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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.

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