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The Market: Certifiably Natural and Organic

Good Morning Community,
I trust everyone is looking out on the same bizarre almost-May morning that I am. I’m sure it’s all you’ve been talking about, but it seems we’re experiencing (1) a depressingly normal Spring (as opposed to our previous few) or (2) a straight-up weird Spring. My weather memory is too short to know for sure. Either way, this Spring is no friend to tomatoes or squash.

In our market…
It IS, however, a friend to our early Spring crops. (The Market is open, by the way). You’ll find cabbages, broccoli, and kale galore today, as well as carrots, but by the time you’ve read this, those’ll probably already be gone. I just grilled a mix of Kellogg’s broccoli florets and North Pulaski’s broccolini last night, and it was delicious. Yes, I grilled last night, and it was not good grilling weather.
Strawberries from three farms: Barnhill, Kornegay, and 5k Farms. Live it up, fruit-eaters. This is the beginning of fruit season. Kornegay is offering a special deal: 1 flat for $32. Jam, anyone?
Plenty of good grilling meats, if you’re feeling hopeful. Ratchford is offering a beef sampler, grill special, and bulk ground beef. Don’t forget your sausages and chicken hearts. Can you grill chicken hearts?
And, of course, plants. We may finally be in the clear to get our tomato plants into the soil safely. Plenty of people left with herbs and tomatoes yesterday. Kick your green thumb up a notch.

A little informal educational fun…
So, Certified Naturally Grown. What is that about? Our very own Kellogg Valley Farm is Certified Naturally Grown. Typically, CNG is overlooked in favor of Organic certification. Both are excellent programs, but CNG has its own unique values. Check the link out for more info. CNG excludes some synthetic substances that Organic allows. More interestingly, CNG has a participatory guarantee system, in which inspections are carried out by other farmers. In a certain sense, this may be a better guarantee of natural and organic farming practices, because, in the words of our own Rebecca Wild, when your inspector is also your competitor, he or she is a lot more likely to do a serious inspection. It’s an interesting alternative to the top-down system of inspections from officials who only visit every year or less.
A final feature about Certified Naturally Grown that I find interesting is that it’s meant as a complement to the National Organic Program. While the NOP primarily serves medium and large-scale agricultural operations, CNG is tailored for direct-market farms selling in their local communities. These farms often find that the NOP’s heavier paperwork requirements are not a good fit for their small-scale operations. The dynamics of certification are complicated, and education is the best way to navigate all these programs. Don’t overlook Certified Naturally Grown, and show your support of this certification by buying from Kellogg Valley Farm!

Southern Roots: An Evening of Local Food & Farmers.
Have you heard about our exciting upcoming fundraiser? Read the details and purchase tickets here. We’re partnering with the Oxford American and their new space on South Main to celebrate local food! So far, we’ve got an amazing list of farmers and artisans who will be contributing and even attending the event. A big THANKS to Special thanks and recognition to our contributing farmers:
Arkansas Natural Produce – Arkansas Fresh Bakery – Armstead Mountain Farm – Barnhill Orchards – Bussey-Scott Urban Garden – Farm Girl Natural Foods – Falling Sky Farm – Flyway Brewery – Kellogg Valley Farm – Kent Walker Artisan Cheese – Laughing Stock Farm – Loblolly Creamery – McSwain Ranch – Ratchford Farms & Exotic Meats – Rattle’s Garden – Rocktown Distillery – Stone’s Throw Brewery – Willow Springs Market Garden – Youngblood Grassfed Farm.

And some social networking from our farmers…

From Drewry Farm & Orchards: "several swarms today, note to self: tuck in pant legs next time…, the bees tend to crawl up your pant legs, they also like to sting the warm parts of your body, like top of the head, arm pits, and other spots, its the “other spots” that concered me..Nan"

From Tammy Sue’s Critters:
“The rain stayed away and we had a great morning at the Farmer’s Market. Thank you to all our friends!”

and from ABC Nature Greenhouse:
“It seems I have 2 of the very rare and hard to find, maybe soon to be extinct grapes in my front yard. They are the Muscat of Alexandria and the Black Monukka grapes. Woo hoo! I love it when you find things that are just on the verge ………….. and they are growing right here in Arkansas!”

See you guys next weekend!

Sam Hedges

Save All The Dates!

Spring seems to be the busiest season in Arkansas. So many events occur in that short window of weather that’s no longer too cold and not yet too hot. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy the season, here’s a sampling of what Little Rock has in store:
This Thursday at the Empty Bowls Art Auction and Dinner you can take home local artisan creations and support the great folks at Arkansas Foodbank. Sunday, April 28th you can dine on kosher creations at the Jewish Food and Culture Festival. Then, if all that charity and matzo leaves you with a hankering for bacon, get your fill at the Heritage Hog Roast on May 4th.

