Gardens, produce, food featured at Garden Fest

Richard C. Bogren, Kuehny, Jeff S.

News Release Distributed 06/18/13

BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 1,000 people braved the heat and humidity of a Louisiana June day to attend the Garden Fest at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on June 15.

One visitor, Carol Ducote, of Baton Rouge, enjoyed the omelets prepared by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and the Louisiana Egg Commission.

“It’s just wonderful – so informative and connected to the community,” Ducote said of the event. “There’s a lot to learn.”

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.

“The hayrides take people to the research area where they can see how to grow fruits and vegetables,” Kuehny said.

The research area also provided opportunities to taste and vote on samples of different varieties of tomatoes and peaches.

Leo Sanders, of Baker, came for the second year, and this time brought his wife, Terry.

“I enjoyed it so much last year, I came again,” said Sanders, who described himself as an avid gardener. And this year he planted new tomato varieties he tasted at last year’s event.

The Louisiana Culinary Institute prepared and served samples of dishes prepared with local products, and the Taste of Louisiana tent featured nine vendors with locally produced food products they are developing with assistance from the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator.

One of those participants was Elke Ellzey, who displayed Elkarita juice concentrates she developed and is marketing.

Ellzey developed the non-alcoholic, sugar-free juice concentrates in response to her husband’s diabetes. She now has three flavors – lime, mango and pomegranate – and is working with local grocers to get her products on the shelf.

A feature of this year’s garden fest was a cocktail challenge that pitted seven local bars and restaurants against each other to create the best cocktail that featured Louisiana ingredients. The winning establishment was Mason’s Grill, of Baton Rouge.

Much of the success of the Garden Fest was because of the efforts of participating organizations and their volunteers, Kuehny said. They included the Burden Horticulture Society, East Baton Rouge Master Gardeners, Herb Society, Bonsai Society and Camellia Society. In addition, the LSU AgCenter Plant Health Clinic was available to help gardeners diagnose plant maladies and offer remedies.

Proceeds from the event will be used to support research and extension programs conducted at Burden, Kuehny said.

Rick Bogren

6/18/2013 8:33:21 PM
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