Farm Tours Offer a Chance to Learn About Arkansas Producers
By University of Arkansas
First posted on 04-27-2010
By Kat Robinson for the U of A Division of Agriculture
With spring comes that favorite of food lovers, the farmers market. But have you ever wanted to know more about the farms that bring their produce to market?
Here’s your chance. The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute has teamed up with the online market Conway Locally Grown to offer tours of some of Arkansas productive farms through the summer. The first of these tours is April 25; subsequent tours will be offered once a month.
Joanna Seibert, a program specialist with the University of Arkansas – Winthrop Rockefeller Institute says the pairing is a new one for the institute. “We decided to pair up to offer members of Conway Locally Grown and members of Little Rock Locally Grown (an online market managed by the Arkansas Sustainability Network), as well as folks on our Agritourism mailing list, a chance to visit the farms supplying Arkansas-grown food to these two online markets.”
Partners in the Arkansas Agritourism Initiative include UAWRI, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, the state Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the National Agricultural Law Center.
The first of the tours will take attendees to Hardin Farms in Grady and to Arkansas Natural Produce in Malvern. At Hardin Farms, guests will have the chance to view a fifth generation family farm, observe its operations and learn about some of the 40 crops grown there and at the farm’s naturally grown section, Laughing Stock Farms, where lunch is served at the farm’s cafÃ©. Guests will be driven from there to Arkansas Natural Produce, where they’ll see first-hand the greenhouse operation that brings micro greens, salad greens, lettuces and edible flowers to Arkansas tables.
Seibert says the program offers a rare chance for agritourists.
“We offer participants lunch and a diversity of small-scale farms in Arkansas, where participants can meet their farmer, ask questions, and see what they’re doing on their land,” she said, adding, “This is not a for-profit venture; we’re really trying to offer an affordable opportunity for people to become more engaged and aware of where their food comes from. In fact, in other states, it’s common for farm tours to cost $150.”
The upcoming tour and those to follow will run attendees just $40, including lunch. Those who register to attend the tours will have the option of boarding the tour bus in Conway or Little Rock. More information on the next tour can be found at http://www.uawri.org/public/Agriculture/farmtourflyer-wri version.pdf.
Information on other agritourism opportunities for Arkansas producers can be found at http://www.aragriculture.org/aai/default.asp
Seibert says the tours are a pilot program for the Institute, and that plans may change with the weather.
“We may decide to skip one of the summer months because of the heat,” she said. “Some of the goals include exposing the Locally Grown members to the farmers who grow their food, as well as raising awareness about opportunities like online markets and how to connect with local food networks.”
These tours fall under environmental programs hosted by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, promoting good stewardship of the land, sustainable practices and resource conservation. If you’re interested in joining a tour or would like more information about agritourism, contact Joanna Seibert at or Marcus Looney at .