Gallery: ReMarketAble [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Shanna Perkins | Photos Submitted By Iberia Development Foundation
The Iberia Development Foundation’s mission is to “Promote economic and community development through providing educational and technical assistance to businesses, organizations and individuals to help our community grow and prosper.” The newest venture of the Iberia Development Foundation is an innovative mobile means of Recycling reusAble materials from local farmers Markets – it’s ReMarketAble.
“Through the Iberia Development Foundation, we have been heavily involved in the development and sustainability of local food access and farmers markets,” explains BestLife Iberia Project Manager Marti Harrell. “One of the issues associated with local food production is the trash it produces. We started looking at items that could be reused or remarketed through the farmers market. We came up with the concept of having a collection trailer that travels from market to market collecting items that local food producers can reuse through the farmers market system.”
Little Green Triangle
As the 501(c)3 non-profit partner of the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation, Iberia Development Foundation seeks means to enhance the community by supporting small and micro businesses. Naturally when the Keep Louisiana Beautiful Foundation put out a request for proposal for The Healthy Communities Grants to the tune of $10,000, they jumped at the opportunity to get ReMarketAble rolling.
“The primary purpose of our Healthy Communities Grants program is to help local governments and organizations in communities across the state make an impact on Louisiana’s litter problem,” explains Keep Louisiana Beautiful Program and Affiliates Coordinator Sarah Kelley. “Healthy Communities Grants recipients host major cleanups on roadways and waterways, educate students on the harmful effects of litter and promote recycling efforts. Keep Louisiana Beautiful provides the tools and resources to volunteers looking to make a difference in their communities.”
As Harrell likes to say, Keep Louisiana Beautiful deals with anything involving “that little green triangle,” she says referencing the recycling symbol. The ReMarketAble team’s goal was always to present something that was as creative as it was beneficial to the environment and the community.
The concept they submitted was a system of specialized bins mounted on a trailer that will regularly travel to Iberia Parish farmers markets. Patrons will be asked to return items that can be reused and place them in the designated bins. Market vendors will reuse items like glass-canning jars, egg cartons and crates and plastic planting pots. The Keep Louisiana Beautiful team was impressed and excited by ReMarketAble concept.
“Keep Louisiana Beautiful has never received a grant proposal like this one,” Kelley admits of ReMarketAble. “We love that this program is grass roots oriented and sustainable for years to come. The ReMarketAble plan is creative in seeking a solution to many different problems at once. It touches many segments of the community – local businesses and consumers alike. Keep Louisiana Beautiful believes that this program will be highly effective and easily replicated in other communities.”
To Market, To Market
Iberia Development Foundation works closely with the Acadiana Growers Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and sustaining locally grown produce and improving the accessibility of healthy food options. It was through this close affiliation that they began to realize that the biggest struggle of the growers and vendors were the added cost items, like containers. Iberia Development Foundation Project Manager Evelyn Ducote explains that as the needs of the growers evolve, so will ReMarketAble.
“We get new vendors all the time that come into the Acadiana Growers Alliance and they might develop new needs as they develop new products,” adds Ducote. “So we’ll be working with them on a regular basis to say ‘Hey, what are your needs? What could be reused and collected?’ We have that ability because all of these bins are on the back of a trailer, so we can swap them out if we don’t need them one month or if a larger bin is required. It’s set up so we can judge the needs and the capacity. It’s very easy to adapt.”
In addition to glass jars, egg cartons and plastic containers, they hope to have bins for plastic T-shirt bags and newspapers that can be used to transport products to the market. During planting season, patrons will be able to return the small plastic pots that starter plants are sold in so that they can be repotted and resold. Because market vendors have their own processing facility for cleaning and sanitizing, everything is reused in a small circle. Nothing has to be hauled away to a recycling plant.
Ducote explains how keeping the circle of reuse tight benefits not only the vendors, but also the entire community. “People within the community know that when they bring back items and put them on the ReMarketAble trailer it will actually be used and remarketed and not just hauled off and thrown in the trash,” she explains. “A lot of people are concerned about that. They want to be able to help the community and the vendors and feel like they’re being a part of the whole recycling program. This way they can feel confident that someone else in the community benefitted from it. They can directly help small businesses.”
Ducote states that 85 percent of businesses within Iberia Parish are classified as small or microbusinesses. So in addition to removing trash from the local waste stream, ReMarketAble will create a direct person-to-person benefit.
“The bottom line is, the economic impact that it has on the sustainability is part of our economic goals,” Harrell explains. “It’s kind of one of those hand-in-gloves things. Sustainability, food access and economic development all benefit. It’s a win-win situation all the way around.”
The grant money will also be used to further benefit the community through supporting series and free workshops conducted by the Iberia Development Foundation and the Acadiana Growers Alliance. The workshops will focus on promoting environmentally responsible topics such as kitchen recycling, garden reuse and sustainable growing techniques.
Initially, the ReMarketAble trailer will be used at the farmers markets associated with the Acadiana Growers Alliance – Acadiana Growers Alliance Farmers Market, Delcambre Seafood and Farmers Market and the Jeanerette Farmer’s Market. Eventually, it will be used anywhere within the Parish that items can be collected for reuse.
November 15 is America Recycles Day, but Iberia Development Foundation has decided to make it Iberia Recycles Month. It will be complete with programs, activities and the big reveal of the ReMarketAble trailer. Follow Facebook.com/BestLifeIberia for updates.