(04/11/23) VIOLET, La. — Bringing the farm to the city is the idea behind the LSU AgCenter’s AgMagic on the River event held recently at Docville Farm.
Of all the places that you would expect to see farm animals, the Greater New Orleans area would probably not be high on that list. But that is exactly the point of AgMagic, said LSU AgCenter agent Beth Gambel.
“AgMagic is designed to show urban and suburban children and adults that what we eat, what we wear and where we live are all a part of agriculture and natural resources,” Gambel said.
The AgCenter sponsors three AgMagic events around the state each year in Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Violet, which is outside of New Orleans.
“AgMagic features a variety of interactive exhibits of plants and crops, live farm animals, wildlife, bugs, fish, forests and food,” she said.
Just as it does every year, AgMagic on the River recently captured the imagination of thousands who came to Docville Farm to learn about agriculture and the environment in a fun and interactive way.
"We are proud to host and sponsor AgMagic on the River once again,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation, which operates the farm. “The interactive event not only teaches children about the importance of agriculture but also promotes a sustainable future. We believe that by educating the next generation, we are investing in a brighter future for our community and the world."
Gambel said nearly 2,000 students from 29 schools across the region explored exhibits that linked food and fiber products people use every day to the forests, field crops and livestock produced by Louisiana farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
“Featured crops were displayed in various stages of development,” she said. “This allowed students to understand the importance of the relationship between agriculture, the environment and society.”
Gambel said one of the most exciting exhibits was a demonstration crawfish pond that showed how crawfish are raised in shallow water where rice is grown and harvested.
“Free and open to the public, the event is always a good time for kids of all ages,” Gambel said. “We are grateful for our sponsors and the more than 160 volunteers who helped make this year so special.”
Another highlight of this year’s event was a reptile petting zoo organized by Wetland Watchers, a nationally recognized school-based service-learning project founded by Harry Hurst Middle School science teacher Barry Guillot.
“The exhibit drew in students by the hundreds,” Gambel said. “The exhibit gave students an intimate learning experience with dozens of snake, lizard and turtle species.”
Wall’s Alligator Farm provided another hit exhibit where attendees got to hold a baby alligator while learning about it.
About 500 attendees also got to take home a free tree courtesy of Plant the Parish and Valero.
AgMagic on the River is a community event presented annually by the LSU AgCenter. This year’s event was sponsored by the Meraux Foundation, the St. Bernard Parish Office of Tourism and Tourism Commission, Edward Jones financial adviser Joey Nieto, Bienville Capital Group, Emmett Dupas, St. Bernard School Board, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Valero Meraux Refinery, Entergy, Chalmette Refining, Metro Area Horticulture Committee, Hancock Whitney, Jefferson Volunteers for Family and Community and St. Bernard Volunteers for Family and Community.
A student overcame her fear of chickens while attending the LSU AgCenter AgMagic on the River event recently held at Docville Farm near New Orleans. Photo provided by Tony Peralta
This student got a rare opportunity to handle a live alligator while attending the LSU AgCenter AgMagic on the River event recently held at Docville Farm near New Orleans. Photo provided by Tony Peralta