Shreveport

Last Modified: September 13, 2008Homegrown in Shreveport-Bossier

Homegrown in Shreveport Bossier
By Allen Marsalis

The South has a deep heritage for all things homegrown. Roadside stands and markets once dotted our highways offering locally produced items such as tomatoes, corn, black-eyed peas, okra, turnip and mustard greens, cane syrup, pecans, and honey. Did I forget to mention fresh squash and cucumbers? How about some roasted peanuts or mayhaw jelly?

A special treat for the youngsters in those days was a stalk of sugar cane which cost about 10 cents.
My father would peel and cut it up into bite size pieces and we would chew it for a few minutes then spit out the dry fiber when no more juice was left. If you never experienced a good chaw of sugar cane before, then there is a good chance that you are under 40 years old and not born in the south.

Homegrown goods have now developed into a specialty niche for many local growers who maintain traditions passed down though generations. One such producer is Billy Hummer with Hummer and Son, a producer of 100% Louisiana honey.

Sweet Success!
Hummer and Son started out in 1986 as a 4-H project with father Stanley Hummer and his son Billy. This father and son hobby grew steadily each year into a commercial operation which continues to expand to this day. Stanley is no longer with us, but I’m sure he would be proud of his son for maintaining and growing the business that they built and enjoyed together.

Hummer and Son offers a variety of products and services such as bee keeping supplies and equipment. Billy Hummer even serves bees to farmers to better help pollinate crops.
But it is the local honey that Billy produces that is the real “liquid gold” of his operation. Hummer and Son keep over 400 colonies that produce over 100 drums of honey every year.

That’s a lot of honey!

Billy continues to expand his product line to now offer 100% Louisiana honey sauces such as Honey Mustard and Honey BBQ sauce. His products started out for sale at boutique stores such as Fairfield Grocery and Gullo’s early on. Hummer and Son products are now available at many area Brookshire and Kroger stores and even at Wal-Mart. Way to go Billy! But Billy has not forgotten his roots and he still sells honey to lots of local bakeries and restaurants. Many of you are likely familiar with the famous Humphrey Yogart drink from Counter Culture which features Hummer and Son Louisiana honey.

I asked Billy about the differences between Louisiana honey and other products on the market coming from other honey producing areas such as Russia, Argentina, China, and Vietnam.

Besides playing a role in boosting our local economy, his Louisiana honey is strained at a lower temperature rather than being super filtered and blended at much higher temperatures. The result is a more natural product that is packed by hand with care.

Hummer and Son also sponsor the bee exhibit at the Sci-port Discovery Center on the riverfront which features a live colony safely behind a glass partition for your observation and enjoyment. I encourage you to take your youngsters to Sci-port and witness the working bee colony for yourself, then drop by the store and purchase some Hummer and Son honey to taste what it’s all about. I cannot imagine a sweeter educational experience. Hummer and Son also welcomes walk-in customers at their headquarters on Sligo Road just south on Highway 71. Their website is www.hummerandsonhoney.com.


Tomatoes and Okra And Beans, Oh my!

Today’s supermarkets import fruit and vegetables from all around the world. So where do you go for some real fresh homegrown veggies? Don’t worry, you don’t have to pick up a shovel or even have a “green thumb” to enjoy the fresh flavor of a homegrown garden. The Shreveport Farmers Market at the Festival Plaza on the riverfront is the place where local farmers gather together to sell their homegrown produce.

How convenient!

The Shreveport Farmers Market offers the homegrown fruits and vegetables that you would expect to find at an old-time roadside market.

Butter beans, peas, cantaloupes, and of course tomatoes are among the favorites that you will see drawing customers in from all around the Ark-la-tex. My favorite items to pick up include fresh locally grown blueberries and butter beans which I freeze and eat long after the harvest ends.I spoke with Virginia Payne with the Red River Revel organization that operates the Shreveport Farmer’s market. She clued me in on what to look forward to this year. In the past, the Farmer’s Market was open for business two mornings per week. However this year their schedule has changed to one morning and one afternoon per week. I am excited by this opportunity to stop by on my way home after work. I can then start my supper pot boiling and save space in my refrigerator.

Some new additions this year at the Farmer’s Market include live bluegrass music, knife sharpening, and Louisiana wine for sale. Not only are fresh vegetables good for your health, Life Share Blood Center will be there offering free blood pressure checks, so a trip to the Farmer’s Market could be a life saving experience.

The Shreveport Farmers Market will open this year on June 2nd and continue operating throughout the growing season. During peak season, over 50 vendors are expected to participate. Hours of operation are from 7am to 11:30am on Saturday mornings, and 4pm to 7pm on Tuesday evenings.

For more information on the Shreveport Farmers Market, please contact Virginia Payne, Marketing Manager at 424-4000 or you may send an email to rrr@redriverrevel.com.