The Top Ten Most Interesting Things about Laura Plantation in Vacherie
by: Miranda Lemke
1. The Laura Plantation is a Creole sugar cane plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana originally home to the Duparc family. A Louisiana Creole family has French,
Native American, Spanish, and African American influences on their heritage and way of life.
2. The Laura house is brightly painted yellow, red, and blue. These bright colors symbolize the Creole heritage in the 1900s. If a family were strictly modernized European Americans during this time, their house would be only white.
3. The Laura Plantation House, like many other homes found in Louisiana, is built on columns. Columns are used to raise the house off of the ground in case of flooding. Because the ground is silt, there is an extensive network of pyramid columns underground to keep the building from sinking.
4. The front of the house has 8 sets of doors for several reasons. The two sets of doors in the middle of the house are called “animal doors.” The animal doors were never used for people. Because the summers are very hot and humid, the middle sets of doors were left wide open to allow the breeze from the Mississippi River to flow in and cool the house. Animals and bugs often entered the house through these doors. A set of doors on the left and the right of the house were used to enter the business rooms of the women and man in charge of the plantation.
5. The Laura Plantation used salves to harvest their sugar cane. A total of 69 slave houses were constructed in a 3.5 mile stretch along the side of the plantation.
6. Cooking was not allowed in slave houses. For this reason, there was a communal kitchen that served breakfast and lunch.
7. The Laura plantation used gardens to grow fresh produce. A communal garden was designed to grow bananas. A total of 9 different varieties of bananas are grown, which includes the normal yellow bananas and varieties that are blue, red, orange, and white.
8. At one point, the Laura Plantation was used as a sugar cane plantation and a winery. Old wine bottles were then used as flower bed boarders because the
glass insulates the ground better.
9. The Creole heritage is very different from today’s modernized American heritage. Creole families believe in the “laissez-faire” policy where the laws are flexible for certain things. Creole families also believe “business was family, and the family was business” meaning the business could only be passed down only to family members.
10. Laura, who the plantation is name after, disowned her family’s sugar cane plantation and the Creole heritage. She ran the family business for only 10 years before she sold everything.
Spicing It Up!
by: Cassie Olson
This morning, the UMN Agricultural Education Club or, as we like to say, “The Bayou Brigade” said “see you later” to New Orleans, and took to the road to check out other sites throughout the state. With over four hours of total car-bonding time, we can easily say we are learning not only about the agriculture in the south, but also one another.
We kicked off the morning by heading to Vacherie for a morning tour of Laura’s Plantation. This historic sugar plantation was built in 1805 and offered a very informative tour for our group. Included in our tour was a showcase of the plantation home and office building, which has survived both a fire and multiple hurricanes over the years, including Hurricane Katrina. We then received a tour of the rest of plantation, which included slave cabins, various fruit trees, and a viewing of the sugarcane field. Overall, our group was very impressed by the tour, and enjoyed the knowledge we gained during our time.
The Bayou Brigade adventures didn’t stop there. Following our tour and a lunch stop, we ventured to Avery Island to take a look at the Tabasco plant. Tabasco hot sauce peppers are grown on this island, and the company is family owned and run. It was wonderful to see the passion the McIlhenny family puts into insuring a perfect product for their consumer. Just as our students share their passion for agriculture, farmers and professionals within the agriculture industry share a passion for producing a safe and affordable product. We are proud to share this common interest.
Following a day of tours, our group enjoyed a dinner of Louisiana favorites during a brief stop in Lafayette. We now are now having a relaxing evening in Alexandria in preparation for a day at Louisiana State University tomorrow. It is easy to see that our group is learning a great deal about unique agricultural systems, and are excited to continue doing so throughout our trip.
Yours in spicy cuisine,
Gumbo, Jumbalaya, and Alligator….Eating in the Big Easy
by: Doreen Lorentz
Being from the Midwest, the majority of the food that U of M students eat on a regular basis is a little…bland, to say the least. A shirt that we saw in the French Quarter sums up Minnesota eating perfectly, and it said “I put ketchup on my ketchup.” Needless to say, having the opportunity to come to Louisiana and try food that most Minnesotans wouldn’t dream of cooking up for themselves was one of the things I was most excited about!
The first real “southern” food that I had the opportunity to try was gumbo, which is a soup that has all sorts of different seafood in it. The gumbo I had contained crab, shrimp, and crawfish, and it was delicious. Seriously, it might be my new favorite food.
Among other interesting foods people have tried include: fried alligator, crawfish, jumbalaya, catfish, beignets, corn maque chous (endorsed by Miranda Lemke), and fried oysters! Trying these foods definitely expanded our horizons as eaters, and hopefully we’ll bring some new ideas home to the kitchens of Minnesota.