Doesn’t all this talk of delicious food sure make you want to take another pass at the Market before it closes?

Weblog Entry

Good Morning,
I think it’s finally safe to say that we are over the late frost hurdle. Tara Stainton of Rattle’s Garden spent this end of the week worrying over whether to cover her just transplanted tomatoes and squash, with weather forecasts saying, “Yeah.. it might get that cold.” Weather this Spring has been doing what it does best: keeping our farmers on their toes.
But, we are finally starting to see the fruits of the season, and the Market is open and full of great things!

Highlights down the Aisle…
Strawberries from Barnhill Orchards and 5k Farms! This refers to my clever language play up top: fruits of the season. Get it?
Broccoli Florets & Broccolini from Kellogg and North Pulaski. It cannot be understated how delicious 1st of the season broccoli is. The time window for this marvelous vegetable is short, so take advantage!
Candles on Sale. Maison Terre is offering 40% off on their soy-bee’s wax candles. Check them out under “Specials”.
Sausage! It’s like the other white meat, they say. But what does that mean? Farm Girl has a Sausage Sampler and their delicious Hmong Sausage. I tried to Hmong the other day; it is splendid and inventive.

Don’t forget our Arkansas Local Food Network shirts and tote bags! Preorder shirts under our Apparel category! Tote bags for sale at Food Club next weekend.

Fun times in Spring…
The Bake Sale was a tremendous success. We raised well over what we needed. If you haven’t voted for your favorite design, please do so on our Facebook page. Thanks for such a great turnout!
We had a wonderful time at the Earth Day Festival. Warm sunshine and lots of new faces. Kent made cheddar on a camp propane burner, which is an achievement in and of itself. And Bo Bennet of CANAS sampled some delicious, locally inspired juices.

What’s that? A fundraiser?

Keep an ear out over the next few days for our exciting upcoming fundraiser. All I will tell you now is that it involves the Oxford American, Southern gourmet food from our own Food Club growers, live music, and farmers’ stories. More on that soon!

Sam Hedges

Weblog Entry

It’s the peak of planting season. With only a few hours left to order from the market, are you sure you have enough heritage, native and GMO free starts to keep your garden going all year? As you take one last look at the vast selection offered by ABC Nursery and our other fantastic farmers, consider this: Can you ever have too many varieties of tomatoes? Is an over-abundance of herbs a problem or a blessing? Is this the year to garden-outside-the-box and finally commit to the mini-orchard of citrus trees you’ve always secretly wanted?

Speaking of our great growers, don’t miss out on Barnhill Orchard’s farm visit and fish fry!

So much is happening right now, but rest assured our Bake Sale preparations are well under way. Our best bakers are contributing so many different cookies, cakes, brownies and breads you won’t be able to choose. Get there early and you won’t have to!

Don’t you just love the taste of spring?

-Rebecca Wild

The Market is Blooming!

Good Morning Locavores,
The Market is open and looking so gosh darn nice. You don’t realize how nice it is until you see everything out in display on Saturday. Including, most recently, fifty one orders for Crimmins’ carrots.
Bake Sale!
First off, have you RSVP’d for our Bake Sale? This coming Saturday. Baked goods, proceeds going to a new page theme. And you’ll get to vote on the theme! Please consider bringing some baked goods for sale and contact us at Look forward to Strawberry & Cream Cupcakes from Sugar Shack Sweets and Vanilla Coffee Floats from Loblolly Creamery.
In the market…

