Video

Super Salads with no cides at Cotton Street Farms!

Michael Billings grew up in Shreveport, LA and after high school left to travel the world. He came back to town to be a dad and he wasn’t finding opportunities that fit his interests. His dad suggested that he make his own opportunity. That’s exactly what he did when he founded the hydroponic Cotton Street Farms.

Michael Billings

Michael Billings cutting herbs at Cotton Street Farm

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

packaging a salad from Cotton Street Farm

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

Hydroponic plants at Cotton Street Farms

Hydroponic plants at Cotton Street Farms

Michael Billings

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

Michael’s family was involved in alternative farming for 20 years. His dad taught him how to take something traditional and make it benefit and useful to himself. Mike said that it is not always practical to grow plants indoors commercially. But, he says if you have a business model that caters to your community, and you have interesting quality products, he is showing that you can grow food indoors in the middle of the city, even in a depressed city. You could go to the big chain grocery store or you could go to Cotton Street Farms, spend the same amount of money and leave with a way more tasty product. It’s the best smelling, tasting, cleanest produce that you can find within hundreds of miles. He says his system uses clean water, organic fertilizers, no pesticides, no fungicides, no herbicides . . . no cides! It will blow you mind walking in the door. Cotton Street Farms control the atmosphere, humidity and lighting frequency. Everything done is for the highest benefit of the plant and it just grows big, strong, colorful, and tasty.

Micheal is working to develop a local educational program, that businesses can sponsor, to help bring grow kits to schools and teach children about growing their own food with no cost to the school. In fact, Michael says that if anyone wants to help, there are many volunteer opportunities at the farm. He said he can always use help.

Michael says he has been growing in the current location for about 9 months. The day Ed and I stopped by, there were rows of beautiful green leafy foods. Kale, Swiss Chard, multiple types of Basil, Bok Choy, Dill and Cilantro. Michael said “Let me make you a salad” and we said “heck yeah!”, he then proceeded in putting together an absolutely beautiful array of greens AND flowers to top it off. I’ve never been much for eating flowers, but he gave me a taste of a light purple flower called a borage. It had the most wonderfully light, cucumber-y flavor. I was instantly a fan. Michael said he is working on a new section of a variety of edible flowers. I’m intrigued and am excited to try new (to me) tastes. In addition to leafy greens, Cotton Street Farm has jalapeño peppers, fruits and berries on the way. I encourage you to stop by and pick up your own super salad with no cides.

Cotton Street Farms is located at 406 Cotton Street, in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. Follow Cotton Street Farms on all their channels:

Website
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Robin Williams

Louisiana State Park Road Trip Planning

Louisiana State Parks: 21 reasons to love the Bayou State

Louisiana State Park RoadtripI was scrolling through emails one hot and steamy June 2018 afternoon. You know how it is, thumbing through endless email subject lines that you have no idea came to be in your inbox. (Side note: When did I sign up for so many food and animal rescue email subscriptions?) I landed on an email that I actually open and enjoy each time that I receive it. The LouisianaTravel.com Ambassadors: Bayou Krewe Newsletter is fun to read about what’s going on in Louisiana from other people who love the state as much as I do. In this particular email, there was a “June Challenge” which suggested making a quick road trip or an entire weekend camping with friends at any one of the 21 State Parks. “21 State Parks? Hmmm . . . I want to see them all!” was the thought that went through my head that Friday evening. Louisiana State Park Road Trip PlanningSo, I went to my desk and started plotting out my “21 State Park, One-weekend Road-trip” that I thought I was planning to take in a few weeks. 29 hours and 32 minutes were all I needed to cover the 1456 miles. I went to bed thinking that I may wake up in the morning to start my adventure. That’s exactly what I did.

