“Some of my favorite childhood memories are those of time spent at my Grandparents’ farm.
Unfortunately, my Grandfather died when I was eight and our family’s farming operation only lasted a
couple more years. However, the seed had been sown in me and I always dreamed of someday
becoming a farmer myself.
Shortly after having turned thirty years old in the Summer of 1998, I decided to try and make my dream
become my reality. I was only a couple months into clearing away twenty years of underbrush and weeds
from my Grandparents’ overgrown fields when I got a visit from Red Stick Farmer’s Market Co-Founder
Chris Campany. He told me about the opportunity to sell my produce directly to customers at the weekly
market in Baton Rouge and asked if I was interested. I told him that I was definitely interested, but that I
hadn’t even planted my first crop! He laughed and told me not to worry, but to keep working and that
once I did begin to harvest, he would have a place for me. In my mind, that is the day I became a
member of the RSFM and twenty five years later I am proud to say I still am.
A lot has happened in the past twenty five years; Ginger and I got married and have welcomed three
sons into our family, we’ve had good years and bad years, floods and hurricanes, expanded our
operation and reduced it, and through it all the RSFM has been there, providing us with a consistent
place to sell what we make and grow thereby helping us to financially support our family in an industry
that, at best, can be described as unpredictable.
Which brings us to the present.
In 2019, a newly emerged, aggressive strawberry plant disease known as neopestalotiopsis was
identified in Florida. It has since begun to spread worldwide. This disease affects both plant and fruit and
ultimately causes vascular collapse and death in strawberry plants. Once introduced into an area, the
disease lives on in the soil and surrounding native vegetation from year to year and there are currently
no known varieties of strawberry plants that are immune, nor are there fungicides that provide more
than marginal protection. This disease was confirmed in my soil in May of 2022 during a lab analysis of a
plant tissue sample taken from my field and conducted by my LDAF Extension Agent. This disease is still
present in this year’s crop and is responsible for us reaching < 10% of our projected minimum financial
goal for the 2023 season.
In light of these results and with no expected future improvement, we believe that our farming
operation has become financially unsustainable. We have decided to stop. Saturday, July 1st will be our
Our baby boys have grown into fine young men and are each currently pursuing their own dreams.
Ginger and I are fortunate to have already found employment outside the farm. She as the
Administrative Manager at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, LA and myself as a Senior Project Manager
at ELOS Environmental Consultants in Hammond, LA.
We would like to thank the RSFM staff, fellow market members and our dedicated customers for
supporting and encouraging us all these years. We would also like to thank the BREADA Board and RSFM
Advisory board for their unceasing efforts to keep the market going strong, with integrity and for helping
to guide it to become the successful entity it is today.
I would also like to personally give a very special and heartfelt thanks to former Director Copper Alvarez,
Director Darlene Rowland and Deputy Director Lisa Gray. These ladies have had my back at times when
no one else has. I am eternally grateful to each of you. Thank you.
Folks this is not goodbye, just see you later and always remember that we love you all!
William, Ginger, Brett, Jake and Luke.
Fletcher Family Farm, Ponchatoula, La.”