Last week, I got the opportunity to revisit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm to participate in Farm2Home 2014, a full day event sponsored by Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made, programs created by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, in partnership with P. Allen Smith to promote eating and buying local. I’m a big fan of eating ingredients purchased from local farmers’ markets, as well as shopping at locally owned boutiques and eating at locally owned restaurants, so this event was right in my wheelhouse!
Besides, who wouldn’t want to spend a day at Moss Mountain Farm?
We arrived to a delicious breakfast spread and a quick introduction from Allen before touring his gorgeous home and gardens. For more photos of the home, check out this post from my visit a couple weeks ago when I was invited to attend an event for #AR549.
The gardens were in full, summery bloom and as Allen led us down the garden paths, he pointed out the different plants and was happy to answer any of our gardening queries! I’ve always been so impressed with these gardens and the way the home has a 6,000 gallon cistern under the yard that collects rainwater to water the plants with.
After the tour, Allen and Butch Calhoun, Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Arkansas, gave a brief talk about the importance of supporting local growers, and then we were given the opportunity to chat with a panel of farmers from around Arkansas including Beth Eggers from Wye Mountain Flowers and Berries, Mark Morgan of Peach Pickin’ Paradise, Chuck McCool of McCool Farms and Bob Barnhill of Barnhill Orchards. Hearing directly from these farmers was enlightening, and they really do rely so heavily on our support both at farmers markets and, as in Morgan’s case, visiting the orchards in person.
After a quick tour of the vegetable gardens (where we ate blackberries right off the branch), we were treated to lunch by Chef Jerrmy Gawthrop from Greenhouse Grille in Fayetteville. Award-winning black bean burger with a Greek yogurt bun (yum)…triple berry baby kale salad (yummmm) and for dessert, Greek yogurt cheese cake with a raspberry peach sauce (YUMMMMMM). Before we could fall into a delicious food coma, it was time for the good stuff: a mini-farmers market, just for us!
Farmers and producers from all over the state (and participants in the Arkansas Grown and Arkansas Made programs) were set up under a huge tent, offering samples and telling us about their farms. Above, Bob Barnhill and Butch Calhoun talk seriously about heirloom tomatoes.
We sampled berries, cheese, muscadine wine (!), breads, cakes. And yes, I’m aware that we had just finished a huge meal. But we couldn’t….stop…sampling. There was plenty of time to talk to each farmer and learn about what they do and where and how.
And Loblolly’s ice cream truck was there, too. More sampling, duh.
My friend Hannah and I chatted for a long time with Ethan and Ellyse, the brother-sister team from Heirloom Kitchens and Ethan’s Heirloom Gardens who create baked goods from passed-down recipes and grow heirloom plants as well.
We also met Josh Hardin of Laughing Stock Farms, Joseph Post of Post Familie Winery, Joey of EG’s Funky Yard Bird BBQ sauce, the sassy gals from Wicked Mix, plus many more – all of which you can read about here on the Arkansas Grown website.
Our final tour of the day was to see Allen’s “Poultry Palace”, a large barn built to house the number of heritage chicken breeds raised at Moss Mountain Farm, including Silver Lace Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, White-Faced Black Spanish, and Silver Spangled Hamburgs.
And after all that, we were treated to one last party, with music by the always lovely Bonnie Montgomery, cocktails and treats before heading home. It was an awesome (albeit sweaty and a bit dusty) day and one that sent me home thinking about all that Arkansas has to offer. We’re lucky to have the type of weather and seasons that allow us to produce food most months of the year.
If you’re interested in learning more, be sure and check out the Arkansas Grown website, as well as P. Allen Smith’s website, for ways that you can support a local farmer. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest checking out a farmers market and getting to know the farmers you’re buying from.
The Bernice Garden Farmers Market, Sundays from 10am-2pm, is my personal favorite and you’ll see me there almost every weekend. It’s also right down the street from some local favorites like Boulevard Bread, the Green Corner Store and Loblolly Creamery, The Root Cafe and Clement/Sweet Home.
Where do you shop for local goods?