Through 8 generations, the sleepy Morrow family farm in Ponchatoula has had its ups and downs. Eric Morrow says, “One of the biggest challenges for us is getting access into the local markets because we don’t really produce 18-wheeler loads of stuff. We might have a pallet of this and a pallet of that.”
This spring, he farmed glistening eggplant, bags of corn, fresh red beans and boxes upon boxes of yellow and red heirloom tomatoes. With rising fuel prices and competition from larger farms in California, Morrow struggles to sell his goods, but some entrepreneurs are hoping to change that through a “food hub” called Jack and Jake’s.
According to Jeanne Green, who works for Jack and Jake’s, “It supports our local economy and the food is just better. The less it has to travel the better this is and the fresher it is.” The ‘food hub’ connects 200 farmers and fishermen from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and then distributes their products across the state. It reduces shipping costs and keeps our money local.
Morrow says, “When 80 cents of every dollar probably heads to California, that only leaves 20 cents back here but when we have the whole dollar that stays here in our local economy then that generates more economy for us.”
Jack and Jake’s also aims to alleviate food deserts, which are a major problem in New Orleans- areas with plenty of small convenience stores, but little access to fresh food. “We have so many communities that have this food desert,” says Green, “And we want to get into those communities and get fresh produce where they might only have a convenience store and get them this fresh, local produce.”
Jack and Jake’s will begin delivering to restaurants, markets and schools and eventually plans to open a retail store, bringing the best Louisiana has to offer to the communities that need it most.