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T Minus 14 Hours and Counting-

Too busy to think about what’s for dinner? Here’s seven great recipes for fresh green beans. Coincidentally, Rattle’s Garden just listed Certified Organic green beans. Check them out!

Speaking of Organic, guess who got their official certification? Little Rock Urban Farm, that’s who! Support responsible, sustainable farming practices by chowing down on LRUF’s carrots, beets and Swiss chard.

Did you notice The Market’s new look? As a direct result of your enthusiastic support at our New Digs Bake Sale and the excellent taste of those of you who voted, we have a classy new style. Thanks y’all!

~Rebecca Wild

The Market Loves You

Good Morning,
The Market loves you! Well, technically, the Market doesn’t have any feelings. Technology hasn’t come that far… Yet. But your farmers are fully developed sentient beings, and they do love you! You, who make their way of life possible. They love you, and they hate squash bugs.
Oh, and have you filled out Natural Awakening’s Natural Choice Awards 2013 Ballot? Vote for your favorites!

ALFN: Goings-on Updates…

Every time a big, exciting project like our recent fundraiser (did you attend? Tell us what you thought with this survey. Sure, it will steal precious minutes from your day, but we’ll respond by putting on an even better event!) ends, there’s a kind of downer lull, in which the more trivial stuff takes over, and I sort of miss having the big project. It can’t all be fun. But I’m excited to begin working on our FRESH Directory ’13 edition, which, like any good movie sequel, will feature more, more, more. In this case, that more relates to community gardens, local farms, non-profits, farmers’ markets, and restaurants. We are, sad to say, still lacking in explosions and cameos.

Hey, That Looks Tasty…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Food Club is rocking. We’re getting so many orders that we need new equipment to hold it all. Rebecca, our Food Club coordinator, is pulling her hair out, which is… a good problem to have? Not sure, but we love the orders! Check these tasty items out…

Beef Brisket. Brisket sounds really good to me right now. With fresh-drug potatoes? Yes. Ratchford has beef and buffalo (there’s a special on buffalo), Bluebird has it trimmed and 3-week dry aged, & MeatWorks has brisket from their own butchery.

Felder Farm’s Candy Onions: a polished onion sheen, thousands of years of onion refinement, generation to generation, to produce these master tubers. Or is it a root? Someone explain the difference!

Bussey-Scott California White Garlic: I opened my bag of this yesterday, and a pungent garlic smell met my nose. What should I do? Eat it raw? Roast it? What method would epitomize this garlic goodness?

Taters! Lots of varieties, from Kellogg Valley, Armstead Mountain Farm, Barnhill, and Kornegay Berry Farm. I know this is a silly thing to do, but someone should order each variety, do a boiling or roasting, and conduct a little taste test. See is there are differences. It’d be FUN!

Zephyr, Summer, and Patty Pan Squash from Rattle’s Garden, Kellogg Valley, & Barnhill. A squash recipe I tried and liked: sauté sweet onion (from Felder Farm!) with squash (little cubes) in olive oil. Get it nice and tender. Then, toss with basil and feta.

Herbs for your consideration: Bronze Fennel, Chocolate Mint, Dill (for the potato salad you should be making), Garlic Scapes (for the mashed potatoes you should be making), Summer Savory, Berrgarten Sage, Spearmint, Peppermint (for sun tea). Lots to try. Thanks to Bussey-Scott, Willow Springs, and Armstead.

Flower Bouquets from Crimmins’ Family Farm. These bouquets are a family product: Chuck’s daughter grows and cuts these flowers, which include stattice, snapdragons, larkspur, & queen anne’s lace.

What our Farmers are saying…

From Drewry Farm & Orchards :
“Sold 40lbs of cucumbers , 95lb of squash, 50 lbs of ripe tomatoes, lots of swiss chard and honey and salsa, this morning, AND we are just getting started!!! peaches will be ready soon!”

Tara Stainton of Rattle’s Garden lost her first sungold tomato to " a grubby little hand." Hint: it was her little boy.

Falling Sky Farm’s take on their cows grazing on the hillside: “The good type of mountain top removal.” Yes indeed. Don’t forget: cows add a little something in return. From the other end. If you get my meaning.

