In a former life, Kevin Boutte was “one of those telemarketers who called you to donate to the Fraternal Order of Police.” He was living in Alexandria, and he moved back to his hometown to be close to family. 

In 2009, he started gardening. “It went on from there,” Boutte said.

He has been a fixture for the last several years at area farmers markets, selling his fresh vegetables, as well as his goodies from the kitchen. “I still go to the Teche Area Festival and Farmers Market, and the first Saturday is the Delcambre market. I send some of my extras and sell my jellies to Gonsoulin Land and Cattle, too,” he said.

He’s doing okay, he says, not that he hasn’t had his share of ups and downs. “In 2017, my dad. James Boutte, passed away at 94. I lost my passion for gardening for a while,” he added. 

He’s raising chickens now; he’s added yard eggs to his list of farm-to-table products. “For a while, I had about a hundred chickens. I’d let them free-range during the day and lock them up at night,” he said. “Raccoons, or hawks or something has gotten into them, I only have about thirty left right now, they’re laying about 15-17 eggs a day.” He plans to build up his flock, and hope for the best.

Boutte also cooks and produces some of the most sought-after items at the farmers market. “I’m into chicken noodle soup right now. I’m selling that, and of course, my jellies. His most popular seems to be his Caribbean red and Thai pepper jelly. “Yep, they like that one, it is one of my favorites as well. I’ve been experimenting with the different heat levels, I made a ghost pepper jelly, and people disagree about the spice in that one,” said Boutte. “Another of my favorites is my blackberry jalapeno jam. Sweet with a little kick.”

He is also perfecting a lemon jelly to sell. “No one makes that, someone challenged me to make lemon jelly,” he said.

He owes his love for cooking and gardening to his parents. “I learned to cook from watching my mother. My dad could build anything. He took steel pipes and made tables, he made dollies to carry the big heavy plants around.”

His favorite thing to cook? “Oh, that depends on the weather, the time of year, my mood,” he said. “I love to make gumbo, because it takes all day. I remember my mother starting in the early morning, and the gumbo wouldn’t be ready until late afternoon. People these days just don't have the time to give to that kind of cooking.” 

As with most local farmers, the pandemic affected him greatly, personally and professionally. “I didn’t see my mom for more than a year, thank heavens things are opening up finally,” he said. “We had a good crowd last Saturday, it was Mother’s Day, but I think people are getting out finally.” And he did see his mother — he surprised her for Mother’s Day. 

Boutte, who grows his produce mostly from seed, anticipates having okra in the next two months, cucumbers and blackberries. He still has some cleanup work to do in the rows from the intense cold the area experienced last winter. His long range plans include getting out of the gardening business and more into raising his chickens and cooking. “I cook in streaks,” he said.

 

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