Hi there, friend.
Whatcha’ been up to lately?
I have been running around and slowing down, if that is even possible.
Something inside of me is blossoming, begging me to open up my eyes wider and marvel more. Sometimes that means doing nothing other than savoring the moment while other times it means exploring.
I have been exploring a lot more lately. Have you?
We’ve been taking the long way to everywhere. Determining how long we can go without having to go grocery shopping and just make do with what we have. Opening up the house more to family gatherings, both planned and impromptu. The icing on the cake was coming home from a backwoods Sunday drive and meeting up with family who were having a lake swimming party in our backyard. Yes, our home went and threw a party without us. Love that.
Mostly I want to open my eyes more to what is around me. Around all of us. I am visiting the farmers markets more frequently and keeping my eyes wide-open to side-of-the-road fruit stands and pick-your-owns in our vast backyard. Even grocery stores are starting to highlight local produce with signs and banners. Isn’t that awesome?
Life has limited hours, days, and moments to explore these kind of local gems. How often do we even know what is actually available to us right outside our homes? I do my best to share quick finds on twitter and facebook and am constantly keeping my ears open when you share your local finds and resources.
Neighbors helping neighbors.
That’s what we do.
There is a new neighborly resource for finding local grown.
It is called Arkansas Grown.
ArkansasGrown is a website that connects buyers (you and me) with locally grown produce (our neighbors) and products that are available at farmer’s markets, from the farm, and even at grocery stores.
Seriously, you totally have to check it out.
I learned about Arkansas Grown at the #farm2home blogger event at P. AllenSmith’s farm in Roland, Arkansas. Allen invited a group of Arkansas bloggers, writers, and journalists to learn about the Arkansas Grown program from Butch Calhoun, Arkansas’s Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Calhoun is proud of the program, saying, “We want everybody who wants to be involved, to be involved.”
Taking it all in.
I love Allen’s farm.
The main purpose of his farm is to “sell ideas,” as he puts it.
To me, he sells inspiration.
Allen took us all on a tour of his home, gardens, and poultry farm. This is my third visit here (#bean2blog2012 and#bean2blog2013) and each time revealed something new and inspirational. The first time I was in the middle of remodeling my home, so architectural elements jumped out at me. The second visit inspired me to rethink hardscape in the yard, as we were progressing into remodeling the exterior of our home.
This time? The event’s theme of embracing local is one I love and heartily embrace.
This time I was there for the marvel of it all.
In addition to touring the garden home, the main focus was the opportunity to meet and mingle with local Arkansas farmers and producers and listen to small-farm lessons from a panel of Arkansas farmers: Beth Eggers of Wye Mountain Flowers, Mark Morgan of Peach Pickin’ Paradise, Chuck McCool of McCool Farms, and Bob Barnhill of Barnhill Orchards. You would have loved listening to their stories and honest revelations of hard work and dedication it takes to run a farm. Here are my favorite quotes that personally inspired me.
|Beth Eggers, Wye Mountain Flowers & Berries – Mark Morgan, Peach Pickin’ Paradise –|
Chuch McCool, McCool Farms – Bob Barnhill, Barnhill Orchards
Beth: “Support your local farmer and get to know them. When our customers and their kids appreciate us, we are encouraged.” My takeaway: Talk to each vendor at the farmers market.
Mark: “Pick-your-own farms are more like a tourism thing.” My takeaway: Tour more pick-your-own farms.
Chuck: “It doesn’t take a lot of land to grow a good crop.” My takeaway: Plant more container gardens.
Bob: “Have high quality products and the best product possible.” My takeaway: Local tastes better.
The great thing about the Arkansas Grown website is that it allows us to browse local producers in our small towns. It also allows the small-scale farmers to have a marketing presence and alerting us to their websites, newsletters,facebook pages, and other social media platforms that they are using to get the word out.
|Loblolly Creamery – hand crafted ice cream made in Little Rock|
|Heirloom Kitchens – a brother and sister team that bakes vintage recipes|
|Post Winery – the largest winery in Arkansas and the first commercial vineyard to produce|
|Diamond Bear Brewery – made with “great Arkansas water”|
|Wicked Mix – manufactured from scratch in Little Rock|
|Greenhouse Grille – local #Northwest Arkansas restaurant that sources 40% of its menu locally|