Category Archives: Local Economy

Green Giving: Give Food! Part 3

Back from left to right - My homemade peach butter & apple butter. Front - My homemade strawberry jam. All made using Arkansas fruits. Photo by Nao Ueda.

The Green Giving series continues today with more ideas on how to give food instead of “stuff” this holiday season.

I give same things to folks every year for holidays. This year is no different. My holiday gifts consist of:

  • Homemade strawberry jam made with Arkansas strawberries
  • Homemade blackberry jam made with Arkansas blackberries
  • Homemade peach butter made with Arkansas peaches
  • Homemade apple butter made with Arkansas Black apples
  • Local honey or sorghum
  • War Eagle Mill cornmeal (upon request from family members)
  • Homemade candied pecans made with Arkansas pecans

Nothing says “I love you” like homemade goodies. In return, Eddy’s family always gives us fresh shrimp from South Carolina where they live. We enjoy the shrimp throughout the year, throwing them into gumbo, pasta, omlets, and on top of pizzas.

Not much of a cook? Don’t worry. Several Arkansas farmers offer jams, jellies, honey, and sorghum for sale, including:

War Eagle Mill and the House of Webster also offer jams, jellies, and preserves, so check them out!

This concludes the Green Giving series. The world is full of “stuff.” We can all do our part to keep “stuff” out of landfill, support local economy, and see our loved ones happy. Let’s give green this holiday season!

Support Independent Bookstores!

Photo by Nao Ueda

I normally shy away from buying books. Eddy and I have moved several times, and we learned the hard way that books make moving highly unpleasant. We try very hard to prevent a book from taking up residence at our home by borrowing them from our local public library. From time to time, though, you have to buy a book, and with some of them, you have to buy new. So, the other day, I found myself at WordsWorth Books in Little Rock. Here’s the conversation that I had with a store clerk:

Me: Hi! I’m looking for this particular study guide.

WordsWorth Books: I’m sorry, but we don’t carry a copy of it. I think Barnes & Noble has one.

Me: Um, well, the problem is I don’t like to shop at Barnes & Noble.

WordsWorth Books: Me neither!

Independently-owned bookstores have been in decline in recent years, thanks to big chains and online booksellers. Arkansas is no exception to this national trend, with several independent bookstores closing their doors the last several years (Lorenzen and Faded Fables, both of Little Rock, and That Bookstore at Mountebanq Place in Conway).

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) says independent bookstores are more than just retail outlets – they’re gathering places for book-lovers and neighbors. I agree. Every time I visited Lorenzen and Faded Fables, I felt like I was buying from people I know and trust. I was also able to support local economy, which I find to be important. Locally-owned businesses reinvest more of my money in my community than do big chains. This helps create greater diversity and enable the community to maintain its distinctive character.

When Little Rock lost Lorenzen and Faded Fables, we became a bit more like any other American city. Thank goodness we still have WordsWorth Books!

But, we have to do our part to support independent bookstores. So, next time you’re in market for a book, visit your local bookstore!

As for my study guide, WordsWorth Books ordered a copy for me, which arrived two days later. The service was great, and I was able to support a local business. Needless to say, I was happy as a clam!

Saturday To-Do: Handmade for the Holidays

WHAT: Handmade for the Holidays

WHEN: Saturday, November 13 – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

WHERE: ArtChurch Studios (301 Whittington Avenue) in Hot Springs

Event showcases high quality, handsome products from local artists and crafters. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit http://handmadealliance.weebly.com or call (501) 781-5281.

Tuesday To-Do: Growing Arkansas’ Green Economy Conference

Arkansas can no longer afford business as usual. The Growing Arkansas’ Green Economy Conference faces this challenge and brings together the brightest innovators leading the growth of the new green economy in the state.

Join Pulaski County Brownfields Program and other partners on Tuesday, October 26 in North Little Rock to forge new strategic partnerships and get the inside view on the current trends and technologies. Explore the latest in sustainability strategies and best practices, and lead your organization to success.

Speakers include:

  • Carlton Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Full Spectrum
  • John Coleman, Sustainability Director, City of Fayetteville
  • Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, President, Philander Smith College
  • Scott Reed, Reed Realty Advisors
  • Rev. Malik Saafir, Chair, Environmental Justice Committee, Village Commons
  • Ragan Sutterfield, Founder, Felder Farm
  • Jasmin Moore, Planner, Metroplan

Yours truly, along with Jasmin Moore with the Metroplan and Melinda Glasgow with the City of Little Rock, will conduct a workshop in the morning and afternoon.

Conference registration is free. RSVP by visiting here.

For more information, please contact the Pulaski County Brownfields Office at (501) 340-6157 or visit: https://sites.google.com/site/gageconference/home.

