Farmers Rice Milling Co.


3211 Highway 397 South
Lake Charles, LA 70615
(337) 433-5205

Johnny Hensgens knows from rice. He grew up on his family’s rice farm, eating duck and goose gumbos made from birds hunted in the rice fields. He operated his own rice farm as a young adult. And since 1995, he has been Director of Farming Operations at a large, self-sustaining rice farm just outside of Lake Charles, the town of his birth. With a title like Director of Farming Operations, and considering the massive outfit that is The Powell Group (the parent company that owns Farmers Rice Milling), you might expect Mr. Hensgens to be pushing papers, or maybe delivering instructions to his minions, on a random Tuesday morning. Yet, he calmly fielded several cell phone calls during our Tuesday morning interview, each time telling the caller that he would “be there soon”; it turned out that “there” was in the rice fields, perched behind the steering apparatus of a combine, harvesting a late-season crop as stormy skies encroached from all sides. He looked, and felt, perfectly at home.

Date of interview:

September 11, 2007

Interviewer:

Sara Roahen

Photographer:

Sara Roahen

Farmers Milling Rice Co. - John Hensgens - Gumbo Trail
We always had okra in the gardens and [my mother] would fry the okra down, dry it and put it in the gumbo, the seafood gumbo. But that was, again, something that’s in the later years. Earlier it was mainly just chicken or duck.

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