. The vendors attending vary from weekend to weekend, but the market’s Facebook page tells you who will be showing up each week. You can check it out at https://www.facebook.com/HammondFarmersMarket.
After you’ve finished browsing the farmer’s market, there are many antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants to check out in historic downtown Hammond. For more, check out my next blog coming soon!