From Kellogg Valley Farms :
“Garlic is looking good!” Can’t wait to eat it.

OK, I just have to direct you to this picture of Falling Sky Farm’s little Cabbage Head Eliza and North Pulaski’s Kelly Carney! It is really cute.

Sam Hedges

Get Ready!

It’s gearing up to be another steamy summer. Better field test your hot weather recipes now to avoid mixing disappointment with that oppressive Arkansas heat. If you’re looking to add to your recipe repertoire, try this simple Turkish salad. Pinch some Arkansas Natural Produce purslane into bite-size bits. Mince a few cloves of Bussey-Scott Urban Garden’s garlic. Stir together with a generous amount of plain yogurt. Drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and enjoy! Top with fresh diced cucumber and/or cherry tomatoes for a not-so-authentic but thoroughly delicious variation. As an added bonus, purslane is packed with omega-3s.

If you neglected to order purslane and garlic, don’t panic! The Market is still open.

~Rebecca Wild

The Market is Open!

Good Morning my State Kin,

On my way to Food Club yesterday, I stopped by the Hillcrest Farmers’ Market (No, that’s not disloyal, especially when you need a cup of Mylo’s coffee). I wanted to say Thanks to a few farmers who had attended the fundraiser the night before. Took shelter under Kellogg Valley Farm’s tent, talking casually with Eddie Stuckey and Tara Stainton of Rattle’s Garden, watching dedicated people brave the wind and rain for a little produce. Between that and the turnout at the fundraiser Friday night, it’s hard to ignore just how much momentum the local food movement is picking up. From Eddie, I learned that you might be able to fight potato bugs by feeding them self-rising flour. Hint: it’s the same effect as feeding pigeons rice, except less cruel because they’re potato bugs. Even in the worst weather, it’s fun to talk to our local farmers.

The Southern Roots fundraiser was a tremendous success on all fronts. We raised more money than we possibly ever have in a fundraiser. More importantly, people enjoyed themselves, and it ended up being a special evening for local farmers. Katie Short, Eddie Stuckey, Josh Hardin, Sue & Rusty Nuffer, Kelley Carney, Tara Stainton, Kent Walker, Mike McSwain, Robert Lashley, & LC Ratchford were all in attendance and got the chance to promote their farms to new people and have a little fun! I was very happy to see them there and and deeply grateful for all the food they donated to make the night happen as well as the fantastic job they did in sharing their stories.

Speaking of food, Chef Matt Bell is a master at taking local fare and turning it into flavor explosion. The food was inventive and delicious. My favorite moment was this: Mike McSwain of McSwain Ranch sampled some of his own lamb and couldn’t believe that it was his lamb. “I’ve never tasted it that mild! It is so good!” he said. Now that’s full circle. Way to go Matt Bell. I don’t think a single person left unsatisfied. That might also have had something to do with Loblolly’s strawberry ice cream or the Rocktown cocktails or Stone’s Throw and Flyway Breweries’ beer, which got tapped out in about an hour.

Right up to the start of the event, people were still trying to buy tickets. I had to turn down my own grandparents (Sorry Nana and Harry). To see such interest and enthusiasm was… just great. Really great. A BIG THANKS to the Oxford American, the ALFN Board, all the people who donated for the silent auction, Stone’s Throw and Flyway Brewery, Rocktown Distillery, and on and on. The OA’s new restaurant should be open by the end of the month, and I will definitely be eating there.

I can’t wait for our Fall fundraiser, and if you didn’t make it to this one, keep the Fall on your radar! Whatever we plan just may be life changing.

A Trip down the Local Aisles…

The Market is open!

Little Rock Urban Farming is here! They’ve got organic beets, carrots, radishes, and swiss chard. All grown in Little Rock!

Felder Farm & Nathanael Wills have sweet candy onions! There’s nothing like fresh onions.

Potatoes & potautoes. Lots of freshly dug potatoes, from Barnhill, Kornegay, and Kellogg (certified naturally grown). And let’s face it: potatoes are delicious. OK? They just are. Who cares if they’re too starchy?

Sqaush three ways: Barnhill, Kellogg (certified naturally grown) and Rattle’s Garden (certified organic). Pick of the crop folks. If you haven’t ever tried pickled Zephyr squash, it’s really good. Cut into pickle spears, add near-boiling apple cider vinegar, dill, garlic, a little hot pepper. Delicious.

Blueberries! It finally happened. Armstead, Willow Springs, and Bluebird have their blueberries ready, and I WANT TO EAT ALL OF THEM! Man I love blueberry season. Somebody please freeze time right now.

Chicken. Meatworks has whole broiler chickens, and at the fundraiser, I sampled Chef Matt Bell’s liver pate with strawberries, made from Falling Sky’s chicken livers, and it was delicious. And I don’t usually like pate.

So much good stuff on the market! Once tomatoes, peppers, and okra show up, I just might be a complete man!

Farmers are friends too…

From North Pulaski Farms :
“Would love for you to share our page with your friends & family! So if you know folks that like local & organic & they live in Central Arkansas let them know about us!” Thought we’d help him out.

From Willow Springs Market Garden :

“It is 6 o’clock. We are out picking vegetables for today’s Farmers Market at Bernice Garden. Opens at 10!” Got to appreciate the dedication. Also, check out the picture of his Chinese Five Color Peppers.

AND a little sad news to report on a beautiful day. From Dunbar Community Garden :
“We’ve got sad news to report. Our baby turkeys did not survive the terrible storms and flash flooding last night. Nature threw us a curve ball and we must deal with it the best we can. We were so excited for our new arrivals and we are sad but hopefully mama and papa turkey will give it another shot. All of our other animal friends at the garden are doing fine this morning. We hope all of you stayed safe and sound last night. "

Sam Hedges

Procrastinators Unite!

I hear it’s the early bird that gets the worm and it seems y’all have heard that, too. Every Sunday just as The Market opens there’s a rush of excited ordering frenzy. I won’t lie; I’ve also fallen prey to the notion that the best selection is to be had right at the opening bell. Yet this week there are some compelling reasons to be late to this party. Post-opening additions include: candy onions from Felder Farm, Certified Organic sugar snap peas and zephyr squash from Rattle’s Garden, and piles of freshly unearthed new and fingerling potatoes from Kellogg Valley Farm, Barnhill Orchard and Kornegay Berry Farm. So if you’ve waited this long to get your order in, lucky you! And if you already placed an order this week, just place another one. That’s what I do.

In other news, we’re going old school! Due to consistent complications with the online volunteer sign up, we’re officially reverting to good ol’ reliable hard-copy. Look for the paper sign up sheet this (and every) Saturday at pick up. Additionally, you can always send us an email if you find yourself next to your calendar and longing to help out.

~Rebecca Wild

Open: The Market Is?

Good Saturday to you, fellow Weekenders,
How nice, to have two Saturdays in one weekend. Two Saturdays = Something Awesome, like parsnips or blueberries. We hope you are having a solid Memorial Weekend at (A) the Lake, (B) Riverfest, or © Your Front Porch, Doing Nothing ( my choice! ). The Market is open, reminding you that, once the vacation day is over, you’ll still need groceries. Sure, Kroger has corn and watermelons, but they grew them on Mars.

Oh, one last thing. We done told all our tickets to our Southern Roots fundraiser, which has delighted and amazed us. The fundraiser is shaping up excellently. The food is going to be great, the beverages delicious (and effective), and we’ll be hearing from some of our beloved farmers, such as Kelly Carney of North Pulaski Farm, Tara Stainton of Rattle’s Garden, Sue and Rusty Nuffer of Armstead Mountain Farm, and Josh Hardin of Laughing Stock Farm. Each of them will be sharing their best stand-up comedy acts, NO, just kidding, don’t hold me to that.

