To Market, To Market
● By Robert Frey
daBerry Fresh Market To Open On Hopkins Street By Shanna P. Dickens / Photos by Jennifer Beslin
Food nourishes the body just as positive energy nourishes the soul. Both work as healing agents, and when these elements come together, the result is a powerful form of rejuvenation. This is the mission of daBerry Fresh Market at 520 Hopkins Street in New Iberia.
“Da Berry Fresh Market is the biggest and riskiest project by Envision da Berry,” confides the organization’s president Phanat Xaname. “Having a place to get fresh fruits and vegetables has been a dream the community has pined for since we began working in the West End in 2011. We took the dream and sketched renderings of what a market could be, which then turned into a temporary public art installation. And then after many years of hard work alongside residents, volunteers, community partners on countless community gardens and farmers market, we attracted the private investors needed to build an actual brick and mortar storefront in the neighborhood.”
As a piece of public art, the building is best known by the mural of former New Iberia resident Bunk Johnson and his famous trumpet filling the area with a brightly hued rainbow. Today, as a market, the modest building is painted vividly and adorned with symbols and imagery representing positivity and unity. Parts of the building, like the pallet planters and the chalkboard wall, more closely resemble an artesian coffee shop.
“This all started from many intertwined visions,” expresses market manager Carl Cooper Jr. “It took a lot of creative energy and time to make this place become what it is. It took almost a year to complete it. It was a collective team effort the whole way. We had people helping who brought plenty of positive energy to the project.”
The volunteers Cooper mentions are a prefect prelude to the type of cohesion Envision da Berry hopes the market will bring about. One group came from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, while others came from churches closer to home, like Highland Baptist and The Church of Latter Day Saints. With the storefront ready, it’s time to introduce the mission to the community. Cooper believes the first steps toward change have already been made.
“It’s already putting off such a positive force,” he says emphatically. “You hear so many negative things about this area, and this will be a catalyst for positive change. When you start to eat differently, you start to change the frequencies of your body and your mind. This is going to provide that opportunity for the people who live around here.”
The market is currently facilitating an active Community Supported Agriculture program. Through the program local people can purchase a subscription and pick up a weekly package of fresh produce and goods at the market. The entire city is invited to take advantage of the opportunity for fresh produce. You can subscribe through squareup.com/market/envision-da-berry-2.
For now, daBerry Fresh Market is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The official ribbon cutting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 16 from 12 – 1 p.m. Local vendors have been providing homemade goods to stock the shelves. In addition to the canned and dried goods, produce will come from the Iberia Community Garden and a variety of local farmers from Jeanerette, Lafayette and Iberia. The garden located directly behind the market will also be a source for produce. Envision DaBerry’s mission for the market is that it will supersede it’s original goal of providing fresh produce for the West End of Iberia Parish and become a place where the community can gather for fellowship and festivities.
“I would like to see this become a place where there’s nothing but positive energy,” Cooper says looking around the space as if can picture the room full of bustling energy. “I can’t wait to see this place full vegetables, full of men, women and children having festivals. I want to hear people having liberating conversations. I want to see our community’s elders getting out and coming to a place where they feel comfortable. This is going to be a somewhere we can learn from each other. I can see a lovely energized spirit just vibing in here.”