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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.
“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. "
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.
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…
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!
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!
- Plenty of radishes on the market. Try some lacto-fermented radish or a Radish Remoulade.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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,
The Countdown Has Begun-
Only 17 hours left until the market closes for the week. Luckily that’s plenty of time to pick out replacements for the plants lost in the late cold snap. While you’re at it, take a look in the Bakery Goods & Candy section because LePops are back! With flavors like “blackberry lavender” and “pure sunshine” there’s no better way to enjoy the season. But don’t stop there! If you don’t get in on the magnificent mounds of Certified Naturally Grown produce available from Kellogg Valley Farm this week you’ll be doomed to spend your Saturday suffering from broccoli envy. It’s a serious condition but don’t worry, there’s plenty to go around. So have an old friend for dinner. If they eschew the broccoli they’re sure to enjoy the fava beans, maybe with a nice Chianti.
The Market Swears It's May
Good morning fellow Northerners,
Oh wait, No. We’re Southerners. Where we live, the weather is warm in May. And pleasant. Is there a weather god around still? If so, harass it.
You can’t miss the bemused looks on our farmers’ faces right now. I called Jerry of Bluebird Hill earlier this week to see if he come sell eggs at our Eggshells’ event, and his response was, “Well, since the ground is so wet, I might as well be there.” Touché, Jerry, touché.
In the market….
The Market is open, and it continues to be the early Spring crops’ hay day. Tons of greens, root vegetables, cabbages, kales. Best stock up, because, chances are, it will be 100 degrees in a month.
I visited Farm Girl Natural Foods with Angela Gardner this week. It was a fantastic visit, and Katie Short was very generous with her time. We learned a lot, and I felt reenergized about what this market provides. Farm Girl is farming with animal welfare as the highest priority, and it shows. The work is hard, but Katie’s passion for farming is by far greater. I got to see her pigs at work in the scrubby woodlands around her homestead; they were like different animals, living to their natural potential. Those industrious guys. And her sows (mama pigs): HUGE. I mean, Wow. Like monster pigs. So may I recommend some of Farm Girl’s pork products, including the mini pork share?
Still plenty of live plants available, and this Spring has been gracious enough to give you the longest window for planting them ever.
Maison Terre has a sale on all candles, under Specials. Scented with Springtime fragrance!
Check out our ALFN T-Shirts. Colorful, with organic cotton. A fashion statement of food values.
Oh yeah. And strawberries. OK? I get it. You’re excited about the strawberries. I think you should buy 1 quart from each farm and do a taste test.
Southern Roots Fundraiser….
Our excellent fundraiser with the Oxford American is coming up. With a ticket you can enjoy the following: live music by Amy Garland, a sneak peak into the South on Main’s new space, a special sampling of resident chef Matt Bell’s delicious wares, Little Rock microbrew, speciality cocktails with Rocktown Distillery, and a chance to meet and rub shoulders with our very own growers. Oh yes, this event shall be the talk of the town! And farm!
Did anyone attend the Heritage Hog Roast at Argenta yesterday? You know, those were all Falling Sky Farm’s hogs. I enjoyed this little tidbit on the Eat Arkansas blog about the roasting early morning.
From Rattle’s Garden :
“Could use a few warm thoughts right now…”
From Drewry Farm & Orchards :
“It’s sleeting, I’m going back to bed, wake me when it’s over.” Also, check their page out for a supremely cute picture of a baby goat coat.
A much needed update from Felder Farm :
“January 29th, we broke ground at the new Felder spot, 6th and Jones. We met kind, seed-sharing neighbors, and we checked out the soil, which happens to have more than a few rocks, as our dear city’s name might have predicted.” Check out the page for awesome pictures.
And a helpful hint from Debe Hudson of ABC Greenhouse :
“If you want scrumptious blueberries this year, think about going to Berry Hill Farms and picking some fresh when they are available. They are located in Jessieville, AR and you pick 2 gallons, you keep one and turn one into them?” So, she’s pretty sure that’s right.
Here’s to warmer weather!
Looking outside right now, would you believe we’re in for some unseasonably cold weather by the end of the week? Instead of railing against the delay in peaches and watermelon, why not take this opportunity to enjoy one last batch of steamy vegetable stew? Instead of turning back on the heat, try warming up in the kitchen with a delicious, slowly braised roast! We have everything you need to take advantage of this last hint of winter on the market right now, but get it before tomorrow morning or you’ll have to suffer the cold… and the regret.