[Image: southern oasis conversation]
[Image: incubator sales]
[Image: middleton and dejean]
News Release Distributed 06/23/14
BATON ROUGE, La. – An estimated 2,000 people braved the heat and humidity of a Louisiana June day to attend the third annual Garden Fest at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on June 21.
Two visitors, Jimmy DeJean and Dee Middleton, of Covington enjoyed the omelets prepared by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and the Louisiana Egg Commission.
DeJean, a Master Gardener in St. Tammany Parish, said he went to learn more about vegetables.
Making the trip “seemed appropriate,” DeJean said. “I came to learn and have a fun day in the outdoors.”
“I love anything outdoors,” said Middleton, also a St. Tammany Master Gardener. “I came to see what’s going on from people who know how to grow things.”
She had even brought a sample to the plant clinic for diagnosis by LSU AgCenter “plant doctor” Raj Singh.
The main emphasis of the Garden Fest was to show people how they can grow their own produce, buy locally produced foods and use Louisiana food products, said Jeff Kuehny, resident director of Burden.
“We want to help promote local products,” Kuehny said. “We have local growers, local chefs and several companies from the AgCenter Food Incubator. We also have three distillers and seven bars participating in the craft cocktail contest.”
One company in the incubator is Fresina’s Italian Specialties, of Baton Rouge.
Daniel Thompson and Robert D’Agostino bought the business in July 2013 from the prior owners whose family started the operation in 1926.
Thompson and D’Agostino, both chefs, continue to produce artisan pastas based on the Fresina recipes and have added pasta sauces to their product line.
They make the pastas in their shop and produce the sauces in the AgCenter incubator.
“We needed the commercial equipment to do the sauces,” D’Agostino said.
One feature was the new all America garden vegetable trials that includes tomatoes and peppers in addition to displays of about 100 vegetables and annual flowers, Kuehny said.
“People can vote for their favorite flowers,” he said. Voting in the gardens is open through the summer and is part of a nationwide program to select people’s favorites.
Along with commercial vendors Mizell's Farms Inc., of Folsom, and Southern Oasis, of Baton Rouge, event participants included the Burden Horticulture Society, Herb Society, Bonsai Society and Camellia Society.
The East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners and LSU AgCenter Plant Health Clinic provided information and answered questions.
Proceeds from the event will be used to support research and extension programs conducted at Burden, Kuehny said.Rick Bogren