FRESH STRAWBERRIES! From Doug and Brenda Kratz at 5k Farms in Hot Spring County. These berries are grown sustainably with no insecticides on their mixed fruit farm.
and since it is grilling season…
Farm Girl’s Pork: Mini Pork Share: A great seasonal selection of their best meats from Animal Welfare Approved, woodland raised happy hogs. 9-10 lbs of tender pork cuts, chorizo and italian sausages, linguica links, a fresh ham, 4 pork chops, and maple and hmong mini link sausages.
Falling Sky’s Smoked Pork Chops: I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying these chops several times. Their smoky flavor is amazing.
Don’t forget McSwayne Ranch’s lamb: a wide variety of delicious cuts.
Ratchford’s wide selection of grass-fed beef, including his Grill Master Special.
from our vegetable friends….
Lots of beautiful lettuces and salad mixes! Greens galore, but our very own Vera Chenault discovered a recipe to tame all greens into deliciousness (see below). I also see plenty of root veggies to enjoy.
Coconut Curry Kale w/ a twist: Slice one granny smith apple and one yellow onion, saute in 1 Tbs coconut oil in a large pot until soft. In a small bowl mix 3-4 Tbs curry powder with applesauce to make a paste and add that to the apple/onion mixture, along with 2 cans coconut milk. Then add a bunch of roughly chopped kale (or any green) Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring every now and then.
And don’t forget our plants and seedlings! I recommend perusing the plants section; there is a lot, including tomato, pepper, and herb plants.
From our Farmer friends…
Drewry Farm & Orchards had a great open house and farm tour!
Tammy Sue’s Critters recently had two sets of twin kids (baby goats) join their herd!
Youngblood Grassfed Farms is making headway on their butchery!
And, last but not least, the Raw Milk Bill. Governor Mike Beebee has signed a bill to legalize the selling of raw milk. This bill will open new doors to so many of our small farmers, as well as hopefully add a great new product to our market!

Sam Hedges

Weblog Entry

We’ve got great news to share:

On April 16th, Tales from the South will feature our very own Director of Operations, Sam Hedges. You can pick up tickets at their website. You don’t want to miss this!

ALFN T-Shirts have arrived! We’ll have your pre-ordered shirts available on Saturday during Food Club pick up. We’ll also have a few extras available, but I think they’ll go fast!
If you’re looking for a summer job check out Summer of Solutions 2013 Available to applicants 16-26, this program will help you develop the skills to bring environmental awareness and sustainability to your community.

And the best news of all –You still have time to take one last look at the market!

Weblog Entry

Good Morning,
The Market is open, and it is looking nice. Remember: order to your heart’s content. No need to hold back. It’s Spring, after all. In a few months time, you’ll be missing all the Spring lettuces and roots and greens, and you’ll say, “Doi! Why didn’t I order more?” At least, that’s how the conversation plays out in my head.
Nodes of Taste for the market this week…

Farm Girl has Poulet Libre: a variety of chicken with which basic roasting yields an unbelievably crispy golden skin over well-balanced and buttery, nearly sweet meat. Sounds delicious. Also, though they aren’t avaIable at the moment, I bought a Farm Girl stew chicken (i.e., retired laying hen) and slow cooked it the other week. The meat was flavorful and much more complex than standard chicken. I learned that it is true: with age comes beauty.
ANP’s Green Garlic: delicious pureed with garlic cloves, salt, and a little olive oil. Pungent and tangy.
Crimmins’ & Ratchford’s Beet Greens: don’t give up on them. They make delicious oven chips, with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and 450 degrees.
Crimmins’ Bright Lights Swiss Chard: I’m guessing this chard is the origin of neon color. You won’t believe how bright they are. In fact, all of Crimmins’ lettuces and produce are just beautiful right now. Like little edible works of art.

Plants. I’ve been really pleased with how many plants are coming through our market. Our Food Club members clearly have green thumbs. In fact, according to Bo Bennet of the Whole Foods’ produce department, Little Rock’s Whole Foods sells more plants than the mother Whole Foods in Austin, by a big margin. I dare say we have a rich connection to the land, and we’ve got more than enough plants for sale right now. There is also a Plant Swap this Saturday at the Bernice Garden, along with barbecue and poultry swapping. Sounds like a wicked Saturday.

Speaking of events, a lot is coming up this month. The Earth Day Festival. The Sustainability Summit. The Literary Festival. Farmers’ Markets opening. Don’t forget our Bake Sale on the 20th! Proceeds go to purchasing a new, prettier design for our market. Please consider contributing some baked goods and send us an e-mail at Loblolly will be there with Vanilla Coffee Floats!

AND, last but not least, a recipe to share, from
Kelly Carney of North Pulaski Farm, for his very own broccolini:
- North Pulaski’s broccolini, chopped
- 2 tbsp mayo/sour cream
- A good dash of sugar
- Dried minced onions
- 1/4 cup milk
- Crisp bacon
All tossed in a bowl and ceremoniously consumed in a matter of minutes (according to Kelly).
Sam Hedges

Don't Forget-

The Market closes tomorrow morning. Last call for Farm Girl’s pastured chickens, New South Nursery’s heirloom tomato plants and Crimmins Family Farm’s lovely tulip bouquets.