Starting out Saturday morning, my plan was to hit every State Park in Louisiana by Sunday evening. It was mid-afternoon on Saturday when I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Oh well, I decided to see what I could and start again the next weekend. Here  are the 21 reasons to love the Bayou State of Louisiana, in the order for which I visited:

Reason #1: North Toledo Bend State Park

Reason #2: South Toledo Bend State Park

Reason #3: Sam Houston Jones State Park

Reason #4: Palmetto Island State Park

Reason #5: Cypermore Point State Park

Reason #6: Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

Reason #7: Grand Isle State Park

Reason #8: Bayou Segnette State Park

Reason #9: St. Bernard State Park

Reason #10: Fountainebleau State Park

Reason #11: Fairview-Riverside State Park

Reason #12: Bogue Chitto State Park

Reason #13: Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw State Park

Reason #14: Chicot State Park

Reason #15: Lake Bistineau State Park

Reason #16: Jimmie Davis State Park

Reason #17: Lake Bruin State Park

Reason #18: Poverty Point Reservoir State Park

Reason #19: Chemin-A-Haut State Park

Reason #20: Lake D’arbonne State Park

Reason #21: Lake Claiborne State Park

I’ve had many people ask me which was my favorite, and honestly, I can not pick a favorite. I was so stunned by the beauty of each and every park. The care that has been taken to keep our State Parks in good shape was surprising to me. The other reason that I can’t pick a favorite is that two-weekend road trips are not near enough time to find the real gems in the pack. I’m making it a priority to go back and spend more time at each park.

Robin Williams - member of the Bayou KreweIf you are looking for a quick road trip, visiting a Louisiana State Park is an inexpensive way to go. Entry fee is only $3 per person. Camping fees vary in ranges, so make sure you check out the website for each park. When you go, here’s what to remember:

  • Bring fishing gear
  • Pack a Lunch
  • Wear appropriate shoes
  • Sunblock!
  • Create a travel journal to make notes & add photos (paper or electronic)
  • Tag your visits on social media using #OnlyLouisiana and #BayouKrewe (sign up to be a Bayou Krewe Ambassador)

Thank you for visiting Louisiana State Parks

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Robin Williams

#Eat318 – 318 Restaurant Week Begins Tuesday, March 13 in Shreveport-Bossier

318 Restaurant Week318 Restaurant Week is upon us and I can’t wait to see my social media feeds fill up with delicious foodstuff. Tejas Kitchen Bar Patio in Shreveport helped kick off the week long event with a media preview. I was lucky enough to attend.

If you’re like me, I love to try new restaurants and find out which are sourcing food from local farms. This week gives a chance to try something new with affordable specials that make it a bit easier on the pocketbook.

Menu listings More than 35 local restaurants have cooked up lunch and dinner specials for 318 Restaurant Week. My advice is to preview the list and make a game plan of your “must do” events. Many evening dinner specials are almost sold-out, so if you want to attend, stop reading this and go make your reservation.

Thanks so much to the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and all of the spectacular sponsors who made this week possible. I don’t want to hear anyone say there’s nothing to do in SB!

Chris Jay

Let me know what you intend to try and tell me how it turns out for ya! Oh, hey, don’t forget to follow the 318 Restaurant Week Facebook Page.

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Robin Williams

Get Fresh!!

Benton residents, Greg and Jessica Bennett, are getting fresh! Their new restaurant, Get Fresh Deli & Frozen Yogurt, had a Bossier Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting to celebrate their grand opening today, July 7, 2017. Get Fresh is a locally family owned deli, with an awesome menu. Greg says the Turkey, Avocado BLT is a favorite. Twelve flavors of frozen yogurt, sandwiches, wraps, salads and pizza round out the deliciousness. Catering is available and Greg is looking forward to connecting with the community.

Get Fresh Deli & Frozen Yogurt is located in the Bella Terra shopping center at 187 Burt Blvd in Benton, LA. Stop by soon and let them know I sent ya.

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Robin Williams

Art In Perspective: Fragelina at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery

I was super honored to be asked to give my perspective on Attilio Piccirilli’s Fragelina at the RW Norton Art Gallery. Take a listen:

If you live in or near Shreveport, Louisiana, let me strongly encourage you to visit the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. You will be blown away by the collections held in this exceptional museum.

