Category: Uncategorized

It’s A Good Day To Have A Good Day!

From the splendors of spring through the holiday season, I love welcoming guests into my home and gardens. As I have said many times, I love to share the farm with all of you because keeping Moss Mountain Farm to myself wouldn’t be near as fun!

Some of the kindest and most genuine folks visit the farm, and it makes me so happy to receive messages with kind words from them regarding their experience! It is not only encouraging to myself and the staff, but I hope you find a little encouragement in the following words as well!

Thanks again to everyone who has visited or plans to in the future! You can find tickets here!

-Just a short note to let you know how much we enjoyed our tour at the farm last Friday.  My niece seemed to have a wonderful time and appreciated the special attention with the gluten free crackers. Please tell Ellen how much fun we had. Maybe another trip in the future.

Best regards,
Sherry Dale & Lynne


– A group of ladies (and our male driver) from the Murphysboro United Methodist Church visited Moss Mountain Farm on Friday, Nov. 9th. I just wanted to let you and your staff know that we had a splendid day and how much we appreciated your hospitality. You have such a beautiful home, barn, gardens, structures, animals, etc., and you are kind enough to share that beauty with the world!

Since I’m a 4-H Leader in Illinois, I very much appreciated how much time you took in answering my question about your involvement in the 4-H Program in Arkansas (and how you caught your first chicken). Teaching our youth important life skills has been a priority in my life for the past 20 years. Several years ago, I started an Apple Pie Workshop for youth, and now they have created a new youth division with a cash prize in the Apple Pie Contest at the annual Murphysboro Apple Festival. We hope to continue this tradition for years to come. I’d love to bring our 4-H club members to visit Moss Mountain Farm!!!

The lunch was divine, and the Buttermilk Pecan Pie was scrumptious – coming from one pie snob to another. Several on our church bus purchased your cookbook and enjoyed reading the recipes and stories about the recipes on our trip back home. Well, you might think our trip would end with good conversation and laughs about our trip. However, on the way home, one of the ladies suggested that we have a P. Allen Smith Dinner Party (after we have had time to try some of the delicious recipes, of course). We will all make and bring a couple of our favorite dishes from your cookbook to share with each other.

Thank you again for your genuine hospitality for a fabulous day at Moss Mountain Farm!

Rosie


– I just want to say how impressed we were with the whole experience of the tour, grounds and especially the staff! We got lost on our way there. We got a call asking if we were lost and did we need help!! 5 min. later we arrived! Even the rain did not dampen how much we enjoyed the gardens, lunch, chickens and houses.   The lunch was delicious and well done. Ellen was our guide. She charming, knowledgeable and personable.  I bought a book in the gift shop then hurried back to the tent for Allen’s signature. We enjoyed having a personal visit with him! Then left with better directions this time. A short time later we received a call from Diane saying I had left my credit card in the gift shop. She asked where we were and told me it was on her way!! She brought the card to us!!! We are very grateful for her extra effort and felt it was way beyond normal !!! We are totally impressed with our wonderful day!
Thank you!

Jerri

Ralston Family Farms Rice Contest

I don’t know about you, but I like to know exactly where my food comes from. I could go on and on about all the reasons I love Ralston Family Farms rice, but you wouldn’t understand until you try one of their delicious farm-to-fork rice varieties for yourself!

Head over to my Instagram to enter to win a Ralston Family Farms prize package including 3 of my favorite rice varieties and a rice cooker to make meal prep a breeze!
Enter HERE! 

Decking The Halls With Holly Chapple

Every year I pick a Christmas decorating theme, drawing inspiration from everyday items or materials from the garden. This year’s theme is completely nature inspired, and I am thrilled that Holly Chapple is bringing the ‘Holly’ to Moss Mountain Farm! If you have never been to Moss Mountain Farm during the holiday season, this is the year to make the trip! I can’t wait to collaborate with Holly and I know the decor will be more spectacular than ever!

 

“Decorating for the holidays is one of my absolute favorite times to design. Perhaps being born on Christmas Eve has something to do with my love of seasonal decor. It’s also why my parents named me Holly. So it looks like we have a date with a horse named Trudy, a chicken temple, a gingerbread house and a fabulous designer, landscape architect, author and tv personality named P. Allen Smith!” – Holly Chapple

A longtime resident of Loudoun County Virginia, Holly is a highly recognized and sought after floral designer whose work has been published in countless prestigious publications and top industry blogs. With over 25 years of successful business experience behind her, Holly now serves as a teacher, speaker and mentor for other professionals in the wedding industry. She currently sits on a trend report board with industry leaders, owns and operates Hope Flower Farm.