Speaking of lovely, have you seen the new themes available for our site? With your help, we’d like to give our market a makeover! During Food Club on April 20th we’re hosting a bake sale to raise funds for our new look. Be sure to pick up some tasty treats with your order and vote on which theme you like best. If you’d like to donate something confectionary to the cause, drop us a line at

And speaking of tasty, on Sunday, April 21st, Barnhill Orchards is hosting a farm visit and fish fry! You can check out their brand new high tunnel structure, walk the ground your fruits and vegetables grow in and chow down on delicious catfish and fixings. Click here for more information and to sign up.

We’ll see you Saturday!

-Rebecca Wild

This Week's News in Food

Good Morning,
I hope you are all celebrating birth and Spring this fine Sunday morning. There are many ways to celebrate the gifts life offers, and one of them is by ordering said gifts for your own enjoyment and nourishment.
So, the Market is open. We experienced some HUGE sales yesterday; the Spread the Word campaign is working. Keep it up!

Quick thought: a lot of farmers’ markets are soon to open. I believe attending the first Spring markets is an important part of the new season: you get to say Hello to your farmers after a long winter, enjoy time outdoors, and get some real community time.
May I suggest something…
Sales in Food Club typically drop off as other markets open, which makes perfect sense. There are more options for getting local food. And, as long as people are buying their food locally, who can complain? Many of our Food Club customers do the following: they get their staples from our market (bread, cheese, lettuces, meats) and visit the other farmers’ markets to enjoy socializing and buy the extra knick-knacks for their kitchen. We believe in networking markets together for the benefit of everyone. Get your food from a variety of markets; they have different things to offer. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. So, we encourage you to continue using Food Club regularly and enjoying your other markets simultaneously!

A big Thank You to Maison Terre for spending time at Food Club yesterday, showcasing her fantastically dyed eggs (see pictures on her Facebook page), spices, teas, and skills in all things herbal and beautiful.
Two things from Maison Terre:
Natural Egg Dye Recipes
Raised Bed Plans.

Check THIS Out…
We have a new vendor! Please welcome New South Nursery. Tom Frothingham manages an 18-acre farm and nursery in West Pulaski County. He specializes in native plants and saves and cultivates his plants specific to our region, using Integrated Pest Management and organic fertilizers. Look for his native wildflowers, vines, fig trees, and vegetable plants under our Plants section. Here’s a word from Tom himself… "Hello everyone, this Tom Frothingham. My involvement with sustainable agriculture stretches back over 30 years, with a particular interest in native plant conservation for the last 10 years. New South Nursery focuses on Arkansas native plants, but my love of plants is pretty eclectic so we offer a number of non native plants, including heirloom vegetables, herbs, carnivorous plants and fig trees. I’m very excited to be a part of the Arkansas Local Food Network, and I look forward to a great growing season this year. "

Farm Girl Natural Foods is back in our market, with a variety of tasty meats. They’ve got all cuts of chicken, plus stew birds and whole chickens. Fresh Ham. This caught my eye: Hmong Sausage: a Northern Thai sausage featuring unique asian flavors. I’m eager to try it out!

North Pulaski has a lot of beautiful, green-purple broccolini. I’ll be roasting my broccolini from yesterday’s pickup later.

It’s warm and occasionally not wet outside. Time to do some grilling. Farm Girl, Falling Sky, and Youngblood Grassfed Meats have a variety of pork chops, sausages, and bratwursts. Don’t forget our offerings for grassfed beef!

Crimmins Family Farm is bursting at the seems with produce. I think they may have a pest problem, because they appear to be emptying out organic rabbit food onto our market at unparalleled rates.

Fun Farmer Updates:
Here are the Farmers’ Markets opening this April and May!
15 Shade Tolerant Plants for your shady yard.
Drewry Farm & Orchards is having a Plant Sale.
Rattle’s Garden Flower Ladder.
Falling Sky Farm raised $10,000 in under three weeks! Three cheers! Crowdfunding works, people!

There’s a million more bits of news to share in this ever-growing local food landscape. Stay tuned for delicious updates.
Sam Hedges

Ovos, eier, huevos, uova, oeufs!

Whatever you call them, there’s only 16 hours left to get them from the market! Be sure to order everything you need for a fantastic Easter: ham, fresh veggies and eggs, eggs, eggs!

If you’re looking for another way to make it a fun weekend, check out the 5th Annual Conway Seed Swap and Local Foods Festival. Starting at 1:00 this Saturday, stop by the Faulkner County Museum to celebrate sustainable food, check out sponsor booths and get dirty with some hands-on demonstrations of traditional skills. The seed swap is free, but for a mere $5 donation you can enjoy live music (starting at 2:00) well into the evening while supporting a great cause!

-Rebecca Wild
ALFN Food Club Coordinator