Ashley Webb and her husband run Barcelo Gardens and its Farmer’s Market in the 9th Ward | Food and Drink | Weekly gambit
Ashley Webb and her husband Andres Barcelo-Sanchez created a community garden when they lived in Los Angeles. Webb was born in Lake Charles and raised in Lafayette, and the couple moved to New Orleans four years ago to be closer to their family. They started a garden near their house in the Upper 9th Ward, and now Barcelo Gardens hosts farmers’ markets the second and fourth Saturday of the month at 2301 rue Gallier from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In September, they kick off a first farmer’s market of the month in Tip Top Snowballs at 3317, avenue Franklin from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gambit: How did you get into gardening?
Ashley Webb: Ron finley is that man in Compton. In Los Angeles, everything is concrete. The space between the sidewalk and the road is considered property of the city, but it has started to plant there. He had the laws changed so that anyone who wants to plant there can plant there now.
There was a vacant space next to our apartment, so we started guerrilla gardening. We made a whole space with a small library and plants. The neighbors came to help us. It was cool. Most of the time we grew tomatoes, corn, flowers and things like that.
Gambit: What was your gardening plan in New Orleans?
Webb: When we moved here we realized the 9th Quarter was a bit of a food desert so we started planting. We tried to crash the neighbors, and they weren’t so enthusiastic. They were like, “Why don’t you plant okra for us or mustard greens?” When Covid started, we had a little more time, so we started doing the farmers’ market, and they seemed to like it.
We tried to grow the things we grew in Los Angeles initially, like corn, carrots, and tomatoes. The corn didn’t go too well, and the carrots didn’t go too well, so we changed what we grow. Right now we’re doing okra, long beans, cucumbers, hot peppers, and that sort of thing.
We came here with the idea that doing a community garden would be a great way to meet people. People always come to ask us questions. If anyone wants to plant, they are allowed to plant on the property. People were driving by and like, “Do you have any cucumbers or green vegetables? Someone suggested that we have a farmers market.
Empanola’s success is a family affair.
Gambit: How does the market work?
Webb: The first one was last July, and it went really well. Sometimes there are other farmers and we have other vendors. It was just vegetables, and then [we added] ready-to-eat foods, such as bread and hand pies. Usually it’s a mix, but I try to keep it related to food or body care so there are candles, soap, and baked goods. Some people bring pickles and jam. We had a darling guy. There is one person in the neighborhood who has garden eggs. I try to have what people need for good health like fruits and veg, then fun stuff like cookies and popcorn. I try to ensure that it is mainly blacks or people of color so that it remains representative of the neighborhood.
It’s getting to be all that big stuff. We are clearing a lot at the moment to be able to plant even more.
Didn’t know when we moved there that there weren’t any grocery stores, a few fast food outlets, convenience stores with po-boys or fried chicken. I think it’s good that when people come they buy the veg, not just the cookies or the griddle if we have a food vendor. My ultimate goal is to create a permanent space where we can have vendors who regularly sell vegetables.
For more information on the garden and markets, visit their Facebook page.
Diego Martin Perez on learning to bake and “forward baking”.