Believe it or not, NW Arkansas has local food available right now, even though this has been an especially tough winter for local produce farmers. Those with greenhouses or with unheated hoop houses have some produce available before the traditional market season starts, including salad and cooking greens, kale, spinach and more. Varieties of apples which are “good keepers” are ready for you to take home, as well as a very limited supply of onions and potatoes kept carefully from last season. Local beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and both chicken and duck eggs are in good supply right now as well as jams and jellies made with the goodness of the 2013 season. Local cow cheese and goat cheese are also among the offerings as are handmade baked goods.
So, where can you find these wonderful things? After their tent at the Botanical Garden was destroyed by an early December winter storm, the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market was invited by St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville to hold a limited number of markets in their Parish Hall/Welcome Center at the corner of East and Dickson Street.
The local nonprofit Ozark Slow Food joined up with the market to offer two ‘Sneak Peek’ events on Saturday March 15 and Saturday March 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Each market will feature 12-16 of our square market vendors who have products this time of year so be sure to come early to get the best selection,” said Teresa Maurer, Fayetteville Market Vendor Manager.
“We are so grateful to St. Paul’s and Ozark Slow Food for making these two special events possible and we are very happy to announce that vendors will be accepting SNAP/EBT cards and the market manager table will double SNAP purchases up to $20,” added Leann Halsey, Fayetteville Market Business Manager. The free event will also feature information about the upcoming market season and a free copy of the NWA Local Food Guide booklet produced by Ozark Slow Food. If you are looking for recipes, St Paul’s Episcopal Church also offers its Full Plate Cookbook for sale at the Parish Hall/Welcome Center. Parking is most easily reached by turning west mid-block across from the courthouse, just south of Dickson Street. Look for the St Paul’s parking sign and a large red brick building that says Welcome Center — the church address is 224 NE Ave., Fayetteville.
Mark your calendar for several other special events related to the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market: On Saturday April 5 the Downtown Square market opens for the season, with hours from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday markets open on April 8 and April 10 on the square, from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. A Sunday market will begin in early May, with location and hours TBA. For more information on the sneak peek markets, search for Fayetteville Arkansas Farmers Market on Facebook. Information about the market’s regular season will be available on Facebook, at the market’s website fayettevillefarmersmarket.org or by calling 479-236-2910.
Ozark Slow Food also announces a “Hoop-La” fundraiser on Thursday April 10 from 5-7:30 p.m. at The Garden Room at 215 West Dickson Street, Fayetteville AR 72701. The event celebrates year round food harvests by farmers using Hoophouses. The $50 donation for each ticket includes a gourmet sit-down local food dinner, presented by guest chef, Barbara Lindsey. Proceeds will support the local food system through the production of Ozark Slow Food’s Northwest Arkansas Local Food Guide, connecting local farmers and consumers (www.nwalocalfoodguide.org). Seating is limited and tickets should be purchased in advance using Paypal at ozarkslowfood.org