Register for Growing Arkansas’ Green Economy Conference

Arkansas can no longer afford business as usual. The Growing Arkansas’ Green Economy Conference faces this challenge and brings together the brightest innovators leading the growth of the new green economy in the state.

Join Pulaski County Brownfields Program and other partners on Tuesday, October 26 in North Little Rock to forge new strategic partnerships and get the inside view on the current trends and technologies. Explore the latest in sustainability strategies and best practices, and lead your organization to success.

Speakers include:

  • Carlton Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Full Spectrum
  • John Coleman, Sustainability Director, City of Fayetteville
  • Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, President, Philander Smith College
  • Rev. Malik Saafir, Chair, Environmental Justice Committee, Village Commons
  • Ragan Sutterfield, Founder, Felder Farm
  • Jasmin Moore, Planner, Metroplan

Conference registration is free. Please RSVP by October 12, 2010, by visiting here.

For more information, please contact the Pulaski County Brownfields Office at (501) 340-6157 or visit: https://sites.google.com/site/gageconference/home.

Book Review – The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

Full disclosure. I only picked up this book because my friend invited me to her book club, and the club was reading it last month. I’m not sure if I would have picked up this book on my own.

I love food. I love good food. I’ve been a locavore since birth, but my local eating habits were disrupted for a brief period (well, actually more like several years) after I moved to the United States. In my home country, we buy fresh produce, meat, and fish at markets. We don’t buy food at Wal Mart, and we certainly don’t have bread and milk that last for a couple of weeks.

Since I love to eat locally, I’ve picked up my fair share of books on this subject. Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon, Joel Salatin. So, left on my own, I may have picked up Ben Hewitt’s The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food.

Then again, maybe not. I’m a doer. I don’t like to just read about things. I want to do them. That’s why I garden, keep chickens and duck, tend to bees, make cheese using local farm fresh milk, roast coffee, and preserve harvest. My partner Eddy bakes bread and brews beer. Doing things keeps us busy that we rarely have time to read about local food these days.

So, left on my own, I may or may not have picked up Hewitt’s book. I’m glad that I did because 1) I learned about the guy who sells me seeds every year, and 2) I learned a lot about the town of Hardwick, Vermont.

Located in northern Vermont, the town of Hardwick, population 3,200, used to prosper from the local granite industry but has since fallen on hard times. Enter a group of young, energetic agricultural entrepreneurs, or agripreneurs. A seed seller, an artisan cheese maker, organic farmers, a chef, livestock slaughterers. They breathe vitality back into Hardwick by creating a new economy centered around local food. Soon the town captures national media attention but garners local skepticism from those who have been engaged in local food movement much longer than agripreneurs.

Since I buy seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds, I enjoyed reading about Tom Stearns who started the company a few miles outside of Hardwick. Stearns became a de facto spokesperson for Hardwick’s local food movement after it began receiving national media attention. He touts the town’s new found vitality as an economic model that can and should be exported to other parts of the country.

But did Hardwick really find vitality in local food? Hewitt writes that the majority of Hardwick residents can’t and don’t access locally grown organic produce or $20-per-pound artisan cheese. None of the agripreneurs is turning profits.

Hewitt is honest about challenges faced by the town’s new economy. He doesn’t offer answers. Instead, he leaves readers wondering if Hardwick was really saved by food.

Despite the grandiose title that does not match the story, Hewitt’s book is a good read for anyone interested in local food movement.

Wednesday To-Do: Keep It LOCAL! Keep It REAL! Panel Discussion & Roundtable

WHAT: Keep it LOCAL! Keep it REAL! Panel Discussion & Roundtable.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 25 – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Fayetteville Public Library (401 W. Mountain) in Fayetteville

WHO:

  • Shelly Buoniauto will talk about Local Currencies and why they can be so important to stimulating the local economies.
  • Martin Jardon will talk about his nonprofit, Fayetteville Community Exchange Bank, where members exchange services.
  • Rich Creyer with Local Trade Partners will talk about his local currency that got started earlier in this year that has swelled to over 250 member partners in Washington and Benton Counties.
  • Local Small Businessman (to be announced) will talk about importance of patronizing small business and the multiplier effects of how those dollars get retained in the local economies.
  • Local City of Fayetteville Official (to be announced) will talk about the importance of patronizing businesses within Fayetteville to provide necessary sales tax revenue which in turn go toward city services, police, fire, parks, streets, sidewalks, trails, etc.

Co-hosted by Fayetteville Forward Green Economy Group, the event will be televised, shown on CAT, (Community Access Television), Channel 18.

For information, contact Mikel Lolley at (479) 841-7801.