BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — While the pandemic put a strain on organizations, downtown Baton Rouge is once again coming back to life on Saturday mornings thanks to the Red Stick Farmers Market.

Established in 1996, the market was born out of a school project by student Chris Campany, who was working toward his Master’s degree at LSU. More than two decades later, farmers say the market has become the bread and butter of their livelihood.

“As a small family farm, growing produce is really only about half the battle,” said William Fletcher of Fletcher Family Farm in Ponchatoula. “So, when I say the Red Stick Farmers Market has been here for me – my entire farming career – it has literally been here before I had anything to sell.”

The market provides a family-like atmosphere while encouraging future shoppers to enroll in the “Red Stick Sprouts” program for children, ages 2-12. Sprouts aims to educate kids on where their food is grown. Sign-up is free and upon enrollment, children receive a market tote bag and $2 in market tokens to spend with local farmers. Each time they visit, they receive an additional $2 in market tokens and a kid-friendly recipe card, according to the BREADA website.

Betty Chenier with Chenier Farms in Opelousas said seeing children at the market is something she looks forward to every weekend. “It’s a wonderful feeling meeting people. A lot of friends, family-oriented environment and we see kids that have grew [sic] up on your vegetables and potatoes,” said Chenier.

The market is also equipped to accept SNAP (Louisiana Purchase card), WIC and Senior Nutrition Farmers coupons. The “Red Stick Rewards” program matches dollar for dollar up to $15.

Red Stick Farmers Market is held year-round at various locations throughout the city. On Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, fresh produce and more lines the street at the corner of Fifth and Main streets downtown. For the latest schedule of events and locations, visit here.