Eating local has become the new call to arms among environmentalists and health conscious individuals everywhere. Eating local has several advantages: normally the food is fresher because it's harvested nearby and needs no preservatives or chemicals, you learn to eat seasonally when foods taste best, you support your local economy and local foods have a lower carbon footprint because they don't need to be transported as far and oftentimes, small farms are more likely to use environmentally friendly processes than larger, mass market farms. There's a book titled, "Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet" by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon that gives more insight into the movement or you can check out About's Local Foods site.
Since Arkansas is an agricultural state, we have plenty of opportunities to eat locally or, as they say, become a locavore. Even in the big city of Little Rock, there are opportunities to support local agriculture.
The Argenta Farmer's Market -
The Argenta Farmer's Market is a “source verified” market. All vendors have been inspected to verify that they are the source of the product they are selling. Nothing outside of Arkansas can be sold at the market. It's the easiest way to be assured of local food.
The market is open from Saturday, April thru September in downtown North Little Rock's Argenta district on Saturdays from 7 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Where to go: The Argenta district is located in downtown North Little Rock, not far from Verizon Arena. The Farmer's Market is at 6th and Main Streets. (Map)
Bernice Garden Farmer's Market -
Any Arkansas farmer or gardener is welcome to sell what they raise and produce. Farmers, gardeners and growers can rent a 10 ft. by 10 ft. space at the market for $10 each Sunday. Local artists, musicians and food providers also can rent space at the Farmers’ Market. It's one of the most fun farmer's markets in the city.
The Bernice Garden is open from April until Mid November every Sunday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., rain or shine.
Where to go: The market is located at 1401 South Main Street, in downtown Little Rock, near The Root cafe.
River Market Farmer's Market -
Located in the Little Rock Farmer's Market, there is no requirement to be locally grown to have a booth here. Many local farmers do display their goods at this market and those vendors normally display the "Arkansas Grown" logo. This market normally has a larger variety than the others.
The River Market Farmer's Market is open Tuesdays and Saturdays May 27, 2014 - August 26, 2014. It's open Saturdays only May 3, 2014 - October 25, 2014. Hours on Tuesdays are from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Directions: The market is located in the open-air pavilions behind the River Market building in downtown Little Rock.
Hillcrest Farmers Market -
This is another all local market that has locally-grown vegetables, fruit, cheese, flowers, pasture-raised meat, poultry and dairy, eggs, and locally produced jams, jellies, bread and candy.
Hillcrest Farmers Market now operates Saturdays year-round. Spring-Summer hours are 7 a.m. to Noon. October to April hours are 8 a.m. to Noon. They utilize the building when it's really cold.
Where to go: Located in the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church parking lot (2200 Kavanaugh)
Other, less expansive, markets-
Maumelle has a small farmer's market at 449 Millwood Circle, in a parking lot. The "Arkansas Home Grown Market" can be found on 8700 N. Rodney Parham in the church parking lot. The YWCA at 1200 S Cleveland sometimes has a small produce market too. They generally tend to open up around April, like the bigger Farmer's Markets. There's also an online version of a locally grown market.
Restaurants Serving Local Foods
There are some restaurants that strive to use local foods whenever possible. A few them are listed below. If you know of a restaurant that uses local foods for most of their menu choices, email me and let me know.
Some of these are pretty pricey, but a few of them are bargains.
Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel
111 W Markham St
400 President Clinton Ave.
Brave New Restaurant
2300 Cottondale Ln # 105
411 Main St. (Argenta Arts District, Downtown North Little Rock)
The Root Cafe
1500 Main St
ZaZa Fine Salad and Wood-Oven Pizza Co.
5600 Kavanaugh Blvd. (behind the Heights Theater)
17809 Chenal Parkway
Lilly's Dim Sum, Then Some
11121 N Rodney Parham Rd
8201 Cantrell Road
Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave.
3701 Old Cantrell Rd
Hillcrest Artisan Meats (not really a restaurant, but they have some prepared foods and local meats)
2807 Kavanaugh Boulevard, Suite B
Little Rock, AR 72205
Local Meats & Dairy
Most from grass fed animals. Some are certified-organic, but some small farms cannot afford to be certified, but still raise their animals organically.
- Falling Sky Farms (meats)
- Farm Girl Natural Foods (meats)
- Petit Jean Farms (meats)
- Waterfall Hollow Farm (beef)
- Greener Pastures (beef)
- Ozark Pasture Beef (beef)
- Kent Walker Cheese (cheese)
- War Eagle Mill - Organic grains ground locally on water-powered stone buhr mill.
- North Pulaski Farms (produce)
- Williams Berry Farm (berries)
- Collins Orchard (fruit)
- Suzanne's Fruit Farm (fruit trees, berries)
- Mountain Home Berry Farm (berries, asparagus, radishes, lettuce, onions)
- Cox Berry Farm (apples, peaches, berries)
- Hardin Farms (produce)
- Drewry Farm and Market (orchards and vegetables)
- Armstead Mountain Farm (produce)
- Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival - Warren, AR - Normally in June
- Purple Hull Pea Festival - Emerson, AR - Normally in June
- Hope Watermelon Festival - Hope, AR - Normally in August
- Arkansas Apple Festival - Lincoln, AR - Normally in October
- Arkansas Rice Rice Festival - Weiner, AR - Normally in October
- Grand Prairie Rice Festival - Hazen, AR - Normally in October
- Strawberry Festival - Cabot, AR - Normally in April
- Grape Fest - Altus, AR. Normally in July.
- Spinach Fest - Alma, AR - Normally in April
- Johnson County Peach Festival - Clarksville - Normally in June