 

 

**Holly will NOT be present at 2018 holiday tours, but her designs will be on display for guests to enjoy.

 

 

 

2018 Arkansas Cornbread Festival Preview

Executive Pastry Chef at Cathead’s Diner, Kelli Marks, and I had the pleasure of spending a little time with Ansley Watson to talk about The Arkansas Cornbread Festival on Good Afternoon Arkansas yesterday! I am sure you can guess without watching what the video below is about… it’s cornbread!

The Arkansas Cornbread Festival is this Saturday, October 27, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Little Rock on S. Main Street in SoMa. It’s a free event for all ages, however a Cornbread Tasting Ticket is $8 before the festival and $10 at the festival. This allows you to taste all the cornbread within the competition.

For more information on the event you can visit the KATV website or the official Arkansas Cornbread Festival website!


Video courtesy of KATV Little Rock.

Top Five Must See List for Arkansas This Fall

It’s impossible not to love fall in Arkansas. After the summer heat dissipates, we’re rewarded with pleasant weather and a changing of the leaves that’s not to be missed. Fall is one of my favorite times of year to get out and explore the great destinations Arkansas has to offer. Here are 5 of my favorite things to do around The Natural State this fall.

1. Arkansas Cornbread Festival – Who wouldn’t travel to sample the best cornbread in the state? I know I would! Luckily for me, SoMa Little Rock is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the farm! I look forward to this event every year and bonding with the community over cornbread… it’s a southern tradition! This year, the festival happens on Saturday, October 27 from 11a-4p.

Photos courtesy of https://www.arkansascornbreadfestival.com/

2. Crystal Bridges Museum – Crystal Bridges will make my list any time of year! It’s such an inspiring place, celebrating American art and culture. This fall, experience works of art by important Native American artists from the 1950s to today, enriching our understanding of American art.

3. Mount Magazine Scenic Byway – There’s nothing like hitting the open road just to enjoy the scenery. This 28-mile drive stretches between Havana, Arkansas and Paris, Arkansas. On this beautiful trek, you will experience Mount Magazine, which is the highest peak in Arkansas at 2,753 feet. When the trees are showing off their gorgeous fall foliage, the views of the mountains, valleys, and waterways just can’t be beat!

4. Johnny Cash Heritage Festival – Dyess, the boyhood home of Johnny Cash, will host their annual 3-day festival honoring the Arkansas legend and the programs that shaped his childhood. The event includes regional music, public presentations, food and craft vendors, demonstrations, and tours. This year’s closing concert, from noon to 5p.m. on Saturday October 20, will include a tribute to the 1968 Johnny Cash Homecoming Show. Hosted by producer/performer John Carter Cash, the performance will feature award-winning singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson and Grammy record-holder Alison Krauss, along with Ana Cristina Cash, Suzanne Cox, Heather Berry Mabe, Ira Dean, and others.

5. Battle of Prairie Grove Reenactment – This December, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park will commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove, fought on December 7, 1862. This battle saw about 22,000 soldiers fighting most of the day, with about 2,700 killed, wounded, or missing. During the weekend there will be many activities to take part in, including tours through the Union, Confederate, and civilian camps, along with living history programs.

If none of these events sparks your interest, there is much more to experience this fall in The Natural State. To explore other travel destinations in Arkansas, visit www.arkansas.com.

 

Experience Moss Mountain Farm

When guests visit Moss Mountain Farm, it is more than just looking at flowers and gardens, it is an experience where you become completely immersed. Moss Mountain Farm is an epicenter for promoting the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds, while serving as a place of inspiration, education, and conservation.

\

Of course, what I love more than sharing my home with folks from all over the globe are the stories you all share with me during your visit. One of my favorite stories from this spring was of a family who found their way to Moss Mountain Farm from Mississippi thanks to their adorable 8 month old son. Their son would awaken each morning at 5:00, and the parents would turn on the television to try and wake up as well. Garden Home is shown in the early hours of the morning, and that’s how the parents became inspired by P. Allen Smith. This day, they were among 63 guests who came from 17 states to visit the farm.