Follow R.W. Norton:

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Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

Sometimes a Tesla just happens

Recently I was attending a bowling conference in Charleston, SC. While I was scanning the big conference schedule sign to find which ballroom to go to, I noticed a smaller sign with an arrow in the opposite direction that said “Tesla Test Drives”. I pointed the sign out to my friend and our curiosity was sparked. We headed down the hallway and found that the sign was meant for anyone interested in a test drive. My friend was interested and so we scheduled an appointment to drive that baby. When I was asked if I wanted a drive, I said “no, I’m fine”. I almost missed my shot at driving a Tesla – one of the most awesomely fast cars ever made, all because I didn’t think I should take advantage of an opportunity when I had no intentions of buying a car. (Working on eliminating the feelings of unworthiness but that’s another story) So I just rode in the backseat. It was super cool, but I began to regret my decision. The next morning I went back to get my test drive. There was really no point to this video, but I wanted to share the experience with you anyway.

Just some info about Tesla:

Tesla is a company that makes zero emissions electric cars, energy storage and solar roofs. While a Tesla is definitely in the category of high-end, luxury, expensive cars, there are currently Federal Tax Credits available in the amount of $7500 and Louisiana credits between $8000-$9000 depending on the battery size of the model that you purchase.

According to their website, a Tesla can be charged anywhere. The most common way to charge is at home. Plug in when you arrive and your Tesla will be charged by morning. If you take a trip, Superchargers are conveniently located along well-traveled routes. (I noticed Supercharges at Mall St. Vincent in Shreveport.) Tesla charging stations can be found at hotels and restaurants nationwide as part of their expanding Destination Charging program. Check out their website for a really cool charging estimator for range and comparison of price per mile.

Follow Tesla:

After test driving the Tesla, I realized that perhaps I CAN have a Tesla. I have a habit of thinking that I am unable to get things that are out of my current financial range, or that I don’t deserve it. It will take some responsible planning, but I think setting a goal of purchasing a Tesla (or another luxury car) is reachable in 10 years.

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Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

Christina is full STEAM ahead

Christina WashingtonRecently I became a STEP FORWARD literacy volunteer which has given me the opportunity to read to third graders each week. Reading to children has been something that I have found to be surprisingly rewarding. Today, I had the pleasure of being on the opposite side of the table and was read to by my new friend, Christina Washington. Christina has published a new children’s book,  “Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery”, designed to encourage curiosity and get children excited about learning STEAM or science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

“Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery” has such a creative way of engaging children to explore science. Children are encouraged to see the fun in science by following the example of the exciting characters that reinforce STEAM learning.  14691045_1205398436187409_9182381999145870097_nThe story takes place at a nature park, where a female scientist named Ms. Pearl performs a variety of experiments in her laboratory with help from her animal friends. Each character in the book is representative of each STEAM section.  Sean the Squirrel, Teddy the Turtle, Elle the Elephant, Alex the Alligator, and Max the Monkey. Each character has a special talent while together exploring the fascinating world of STEAM. Readers will witness the shenanigans of Ms. Pearl and her animal friends, and be inspired to reproduce the kid-friendly experiments presented in the book. Ms. Pearl’s character is loosely based on Christina, who also happens to be a Scientist. Mrs. Washington created Ms. Pearl and the STEAM characters to reflect her love for STEAM.

I originally met Christina at the Bossier Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting of her business, Young Scholars, a premier provider of STEM educational programs and services including enrichment programs, custom learning solutions, educational workshops, test prep, and tutoring. Christina WashingtonChristina Washington is such a motivating woman, first and foremost, because she is a scientist (a physicist to be exact). She is an author, educator, Founder of Innovative Learning Solutions, and Founder and Executive Director of Young Scholars, the youth academic division of ILS. She is also a contributing author of two engineering lab manuals and now author of her new children’s book. Christina has received numerous awards for her efforts and continues to be a trailblazer in her industry. Christina is very humble and probably won’t tell you right off that she has participated in research projects at NASA and USDA, so I will tell you for her. WOW – What a woman!

Christina’s self-published book “Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery” is currently being printed as I write and is available for pre-sale on Amazon, with an approximate ship date of November 19, 2016. All pre-sale orders will be autographed and personalized. Christina Washington is an inspiring woman who is making a great impact in the lives of young people. I encourage you to not only purchase one copy of this book, but purchase many copies to share with school children in your area.

13138993_1078445302216057_9137830259205827830_nRead more about Christina:

I’m excited to see Christina moving full STEAM ahead!

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Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes