The Weblog

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I. Love. Summer.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate; I’m no fan of the heat. What I love is summer food. If you do as well, I have great news: The Market is chock full of fantastic summer foods and there’s still time to place an order (or another order) before it closes tomorrow morning. However, I must advise that you proceed with caution. The breathtaking bounty of the market in July can be too much for some. To spare you getting lost amongst listing after listing of just awesome and missing out on something truly special, here’s a few in-season stars worth digging out of the abundance:

Certified Organic Blueberries from Armstead Mt Farm. Only a few left; better get ‘em all. A mere pint of these pebbles of ambrosia won’t even last the ride home. Trust me. I know.

Fresh Cantaloupe from Hardin Farm. Summer isn’t really here until you take a bite of ripe, local melon. Sprinkle with a touch of cracked black pepper and dig in.

Sweet Banana Peppers from Kellogg Valley Farm. These pale green gems are Certified Naturally Grown and just begging to be lacto-fermented.

Non-GMO Corn from Hardin Farm. A sweet, bicolor variety of Providence and a rare find. Non-GMO corn isn’t getting any easier to come by. These ears may not be picture perfect, but they sure are something special. Toss a few, shuck and all, on the grill over low heat until mostly blackened. Peel that husk and enjoy.

Whole Chickens from Farm Girl Natural Foods. I know what you’re thinking. In-season chicken? That’s nonsense! The reality is that chicken is available year-round in grocery stores because those poor, genetically manipulated birds are shipped in, trapped indoors under artificial lights and fed the equivalent of Miracle Grow. Farm Girl chickens are only available once they’ve had enough time to grow up outdoors eating their fill of grass and bugs and soaking up actual sunlight. I could bore you with the health benefits of pastured chicken, but you’ll be far more impressed by the flavor. Throw one on the grill (next to that corn) and find out for yourself.

If that’s not enough to tantalize your taste-buds, take a look at the other 711 products available right now. You’re bound to stumble across something you didn’t know was available, yet suddenly can’t live without. It happens to me all the time.

~Rebecca Wild

The Market Is Open: Folksy Foodies


Why, Hello Digital Community,
I didn’t see you there. Did you hear? The Market is open, and in a wave of grace, we received a cold front that kicked the heat down a few notches. It feels indescribably good outside right now, and ALFN really thinks you ought to take advantage, since we may not see a day like this for another three months. ALFN knows what it’s talking about.

Quick musing: Folksy Foodie. I think this can be the phrase to label the unique Arkansan locavore. See, we have the kind of foodie slant, loving fresh food and gushing over pictures of food on Facebook and eating purple carrots. But we also have a long, rich background of agriculture and gardening that the more progressive havens of foodism lack. You talk to people at pickup on Saturdays, and they can easily remember growing this stuff as kids with their grandparents. It’s a little new age and old age. We are Folksy Foodies. Eh, try it out, see if it sticks.
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Local Food in the House, Ya’ll…

Out of town for the 4th weekend? Don’t forget about our Monday pickup option. Just because you must miss Saturday pickup, doesn’t mean you have to go without your local groceries.

Bulk Cabbage from Armstead Mountain Farm. A saw a few customers take their bulk cabbage home yesterday, with plans for fermentation. Toss in some garlic and other shredded root veggies, and you’ve got a funky mess.

Ghost Peppers from Willow Springs Market Garden. This pepper should come with a skull and crossbones. Infamous for being hot beyond the realm of reason. Brave souls have tried… and died. Well, I don’t know if anyone’s died, but the idea makes the pepper more alluring, doesn’t it?

Moringa Leaves from Willow Springs Market Garden. This could be an interesting horizon-broadener. A super-healthy green, so they say, superior in taste to spinach and collards, etc. Eat raw or sautéed.

OKRA from Kellogg (Certified Naturally Grown), Barnhill, and friends. I love fresh okra so much. Roast or grill it (helps pull out some of the slimy) and it is so divine.

Gray Zucchini from Bluebird. Interesting. A staple, Jerry says, in Latin cuisine, with a gray-green skin. Anyone tried the Zucchini-Pepita salsa at Local Lime? This might be the time to recreate it at home.

Squash, Squash, Squash. Acorn, Butternut, Yellow, Zucchini. So much squash. Perfect for carving figurines and giving them to your children as toys. The bonus is that when your children get tired of your carven toys, you can eat them.

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes from everywhere. Little cherries, heirlooms, hybrids. Order some tomatoes + MeatWorks or Falling Sky smoked bacon + Arkansas Fresh multigrain bread and baby, you got a BLT.

Bulk Basil from Rattle’s Garden. $10 for 1 gallon. Not bad. Time to make pesto. Also, lots of fresh basil from Little Rock Urban Farming, Armstead, etc. plus a multitude of herbs for cooking.

Arkansas Natural Produce and Crimmins’ Family Farm are taking a little vacation. Yes, I miss them too. Until then, try consoling yourself with hot peppers and blueberries. And chicken feet.


Sharing and So-shia-lizin’…

Wanting to visit a U-Pick place for some berries? Loretta Elmore in Hot Springs…
“Yes it is berry picking time, We are starting u pick next week. We will be open for picking starting Tuesday morning, our hours will be 6am to 12pm everyday except Thursdays and Saturdays, We charge $2 a pound which usually averages about $12 a gallon for U-pick. Anyone wanting to pick should give us a call at 501-984-5498.”

A day in the life of Tammy Sue’s Critters
A look at today on the farm. Get up, feed and milk. Spend several hours moving hay and making sure all critters have fresh water. Then make delivery to Little Rock, head to Sherwood Farmer’sMarket, set up in a little bit of heat, work till 8:00. Time to head home and feed and milk again. Then, looks like rain, we have to cover 26 rolls of hay with tarps. Finally at 10:30 shower and have fresh peaches on ice cream! Wow, what a day."

Starting July 7th, Boulevard Bread Co will be open for brunch on Sundays. I love brunch.

And, last but not least, Le Pops was recently featured in the Food Network’s magazine as Arkansas’ best ice cream treat. Some serious recognition there, indeed.

Good week to all, and a happy 4th!

Sincerely,
Sam Hedges

The Market Closes Tomorrow!


Oh Marketeers,
Don’t you know that The Market closes tomorrow morning? Let’s face it: you won’t be getting up at 7AM to order! The future is no place to delay your better days, my friends. Yes, you might as well order now, because the moment is all we have! Carpe Vegum indeed.
On a more serious note, now is the time to show your support for our local growers. Their summer crops are coming in, after months of hard work, and they’re looking at some long, hot days ahead. What warms (or cools) a farmers’ heart in the relentless afternoon? Customer support!

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you ordered anything from Arkansas Natural Produce, they will not be delivering this week. They notified us but neglected to remove their products in time. They sincerely apologize, and we will remove these products from the orders.
Also, Crimmins Family Farm is taking a two-week break and will rejoin us after the 4th.
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You know this stuff is good…

To be quite frank, there is a lot happening in Ye Ole Market today. If you haven’t looked it over, than you’re just crazy.
Heirloom Pinto Beans. What? I’ve never had fresh heirloom pinto beans. Thank you, Hardin Farms, I will try them!

ROASTS and GROUND BEEF and FARM GIRL CHICKENS and PORK CHOPS! It will be the 4th of July next week, and a cooler is best made full by local, pasture-raised meats. Order them today, eat them next week, dream in between.

Carrots from Little Rock Urban Farming. Hah! Are they gone yet? Better jump on it. Armstead’s carrots are currently a whopping -21. We are Vitamin-A Addicts.

Sweet Corn. Come on now, folks. FRESH ARKANSAS SWEET CORN! Particular credit goes to Hardin Farms, for detailing his growing methods and offering a non-modified parent variety of his infamous Peaches & Cream Sweet Corn.

Peppers have re-entered their seasonal orbit and are raining down in sweet variety. Anaheims, Poblanos, Padron, Chinese 5 Color, Bell. It’s always a significant moment, to me, when peppers return. Same as Tomatoes and Fresh Okra. It’s Summer, friends.
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Some Sharing Moments…

Have you checked out our recent post on Farm Girl Natural Foods. It really is worth a read. Farm Girl is the type of farm that takes your understanding of agriculture a few layers deeper. And, courtesy of Angela Gardner, the pictures are amazing!
Last but not least, a little post from Dunbar Community Garden :
“We can’t put into words how happy we are that it’s raining right now. Mother Nature do your thing!” Except you just did… Let’s all hope for rain.

It's Finally Official-


Summer Has Arrived!

The first of many warm weather celebrations, July 4th, is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate our nation’s independence than by indulging in some lovely local fare? Nothing could be more appropriate than steaks and burgers on the grill, or ribs and brisket in the smoker. Although, a generous serving of potato salad and slaw certainly wouldn’t hurt. Don’t overlook the satisfying flavor of a simple sliced tomato on the side, now that they’re finally beginning to trickle in. You could even enjoy a bowl of fresh blueberries and blackberries while watching the fireworks. No whipped cream needed for these ripe, peak-season delights! Everything you need for a phenomenal 4th feast is just waiting for you at The Market.

~Rebecca Wild

Oups!


Oups!

Have you ever been so distracted by all the mouthwatering local food in your kitchen that you forgot to do something really important, like order more for next week? (Or send out the weblog out on time?) Me too! Don’t let tonight’s plate of Falling Sky’s chicken thighs braised with LRUF’s carrots next to Kellogg Valley’s squash sautéed with ANP’s fresh herbs distract you from the fact that there is more delicious food to be had. The Market closes tomorrow morning. Act now and anything listed could be yours.

A word to the wise- The hardworking folks at Arkansas Natural Produce are taking the next two weeks off. Stock up while you still can!

~Rebecca Wild

The Market is Open!


Hello, Hello Marketicians,
The Market is open, and it’s a DOOZIE. I mean, isn’t it a doozie every week? Things are looking good; sales are bursting. A big thanks to Rebecca Wild, Lance Biggers, Joyce Hardy, and myself; we single handedly rocked Food Club yesterday against the odds of being short staffed. What can we say? We’re professional volunteers. But, if you would like to volunteer, we’d very much like to have you. Check out the signup at the checkout table on Saturday and Monday.

Oh, and did you read our third installment of Know Your Farmers? It’s a great read on the future for Kent Walker’s Artisan Cheese. There are some exciting things afoot.
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If I were you, this is what I would eat…

- Kornegay Berry Farm just came on with loads of blueberries and blackberries. A lot of each. Apache and Ouachita blackberries, and five varieties of blueberries, producing at different times over the season.
- Barnhill has Natchez Blackberries, and they are HUGE.
- A quiet moment for strawberries. No more fresh strawberries on the market. The season has passed them by, but you can order Kornegay’s fresh frozen whole strawberries.
- In the Meat Display: Andouille Sausages from Farm Girl, Sliced Deli Ham from Falling Sky Farm, Flat Iron Steaks from Ratchford, Smoked Bacon, Beef Arm Roast, and Whole Broiler Chickens from MeatWorks.
- Garlic Scapes from Willow Springs. If you’ve never had garlic scapes, I highly recommend them. They’re the curling tops of garlic plants and house some delightful garlic flavor. Perfect for garlic mashed potatoes or pesto.
- I saw the Flower Bouquets from Crimmins’ Family Farm yesterday at Food Club. Beautiful flower arrangements!
- Culinary Celery from Crimmins’ Family Farm. Remember this celery from last year? Very popular, better than anything you can find in a grocery store. Plus, it’s organic!
- Cabbage galore, certified naturally grown and USDA organic. I’m thinking about making kimchi. Anyone have a good recipe?
- Green Beans from Rattle’s Garden (USDA organic) and Hardin Farms. Yellow Wax Beans from Kellogg (Certified Naturally Grown). Here’s my recipe: grab a handful and eat them, one by one.
I know what you’re all thinking. Where are the tomatoes? I just don’t know! They are so close! My gut tells me that, before the market closes this week, we will see ripe tomatoes. If I’m wrong, than I shall eat a dozen bitter green tomatoes.
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Sharing and Caring from our Farmers…

- From Farm Girl :
“We had our animal welfare approved audit yesterday, and not to brag or anything, but the word superwoman may have been used multiple times…”

From ABC Nature Greenhouse :
“This year I froze up my blueberries by using a different method. I washed them, laid them on a paper towel, dried them with a paper towel, laid them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet on wax paper. I did this yesterday and just looked at them. They are nice and frozen. Then I packed them up in a vacuum seal bag and they didn’t mush, get juiced or anything, then threw them right back into the freezer. Worked like a charm!”

And, since our thoughts are on Kent these days, here’s an exciting update from Kent Walker’s Artisan Cheese
“We are at full production of 250 LBs of cheese / week and full aging (3 month aged cheese coming out of the cellar every week)
It is one of the peculiarities of the cheesemaking business that you must age your product before it is ready to sell. That makes this a MAJOR milestone for KWAC.” If you’re interested in Kent’s reserve cheese program, contact him at info@kentwalkercheese.com.

Enjoy your shopping my friends!
Sincerely,
Sam Hedges

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!
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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.
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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.
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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.

Sincerely,
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.
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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!
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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. "

Sincerely,
Sam Hedges