I am also appreciative of those who trek through the rain and sludge. This is a group of 84 guests from 18 states enjoying a rainy day at Moss Mountain Farm.

One of my favorite events at Moss Mountain Farm takes place in the fall and spring, when flocks of poultry enthusiasts gather at the farm to learn more about conservation of heritage breed poultry.

Each day at Moss Mountain Farm is different, and I love seeing guests participate in the variety of activities we have planned throughout the spring and fall. One of my favorite tours recently was a “make it and take it” class, where the tour attendees were able to paint their own flower pots to bring home with them.

 

Lets look at a few stats for 2018 so far:

2122 guests visited from
38 states and Canada

634 eggs used in
203 Buttermilk Pecan pies and
200 dozen of Aunt Jamie’s Cookies
and Infinite memories made!

To learn more about our upcoming tour dates and to reserve your spot, click HERE!

 

Flock Around The Clock

If you’re raising chickens or think you might add birds to your backyard in the near future, Chicken Chat at Moss Mountain Farm is for you. It’s ideal for everyone from small-scale chicken farmers to novices wanting a pet bird.

Event attendees will learn from P. Allen Smith about his heritage breed poultry and the importance of preserving these rare breeds. He’ll be on site answering all of your burning questions and sharing his long-standing love for chickens.

Best of all, you can meet Allen and tour the grounds of Moss Mountain Farm and his garden home, which is the staging area for his Garden Home and Garden Style television shows. He will take you to Poultryville, and you will see how he feeds, nurtures, and protects his own flock of heritage breeds.  Dr. Keith Bramwell will also be in attendance this day, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge on heritage breed poultry.

Lunch will be provided. You could even purchase chickens to take home and add to your flock! Chicken Chat is kind of a big deal, so reserve your spot today before they’re gone!

Click here for more info!

Eating Animals

A conversation has swept the nation regarding the implications of Big Tech in our daily lives with multiple powerful pieces appearing in the press. But what about an issue that is potentially bigger, and even more personal, that affects all of us? What about our modern industrial food complex and the confluence of government, academia, lobbying organizations and the implications of those relationships for our health, children, food access, animal welfare, and farming community? A dialogue surrounding these issues arose in the early 2000s with several exposés and analysis by major US publications.

However, that was 18 years ago. What has happened since then?

An important film by Christopher Quinn, narrated by Natalie Portman, and based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer of the same name—Eating Animals—brings us up to date, answers that question and introduces us to developments that affect the liberties of each American. Originally shown in the Fall of 2017 at the Telluride Film Festival, Mr. Quinn’s film has found wider distribution with the support of concerned philanthropists, notably from the EJF Philanthropies. This August, P. Allen Smith partnered with EJF Philanthropies to host a private screening and panel discussion for Arkansas thought leaders in Little Rock. This screening is part of a multi-city tour to encourage dialogue among citizen, business, and elected leaders to address food and health safety, animal welfare, and environmental hazards.

Arkansas has a rich agrarian community and passion for supporting local and small farmers. Eating Animals takes a deep dive of topics critical to our health and provides insight into the decisions facing our citizenry at the local, state and national levels. It is a must-see for anyone who cares about food security, environmental safety and business and government ethics. It is also a must-see for concerned consumers who want to understand the connection between the decisions they make at the grocery store and the health of their communities.

For over 18 years, P. Allen Smith has worked to support small farmers, local producers, and responsible farming practices through his national—and now international—television shows. In 2015, Mr. Smith profiled the leadership example of late philanthropist Dorrance Hamilton and her Swiss Village Farm mammalian preservation project in Newport, Rhode Island (now conserved by the Smithsonian Institute). Regrettably, avian genetics are much more fragile and cannot be reliably preserved using cryogenic technology.

That is where the efforts of Mr. Smith and the hero poultry farmer of Eating Animals, Frank Reese, come into critical prominence. They are part of a very small group of Americans who are independently safeguarding the genetics of robust, healthy Heritage birds. These are the birds that were originally bred to survive outdoor conditions and to feed our growing nation. Sadly, these same birds have been neglected by much of academia, industry, and government in favor of fast-growing, inexpensive genetics, as profiled in Eating Animals.

Beyond animal welfare, Mr. Smith’s 2015 TEDx talk in LIttle Rock highlights the vulnerable position society can place itself in when relying upon too narrow a range of fragile genetics and too great an emphasis on any one food source. The Irish potato famine is a perfect example of the danger of over-relying on any one food and is often cited as an important illustration of this concept.

