23 May 2015 Great foods grown in our backyard
by Katelin Whiddon
Everyone can benefit from eating healthier, and eating fresh local produce is one way we can make those improvements.
Living in Arkansas, we are blessed with an abundance of rich vegetation. We have planted our first garden, and “fingers crossed,” it will produce all that we have planted. Our backyard is not big enough, nor is our POA excited about a large garden, so we will be looking for other locations to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables. And if at all possible, we will be trying to shop local.
Some supermarkets will have a section of produce specifically for local produce. Many towns have local farmer’s markets set up on the weekends, and some throughout the week, at which you can shop and purchase those local fruits and vegetables. The River Market in Little Rock hosts a nice farmer’s market, and Conway’s Farmer’s Market is located in the parking lot at Antioch Baptist Church off of Interstate 40 near the Conway Commons. Check to see if your town has a local farmer’s market as well.
Central Arkansas is home to numerous orchards and gardens at which you can pick your own fruits and vegetables. Letting your children take part in selecting and picking their fresh foods is a fun and exciting way to teach them about gardening and to hopefully increase the likelihood that picky eaters will expand their diet.
There are so many great farms and orchards in Central Arkansas and beyond. BoBrook Farms in Roland allows families to pick blueberries and blackberries and purchase local honey, jams and vegetables. The Cabot Patch and Mountain High Produce in Cabot have fresh strawberries ready to pick. The Cox Berry Farm in Clarksville has strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches for picking at various times of the summer. Wye Mountain Flowers and Berries in Roland also has blueberries, blackberries and raspberries along with different types of flowers to pick and purchase. Collins Round Mountain Orchard in Conway grows and allows you to pick a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They have changed ownership and the variety may have changed, so be sure to check to see what they are currently offering. Be sure to check with all of these orchards and any others to find out their hours and best times of the season for certain produce.
When going to pick produce, be sure to protect yourself with insect repellent, closed toed shoes, gloves, long sleeves/pants, sunscreen and a hat. Stay hydrated on hotter days to prevent dehydration as well. There are many wonderful reasons to live in this beautiful state, and during the spring and summer seasons, we can take advantage of the wonderful foods grown near our homes.
A native of Conway, Katelin Whiddon is a family nurse practitioner at Central Arkansas Pediatrics. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.