Monday, July 1, 2013

Saturday Morning Farmers' Market in Hillcrest

Hillcrest Farmers Market
You need a good Arkansas tomato in your life 

     Pulaski Heights Baptist Church has helped bring "the neighborhood back into the neighborhood" with its popular, fun Hillcrest Farmers Market, a teeming Saturday morning spot where you can find fresh local produce, home-baked bread and confections, flowers, local cheeses and meats - and your neighbors. 
    Carolyn Staley, associate pastor for the church, 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd., said the market is open every Saturday 7 a.m. to noon, and will be open 8 a.m. to noon beginning in October.
    "They (the vendors) are all local farmers or producers,"  Mrs. Staley said. "The rule is you have to grow what you sell.  They are all from the central Arkansas area.  We have farmers who grow vegetables and fruits.  We have dairy.  We have meat.  And we have lots of bakers. We have flowers and bath soaps made in the kitchen."

Madison Barnhill
Barnhill Orchards
Bob Barnhill (in background) 
Family owned and run produce farm in Lonoke 
Email and find them on Facebook.

      Foods sold are for Arkansas' growing season, she said, adding that some farmers grow in houses so that they can offer strawberries and tomatoes earlier.
     "Everything is right off the vine, from right here in the state," Carolyn said. 
      Some members of Pulaski Heights Baptist had seen the busy stream of bikers, 
dog walkers, joggers and strollers going past in the front of the church for years and decided the church should make its presence known.
     "We said, 'We want to know our neighbors.  What is a service we can provide that will add to quality of life?'  We wanted the community to know that we are a serving church.  We care about food … about food security."   
      So the notion of a market that would sell wholesome, locally grown food was realized right on the front steps of the church and the sidewalks along its front.
      "We have been so pleased. It's like a little block party.  Someone told us, 'You've brought the neighborhood back into the neighborhood.' We love the idea of being able to help farmers make a living.  Many of our growers have told us that the market has enabled them to add a couple of employees.

Kelley Carney
North Pulaski Farms
Certified organic fruits and veggies; grows year round in high tunnel hoop houses using sustainable practices to conserve water and retain carbon.

Ethan Frazier, and his sister, Ellyse Frazier,
Ethan's Heirloom Garden
Ethan is an organic farmer with a passion for food from seed to plate.  You may email him at He has plants for starts. Find him on Facebook. 

Rebecca Berry
Andrew Kenley (middle)
Kyle Melton
Little Rock Urban Farming 
Find them on Facebook 

      "And we are able to share information about our church," Carolyn said.  "We don't pressure anybody.  Nobody has to stop at the church tent.  But people stop to chitchat.  We have an email list they can sign if they want to know about church events, such as concerts, rummage sales or Easter egg hunts. We have children's crafts from nine to noon."
      And the beautiful gesture that the church put out into the universe has come back to it.
      Carolyn said the church folk have had a great time manning the hospitality tent. It's become a morning when they can sit, relax and visit with other members, many of whom they haven't had the chance to spend time with because of normal, busy church schedules. 
     Next Saturday, ride, walk or jog on down to the market.
     You need a good Arkansas tomato in your life.  And some blackberries big as your thumb.  And a giant red sunflower.  Some fresh-baked bread.  And a smile from your neighbor. 

This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and appeared in the July 2013 issue of Shoppe Talk