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Moonlight Market unveils tribute to market co-founder Sharon Litwin

Call it a token of affection.

On Saturday, when The Crescent City Farmers Market celebrates its 21st birthday with Moonlight Market, its annual fundraiser, the festivities will include a unique tribute to Sharon Litwin: a special $10 Founder’s Token bearing her image.

Sharon Litwin (photo by Jason Kruppa)

Sharon Litwin (photo by Jason Kruppa)

Sharon, who passed away in June, not only was co-founder of NolaVie, but also a co-founder of the Crescent City Farmers Market, which operates as the public face of the non-profit organization MarketUmbrella. Of all the programs and projects and organizations Sharon had a hand in during her active and energetic civic life, she was proudest, she once told me, of these two.

One of Sharon’s favorite (and oft-recounted) stories involved the small storm of controversy that arose when creators initially named the new farmers market the Green Market. New York City, it seemed, also had a Green Market – and its directors sent the New Orleans entrepreneurs a cease and desist letter telling them to stop using the monicker. Rather than fight (the Big Apple) City Hall, Sharon and company promptly renamed their concern the Crescent City Farmers Market … and then had some fun with the entire affair. “It ain’t easy being green,” Sharon quipped in explaining the new name.

When then-market director Richard McCarthy came up with the token program for market shoppers, Sharon was immediately entranced by the idea. In 2012, she wrote about the mock currency for NolaVie.

An innovative token system has reshaped buying trends at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

An innovative token system has reshaped buying trends at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

The tokens are used as a market currency. Shoppers who don't have cash can use credit cards or checks in exchange for the wooden tokens. Shoppers use them to buy market goods, and then vendors turn them in for reimbursement.

Some of the market tokens pay tribute to market family members who have passed away. One pays homage to Jamie Shannon, former Commander's Palace chef, while another honors culinary force Lee Barnes. Last year, Market Umbrella unveiled a token honoring W.B. Reily.

This year, the brand new $10 token will be a Founders Token, in honor of “our beloved co-founder Sharon Litwin.”

“Sharon was my sounding board, my cheerleader and an overall creative force for good,” says Kate Parker, Market Umbrella Executive Director. “When I joined MarketUmbrella and the Crescent City Farmers Market in December 2013, Sharon welcomed me wholeheartedly. She always made time to meet and talk with me when I was stuck and needed her help. I know I am just one of dozens of leaders in this city she supported in this way. I will miss her special combination of frankness and kindness. We will honor her contributions as a founder of the Crescent City Farmers Market by growing our community of vendors and shoppers for generations to come.”

Look for Sharon's smiling face on the new token at any of the weekly markets:

  • Tuesday Market - Uptown
    9am - 1 pm, 200 Broadway St., near the river
  • Wednesday Market- French Market
    1 - 5 pm, between Ursulines & Governor Nicholls
  • Thursday Market - Mid-City
    3 - 7 pm, 3700 Orleans Ave., near the Bayou
  • Saturday Market -  Downtown
    8nam - Noon, 700 Magazine St., at Girod St.

Moonlight Market takes place at 725 Magazine Street from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. The event will feature food from great New Orleans restaurants, garden-to-glass cocktails, local beer, live music from the Brass-A-Holics, and a silent auction. A spirited Patron Party will be held upstairs at Reyn Studios from 6-7 pm.  Then, a bell will ring downstairs to symbolize the beginning of the Moonlight Market. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased here.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]