Department of Agriculture

Supporting Arkansas farmers and ranchers while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of Arkansas, the nation, and across the globe

Local Conversations

2020 Local Conversations

Local Conversations help connect Arkansas farmers and producers with the buying community

Farmers and producers looking to expand their business attended the Local Conversations hosted by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and Woodruff County Extension on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at the Three County Fairgrounds in McCrory, Arkansas.

The event was opened with introductory remarks from Wes Fairchild, Three County Fair Board members, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward, and Dr. Amanda Perez, Extension.

A local foods program panel provided information on the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act; Arkansas Grown, Arkansas Made, and Homegrown by Heroes; Share Grounds project; Produce Safety Trainings, and Arkansas Market Maker. Speakers included Sarah Lane and Karen Reynolds from the Department, and Angela Gardener, Julia Fryer, and Ron Rainey from Extension.

Local Conversations featured a buyer’s panel including representatives from the McCrory Farmers Market, Me and McGee Market, Green Corner Store, and the Searcy Special School District Child Nutrition Department. The panel shared insight and expertise on purchasing locally grown food and locally processed products.

A farm to school workshop followed with a tour of the Share Grounds certified commercial kitchen facility. Share Grounds is a partnership between Extension, the USDA Local Food Promotion Program, and regional partners in Cleveland, Searcy, and Woodruff counties. The Share Grounds project offers an innovative approach to bring solutions to rural communities by utilizing existing facilities and infrastructure at county fairgrounds.

The event concluded with lunch sponsored by Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

AGCAST by Arkansas Farm Bureau

"This week, we talk to representatives of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture about the recent Local Conversations event in McCrory, and we catch up with two new inductees into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame."

2019 Local Conversations  Hermitage

Specialty crop focused event increases market opportunity for local growers

According to a study by the Food Institute, consumers are willing to spend 20 percent more for locally produced fruits and vegetables. Also, the Arkansas Local Food Farms and Jobs Act of 2017 mandated state institutions to spend 20 percent of their food budget on Arkansas products.

Farmers looking to diversify their business and break into new markets, attended Local Conversations hosted by the  Arkansas Agriculture Department, Thursday, January 17 in Hermitage.

The meeting involved discussion on several parts of the produce supply chain from growers to  nutrition directors and food distributors like Ben E. Keith and AWG.

There were 72 people in attendance representing 16 counties of Arkansas.