Down our tasty, tasty aisles…

  • In our Meat section, you’ll find Meatworks Butchery & Market: who are they? Actually, they’re our old friends Youngblood Grassfed Farm, but they’ve taken on a new name along with a new butchery and market out in Mena. With their newly opened market comes some delicious products, including sausages, cuts of beef, a few plate teasers, broiler chickens, and eggs. Keep an eye on these guys; my foodie senses tell me that more is yet to come.
  • We’re still well stocked with strawberries. Despite the weird season, we’re turning out to have one of our best strawberry crops; they’re becoming increasingly delicious, and the season is good and long. I also spy organic blueberries from Armstead Farm, frozen and vacuum sealed, though the availability is set at 0. Maybe that will change?
  • Some early cucumbers from Arkansas Natural Produce. Time for Cucumber Salad. How to you make your’s? I prefer apple cider vinegar, dill (find it under Herbs), red onion, and a pinch of sugar. It’s all about slicing the cuc’s impossibly thin, sprinkling them with salt, and letting the water leach out a little.
  • OK, I’m just going to say all this in one breath, because there are a lot of vegetables: KALE KALE KALE – Fava Beans – Salad Mixes n’ Lettuces galore – fresh dug Potatoes – Summer Squash and Zucchini, chemical free whoopee! – Turnips, yes, pickle them! – Cabbage – Broccoli glory aannnddd Sugar Snaps. Whew, that was a lot. There’s probably even more by the time you read this. Just eat your vegetables, OK kids?
  • I checked out some of New South Nursery’s plants yesterday at Food Club. Beautiful, healthy native plants. Tom’s coneflowers in particular looked great. I recommend ordering some. He also has plenty of fig trees!
  • We’re taking orders for ALFN t-shirts. They’re organic and quite fetching. Not to be too self-promotional. Gosh, I’m so embarrassed.

Some foodie findings…

I obsess over food and don’t take eating at restaurants lightly, especially since I have to budget for them. I recently sampled the Root Cafe’s grits for Sunday brunch. It looks like they cook and then deep fry them. One bite crunched through the crispy exterior into a warm, buttery interior. It was delicious. I also recently visited Natchez Restaurant and was delighted by the food. The menu is pretty creative and bears the signs of being locally sourced. Highlights included a Moroccan Carrot Soup, a salad adorned with granola and pickled blueberries (it really worked), and the most delicious slow braised short ribs I’ve ever had. They’re worth a look.

Our farmers’ social side…

From Meatworks Butchery & Market :
“First EPIC week behind us! Thank you to so many true blue friends, family and customers for carrying us through!! Blessings for a great Memorial Weekend!”

From Barnhill Ochards :
A little musing on… “Grubbin’ for Taters the old-fashioned way…a shovel, a five gallon bucket…and your momma helping!! We are digging daily for Red Pontiac new potatoes. We will begin harvesting our fingerling potatoes within a week to 10 days.”

Pictures that are awesome (if you can’t see them, check them out on the Weblog page

Last Call!

Memorial Day is just around the corner and we all know what that means – three day weekend! Anyone for barbecue? Our farmers’ freezers are chock full of pastured pork and grass-fed beef that will take your secret recipe to a whole new level. The Market closes tomorrow morning, so get your order in while you can.

If you’re checking out the meat section, perhaps you’re already in on the great news; Youngblood Grassfed Farm is back! If you missed the wildly successful soft opening of MeatWorks Buchery and Market, be sure to check out the official grand opening this Thursday and show your support for this great farm by serving up some Youngblood steak and bratwurst this weekend!

And don’t forget dessert! LePops will be at Food Club this Saturday with a delightful assortment of pops for sale. So get here early and stock up because they’re sure to go fast!

~Rebecca Wild

The Market is Open!

Good Gracious Friends,
Do you feel the edge we’re leaning over? Any day now, I just know it. Summer vegetables. Tantalizingly green tomatoes and tiny zephyr squash popping out of their blossoms. Blueberries, oh my, I know they are so close. I fear the worst: that we were about to witness a produce explosion. As the billboards say, are you prepared? ________________________________________

In the Digital Aisles of Local Splendor…

  • A big HELLO to Armstead Mountain Farm, our organic friends from up North! We’ve missed their beautiful organic produce and are happy to see them back!
  • Flank Steak from Ratchford Farms
  • Baby Back Bibs from Farm Girl Natural Foods
  • Broccoli Greens from Kellogg Valley Farm. Two suggestions: (1) use them in a quiche or (2) steam them and toss with garlic powder and olive oil.
  • Nasturtium Edible Blossoms from Crimmins’ Family Farm. Delicious flowers, good for a varied diet. Check out these recipes. Also, Nasturtium Pepper Vinegar and Nasturtium Butter caught my fancy.
  • Early summer squash and zucchini from Barnhill Orchards. Great for grilling!

