St. Bernard Parish residents identify Italian vegetable farming as an important part of their history. They take pride in the quality of their homegrown produce. Since 1953, the John Raymond Gallo Family Farms have operated this produce stand. Three brightly-painted, wooden tables and prominent signage catch the eye of passers-by on St. Bernard Highway. Produce is set out in clean cardboard containers. In May, the Creole tomatoes are on display in well-labeled boxes.
With 4,000 citrus trees plus rows of vegetables plants, Mr. Gallo is the largest produce grower in the parish today -- and one of the only working farmers raised in the Italian farm heritage. His pride and joy is the Creole tomato, which won fame in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. It's superior taste is attributable to the dark, rich soil of the deep delta.
In 1885 the Gallo family emigrated here from Italy and helped establish the Italian agricultural trade in south Louisiana. In the early days, farmers transported vegetables and fruits from St. Bernard to the New Orleans French Market by mule cart -- day and night. Crops included tomato, corn, cabbage, green onion, parsley, cilantro, anise, eggplant and bell pepper. Italians also operated the strawberry planting enterprise north of Lake Pontchartrain.