Typically, “farm-to-table” is a phrase one would encounter while exploring the local restaurant scene, however, this post will employ the phrase to look at some of the new and interesting ways Northwest Arkansas residents can support and participate in the local agriculture and food economy.
While the Farm School is relatively new and focused on adults, Apple Seeds, Inc. has been focused on inspiring the younger generations through garden-based education since 2007. Through a local teaching farm and partnerships with more than 60 local schools and like-minded agencies, Apple Seeds reaches youth with programs that educate and excite young students about healthy food and increase students’ access to those healthy foods. In 2021, Apple Seeds reached 15,382 students with educational outreach programs that reconnect students with where their food comes from.
Get Involved: Apple Seeds’ flagship dinner fundraiser, Evening at the Farm, will return this year on Saturday, October 8th. The all-star chef lineup and ticket release will be announced later this month.
One of Northwest Arkansas’ primary medical providers for underserved and uninsured populations, Community Clinic, recently partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Food Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on helping the region become a national model for locally grown food, to pilot a program that prescribes and distributes low-cost, locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables weekly to patients across the region. For local patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, access to nutritious foods has been shown to have a significant positive impact on health outcomes. In addition, the model generates a unique revenue stream for the small farmers participating in the program.
Since launching, the Community Clinic has expanded its distribution to around 200 bags a week at eight locations across the region. The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this partnership as part of its Northwest Arkansas Food Systems initiative, learn more about the initiative here.
Setting the Table
Alas, we arrive at the table, and since we are using the singular “table” as opposed to “tables”—of which there are many across Northwest Arkansas that have embraced the farm-to-table movement—let us bring your attention to a chef’s table that has us brimming with excitement.
A new concept by Chef Matt Cooper, Conifer, is expected to open in Bentonville this summer. Conifer will be a 100% gluten-free restaurant and focus on relationships between local Northwest Arkansas farmers and the community. The menu has been developed with an emphasis on highlighting ingredients sourced from local and regional farms. In addition, the restaurant will include a self-serve farm stand featuring local produce.