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The Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center honoring Negro Farmers of St. Landry Parish

Negro Farmers of St. Landry Parish
Posted at 3:30 AM, Feb 17, 2022

John Chenier comes from a long line of farmers.

"They didn't get rich, but they made a living," Chenier said. "We had plenty of food to eat, a roof over our head, we were blessed. We were blessed with a lot of things that we took for granted at the time. This is part of my life, being a farmer."

One of 23 children, Chenier said he learned at an early age how to farm the land; he said he loved every minute of it.

"We didn't have to worry about healthcare because we were always healthy," Chenier said. "We had the right food and my parents always said that food is your medicine. What we eat is what we are."

At 18, Chernier said he thought he wanted something more, but it did not take long for him to realize that farming is in his blood.

"Actually, when you go out there and taste something and it doesn't taste right," Chenier said. "Not like my Mom cooked it. I came back to my roots, planted stuff, and you can taste how good it is."

That taste came from years of cultivating soil, knowing the land, and doing it all by hand.

"Harvesting, washing, packing, everything is done by hand," Chenier said. "There is no air-conditioned tractor with a radio playing....it's turning over the soil, walking in the soil, knowing where your food is coming from is a blessing for me."

Today, Chenier passed his farming knowledge onto his children and grandchildren.

"I tell my wife Betty all of the time that I feel blessed, even though they aren't here at the farm, at least they know how to raise what they want to eat. People think giving people a lot of money---it's teaching children how to work and grow their own food and what they want."

Chenier said he stayed true to his roots and will keep going as long as he is able to do it.

Farming is a reminder of where he came from and the blessing it has brought to his life.

WHAT: Honoring Negro Farmers of St. Landry Parish

WHO: The general public is invited

WHEN: February 17, 2022 from 1 to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center, 315 N Main St., Opelousas, LA 70570

CONTACT: Patrice Melnick 337-948-2589; museum@cityofopelousas.com