When strolling through the Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market, it’s easy to find Borel’s Produce. Just look for the corner booth with the largest display of jarred pickled items, along with fresh seasonal vegetables. It’s where Patsy and Brent Borel offer a colorful memory of each season – particularly this year’s hot, dust bowl of a summer. Six years ago, the New Iberia couple took their shared passion for gardening to the Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market and have become a staple ever since.
The Borels grow some of the healthiest, largest varieties of vegetables ever seen. Once you purchase some of theirs, you’ll never look at produce in the grocery store the same. Customers are already looking forward to their huge late flat Dutch cabbage, and the cauliflower in yellow, green and purple – as well as the white – varieties. “The yellow and purple ones make a good LSU game-day vegetable tray,” Patsy points out. Their carrots could be entered into a county fair contest. In the summertime, it’s the Borels’ tomatoes that are the star – Brent cultivates nearly 2,000 plants. He also grows the heirloom green eggplants, which are more tender and with fewer seeds. “We always encourage customers to try a vegetable new to them,” says Patsy of the eggplant, which she thinks is a better variety. All of the vegetables and fruit are grown on one and a half acres and in a 30’ x 50’ greenhouse in the Borels’ backyard.
Patsy, who does the pickling, can’t say right off the top of her head how many varieties of vegetables she jars, as she keeps adding to the list. “If someone suggests it, I’ll pickle it,” she smiles. Best sellers include her bread and butter pickles – with and without onions – dill pickles, pickled mirlitons, okra, green beans, and pickled eggplant. The newest addition to the lineup includes red hot cinnamon pickles, a crunchy pickle creatively made with red hot candies, and her crawfish boil pickles, which she says she tried on a whim, to be silly, and they sold. “I try to satisfy everyone’s taste with sugar-free options, or without onions or bell peppers, or medium and hot spices,” says Patsy who grew up watching her mother and grandparents pickle.
Seasonal fruits feature prominently in Patsy’s preserves including customer favorites like strawberry, blackberry, muscadine, satsuma, kumquat, and pear, made from fruit the couple grows and also sourced from a local orchard.
The lineup of products also includes pepper jellies like roasted pecan, pineapple, fig, and crawfish boil, which are rotated into the samplings offered to customers. The Borels also sell cooked and fresh or frozen okra.
When Mother Nature limits Patsy and Brent’s produce supply, Patsy works on her artwork which includes resin glass art featuring coastal designs of crabs, sea turtles, sea horses, and alligators and paintings of familiar scenes, like her blue heron. For the holidays, look for her Christmas trees made of shells she’s picked at Holly and Rutherford Beach. When there’s time Brent, who is also a commercial black drum fisherman, makes crab drop nets, which usually sell out during the fishing season.
The Borel’s attend four other farmers markets, but say they like the Delcambre Market for the crowd of customers it attracts and friendly people. “The customers (and the vendors) make me like to come back,” says Patsy. “Brent likes it when people tell him they like his vegetables. We seem to have things that people want; customers, from all over, will pass on our name to others.”