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Foodapalooza local foods summit set for Alexandria

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Central Louisiana’s regional food summit, Foodapalooza, is set Friday, Feb. 27, and organizers expect it to attract about 200 people.

The day-long event in Alexandria will feature seminars, such as planting a profitable garden for farmer’s markets, an introduction to worm casting, and developing food hubs. John Cotton Dean, regional food systems planner for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, anticipates the third annual event will be the largest one yet.

“We’re seeing the growth not only from the farmers, from the restaurants and the business owners, but also now at the municipal level. That’s really what we’re hoping for. As we see the local foods economy grow, we’re seeing more buy-in,” Dean said.

Local food production is a now a movement in central Louisiana, according Dean, who helps a dozen restaurants purchase food from local growers.

The town of Jonesville, in Catahoula Parish, passed a local food municipal ordinance this month – the first of its kind in Louisiana. Jonesville Mayor Hiram Evans says his town wants to make it easier to get locally grown food. He hopes it will make mom-and-pop roadside produce stands more common in Jonesville.

“Certain communities -- and even Jonesville -- had had such that individuals couldn’t come in to peddle or sell vegetables. We want to remove those obstacles whereby encouraging individuals to make it available,” Evans said.

Foodapalooza’s keynote speaker is Kathlyn Terry, the executive director of Appalachian Sustainable Development. The food summit is set for Feb. 27 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Kress Theatre in Alexandria. Registration is encouraged, but not required. More information is at freshcentral.org.

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