Local hydroponic farm continues pop-up produce markets through pandemic

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 1:46 PM CDT
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The hydroponic tubes at GrayWalk Farms in Alexandria are full of fresh heads of butter and romaine lettuce, mustard greens, and herbs like basil.

Lately, all that home-grown goodness has been making it onto dinner plates more often here in Cenla.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, GrayWalk Farms has been selling their produce at pop-up markets at places like Little Cakes with Big Attitude and Beans N Cream Coffee, while the Alexandria Farmer's Market has been closed.

"We've been doing it for about six weeks now and it's really worked out well. The community seems to really embrace it,” said owner Jay Pearson.

The farm is a mostly wholesale produce operation, selling their vegetables in bulk to be distributed around the region, but they say they felt a need to keep local produce flowing into the community, while many chain grocery store shelves were running low.

"Since the pandemic we've seen that there is a big need since they've shut down the farmer's markets, to be able to go out and open ourselves to the community and give them some fresh produce,” added Pearson.

According to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices in America during the month of April saw the biggest one month increase since 1974, increasing by 2.6 percent.

While the prices of many grocery items continue rising in the U.S. because of supply chain disruptions and a larger demand for groceries with many people staying home more often, GrayWalk said they expect produce prices to remain steady. Especially on produce here at home, where it's harvested on a weekly basis in a sterile environment, with no travel time to your table.

"People really appreciate that and there's a big difference in taste too,” says Pearson. "There's nothing like supporting your local businesses. There's going to be a big shift in this community going local and trying to seek out that fresh produce. Whatever may be in season, they're going to be looking for it because they've gotten a taste."

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