Just last Tuesday, I was so excited to arrive to the traditional sight of a huge tractor and red - roofed building at Moss Mountain Farm in Roland, Arkansas, just about 30 minutes from my home in West Little Rock. I'd heard from several reliable friends that the place was a must see, so I was delighted when I received an invitation from the P. Allen Smith team to join a group of other well known bloggers from around the state for the Farm2Home 2014 event. The event focused on the benefits of eating and choosing Arkansas grown and Arkansas made products. Made possible by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, it was a great opportunity to tour the farm, learn more about farming, and hear from advocates of the Arkansas Grown program about why everyone in Arkansas should eat local.
Mr. Smith was quite the hospitable host as he addressed us all under his sprawling 300 year old oak tree and shared the background of his 650+ acres of land which overlooks the beautiful Arkansas River Valley. As we followed him into his home, we all divided up to tour, someone mentioning that of course the foodies went to the kitchen first. So true!
Allen is a well - known expert in categories such as gardening, decor, and sustainable living. His contributions have been shared in many publications such as People, The New York Times, Southern Living, and The Dallas Morning News. The interior of his residence is warm and reflective of his love of nature.
The scenic drive to Moss Mountain brought us to even more beautiful scenery all around the farm.
Farmers markets are always enjoyable because of the sight of many bountiful baskets of fruit and vegetables. But it's even better to see the vegetables at the farm on the tree or vine! If you enjoy farmers markets, I encourage you to get to know a farmer and visit their farm...
The gardens of Moss Mountain were full of wonderful produce including these blackberries that we were able to pick and sample along our tour.
We enjoyed the tour of the farm on a glorious, sunny day. I imagined it must take a huge team of people to keep up this beauty! Farming sounded like hard work, and as I followed along, I began to appreciate farmers even more that day.
I enjoyed the result of the hard work put into Moss Mountain. Gorgeous, fragrant flowers and interesting eye - catching structures helped take my mind away, because a day at the farm for me involved nothing but the enjoyment of walking and taking in the view.
The rose garden was quite a sight to see! On the left and right of the octagonal mini castle there were also similar square brick structures that matched. Wouldn't you love to walk through that iron gate in a wedding gown if you're not already married? What a great place for a wedding! You can see some beautiful wedding photography against this backdrop here.
The view of floating lily pads and the rock fountain added to the tranquility of our walk around the area.
As we returned to our meeting area, we were greeted by some of the heritage poultry that resides on the farm. I believe we were told that there were 18 different breeds there. Poultry conservation is another one of the many great projects happening on the farm.
For lunch, we were treated to the US Foods 2013 Next Top Product winner: the Black Bean Burger, created by Chef Jerrmy Gawthrop, co-owner of Greenhouse Grille in Fayetteville, AR. The burger was comprised of a Greek yogurt bun, citrus slaw, pepper jack cheese, and avocado aioli. We love aioli! What a great burger!
Chef Jerrmy along with co-owner Clayton Suttle will open Wood Stone Craft Pizza and Bar next to Greenhouse Grille in July this year. Later on in December, they also plan to construct an actual greenhouse on the premises as well. Chef Jerrmy is one of the many thought leaders in the state who utilizes as much locally grown food as possible on his menu in his restaurant. He has won multiple awards in various categories in the Arkansas Times Readers Choice survey over the years that Greenhouse Grille has been open.
We also received a sampling of the P. Allen Smith Green Goddess Cole Slaw, some of the best I've ever eaten in my life. I am making that recipe! We just saw the abundance of cabbage on our tour, and Allen said that there was so much cabbage on the farm, they decided to make cole slaw.
We also enjoyed a wonderful Greek yogurt cheesecake! Thanks to US Foods for sponsoring and preparing our lunch.
Farm2Home 2014 was sponsored by the Arkansas Agriculture Department in partnership with the P. Allen Smith team. We all learned more about the AAD's Arkansas Grown program which helps identify locally grown food, farms, and farmers markets across the state. The goal is to get more Arkansas grown products on plates, whether at home or in a restaurant. I believe that among the 25 of us bloggers that attended the event, every one of us agreed with all the great reasons to eat local. Benefits include taste, economic growth, better soil health, good nutrition, and food safety. I'd consider us all proponents for the cause!
I have many more pictures and additional information to share in another post. In the meantime, if you'd like to continue reading about the event, here are some other resources from the Farm2Home 2014 event.
Farm2Home on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pallen_smith/farm2home/
Farm2Home online flip book: http://www.pallensmith.com/Digital-Publications/others/F2H/
Farm2Home I Feel Good video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152489432689573
Dining with Debbie: http://diningwithdebbie.net/2014/06/20/feel-good-farm2home14/
One World Plate: http://oneworldplate.com/2014/06/18/farm2home14/
Arkansas Food & Farm: http://www.arkansasfoodandfarm.com/