Lacto-fermentation WHAT?

Have you heard about lacto-fermentation? Better question: have you heard of sauerkraut? If you have, than guess what?
Lacto-fermentation is definitely a process to consider for your kitchen, especially as we see these late Spring root veggies and cabbages on the market. There are a number of bacterial benefits, which you can read about at Real Food in Little Rock, for your health that can come from lacto-fermentation. Plus, for the curious, these pickled vegetables open a new world of culinary possibility. Try lacto-fermented radishes or carrots in your stir-fry or rice paper wraps. It’s a simple and engaging way to eat old things in a new way!

Farmers Like Facebook Too…

From Willow Springs Market Garden :
“We have seen the first ripe blueberries in our patch. Mysteriously, we have no evidence to show, as they seem to have “disappeared”."

Drewry Farm & Orchards thinks they will have, “a great peach crop by the way things look right now.” Whew.

Laughing Stock Farm just uploaded some beautiful pictures of their heirloom tomatoes coming on!

And Kelly of North Pulaski Farms is excited to have found his favorite brand of kelp meal at Cabot Farmers Association.

Keep it local, ya’ll!

Sam Hedges

Bring on the Fire

Grilling weather is finally here to stay. Time to celebrate… with steak! We have prime cuts for every connoisseur. Throw some broccoli and bok choy next to that beef to create a satisfying meal without ever heating up the kitchen. Sound appealing? Give in to the temptation at the Market, but hurry. Only 16.5 hours left!

~Rebecca Wild

The Market Giveth...

And the Market giveth more! No it doesn’t taketh awayeth. Nothing but bounty here my friends.

Fun in the market aisles….

I know it’s Mother’s Day today, but if you need to spread your mother appreciation out over a week, Willow Springs has fresh cut posies in our plants section.

Ratchford has their delicious Elk and Buffalo Summer Sausage back. Lean and mean. Plus, it actually feels like Summer now.

Falling Sky just uploaded some hot sausage links from their woodland raised pigs. And Bluebird has ready made, smoked & chopped BBQ Pork. Vacuum sealed and ready for immediate enjoyment!

Fava Beans from Kellogg. A deeply flavorful bean. The window for this crop is short; this may well be the last week, so order up and give these bad boys a shot! Check out these recipes.

Crimmins’ Family Farm has fresh Nasturtium Blossoms. A spicy edible flower great for any salad.

Delicious, sweet sugar snap peas from Arkansas Natural Produce! And I heard some great things about North Pulaski Farm’s organic Fordhook Giant swiss chard yesterday.

FUN-raiser gossip…
Our Southern Roots fundraiser is fast approaching. A big THANKS to Little Rock Urban Farming for donating their organic strawberries for a tasty Spring libation. Another big THANKS to McSwain Ranch for contributing cuts of their delicious, pasture-raised lamb.
Get ready for some great silent auction items, including some cool offerings from Kent Walker’s Artisan Cheese and The Root Cafe.
Tickets available HERE, at the Green Cornerstore and Local Food Club!

Some Social Sharing from our Farmers….

Tammy Sue’s Critters :
“Life is good, my son got me a timer for light in chicken house. What an awesome Mother’s Day Gift!” If only all mothers got chicken house timers!

Falling Sky Farm :
A fantastic video of their pigs roaming in the woods.

Willow Springs Market Garden :
A winning picture of some early Summer root vegetables.

And it might be too late to tell you this, but North Pulaski Farms has some beautiful organic strawberries at the Bernice Farmers’ Market, right now. Run, friends! Run and forage!

With authenticity and genuine feeling allover,
Sam Hedges