Jennifer Heinley, an accounting major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was out shopping at the Campus Garden with her two sons on during the garden’s first farmstand event in mid-July.
The family was looking for honey, squash, zucchinis, and any other fresh ingredients that might go well with the Instant Pot recipe she was planning to make for dinner. Heinley said it’s important to buy fresh, organic food and often shops at farmers markets for everything she doesn’t grow in her own garden.
“I prefer buying locally sourced food if I can’t grow it myself,” she said, adding that her children enjoy the food, even if they don’t always enjoy the work.
“I like the food, but I don’t like the weeding,” Blake Heinley, 7, agreed.
In the farmstand model, people make donations as they can and then pick whatever they want from the garden. At the garden, which is organic and pesticide-free, students and volunteers grow corn, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, Turkish melons, and herbs, as well as host perennial and annual flower beds, beehives, and rented stalls.
“The donations all go straight back into the garden and helping the community,” Marion Richard, senior biology major and president of the Campus Garden Alliance, said. “I want people to know about the importance of community. We would not have this beautiful garden without all of the people who help us. This garden is a labor of love.”
Toni Boyer-Stewart, web marketer and analyst, took the opportunity to buy some locally grown honey, corn, and pick some fresh flowers straight from the campus garden.
“Nobody knows about the Campus Garden, and people need to realize that we have a wonderful resource for fresh vegetables and locally grown honey right on campus,” Boyer-Stewart said.
More than 100 people attended the two-hour event, where the garden staffers sold out of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and sweet corn.
“We love fresh produce,” said Kisa Bellamy, a nursing major from Little Rock, who was picking collard greens at the campus garden. “For me, it brings it home from what we see in the grocery store to how we actually get the vegetables in our home. I didn’t even know how to pick collards from the ground, so it’s cool that they showed me how.”
Leaders of the Campus Garden are planning to hold farmstand events throughout the rest of the growing season as the crops continue to mature.
“Maintaining the garden takes a lot of work, and it’s all done by faculty, student, and staff volunteers,” said Dr. Stephen Grace, biology professor and faculty advisor of the Campus Garden Alliance. “The Campus Garden is a model urban farm that can promote better health and nutrition for the community by providing locally grown, fresh produce, contribute to the revitalization of underutilized urban land, provide social and economic benefits to the urban community, and improve urban landscapes.”
The next farmstand event will take place from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2.