Complicating our position today, however, as Mr. Smith explained in his TEDx discussion, is the appeal of meat in the diet of ascending India and China, and the robustly expanding middle class of both countries. Modern Indian and Chinese are increasingly consuming American protein products—frequently with poultry as the preferred source. The difference between the Irish Potato famine of 1845 and today, as many have observed, is scale and ability to adapt. In 1845, blight affliction caused massive crop failure of the leaves and tubers of the potato plant in Ireland, preceding unimaginable misery for an entire nation and over 1 million deaths. In 2018, in our highly standardized world, narrow ranges of poultry genetics serve the protein needs of world populations in far excess of 1 billion, with those populations highly clustered in large cities rather than rural communities. Our ability to quickly adapt carefully engineered food delivery systems with alternative protein and food sources is in question. With recent compromises in egg and poultry production in the United States, and with increasing appreciation of the precarious state of our current food delivery model, many are asking: what is our backup?

It is notable that private charities are leading the way in answering this important question. The efforts of Mr. Smith and Mr. Reese specifically help preserve strains of living genetics that may be critically needed by future generations. Both Mr. Reese and Mr. Smith have started 501(c)3 non-profits to maintain their programs. Mr. Reese is partnering with the MASS Design Group to develop a center at his Kansas farm—Good Shepherd Institute— to help educate the public and teach a new generation of farmers the almost-lost art of Heritage Poultry farming.

For over a decade, Mr. Smith’s Heritage Poultry Conservancy has improved and maintained the genetics of endangered heritage breeds. Smith has also invested in encouraging youth involvement in poultry science and believes progress on this issue is best accomplished by inspiring local and national leadership and encouraging the next generation to take up the cause. His outreach efforts have inspired youth to pursue academic careers in poultry science and contribute to the field.

To date, no food industry participant has been involved with the financing or support of either gentleman’s preservation programs. And in 2017, the University of Arkansas eliminated its Heritage Poultry facility, removing an important resource for students to learn and interact with genetic diversity offered by Heritage breeds.

 

Christopher Quinn (Director of Eating Animals), Caitlyn Taylor (Architect, MASS Design Group), P. Allen Smith and Simone Friedman (Philanthropist, EJF Philanthropies) and Guest at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, AR.  The group of panelists gathered after dinner in the Foyer of the Capital Hotel.


Caitlyn Taylor, Frank Reese, and Allen Smith walk to Mr. Smith’s Heritage Poultry Conservancy at Moss Mountain Farm.

Caitlyn Taylor, P. Allen Smith and Frank Reese pause at Moss Mountain Farm’s poultry gallery space.  The three reviewed the rare heritage genetics maintained at Moss Mountain Farm.  Mr. Reese and Mr. Smith safeguard satellite genetics of endangered flocks.

Allen explains his conservation program to Caitlyn and Frank.

Allen and Frank inspect young Narragansett and Bronze Turkey.

Allen holds a Silvery Grey Dorking, Frank holds a White Faced Black Spanish.

Christopher Quinn and P. Allen Smith at Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm, outside Little Rock, AR.

Caitlyn Taylor, Allen Smith, and Frank Reese pausing for a moment prior to making lunch at Moss Mountain Farm.

Smith preparing a family recipe pimento-grilled-cheese sandwich to accompany a cool summer tomato soup.

Caitlyn helps Smith prepare lunch.

Caitlyn, Frank, Allen, and Allen’s Scottish Terrier ‘Miss Chatty’ relax after lunch enjoying a refreshing breeze on the front porch of Moss Mountain Farm.

Rodney Thomason (CEO, Medical Assets Holding Group), P. Allen Smith and Ayasha Thomason at the Capital Hotel Reception of Eating Animals.

Simone Friedman, P. Allen Smith, Frank Reese, and Christopher Quinn share their insights during a panel discussion following the reception for Eating Animals at the Capital Hotel.

P. Allen Smith, Tim and Robin Ralston (owners of Ralston Family Farms rice), and Frank Reese at the Capital Hotel Reception.

 

For More Information, please see:

Eating Animals, a film by Michael Quinn:
http://www.eatinganimalsmovie.com/

EJF Philanthropies:
http://ejfphilanthropies.org/

MASS Design Group:
https://massdesigngroup.org/

Frank’s Reese’s Good Shepherd Institute Project:
https://www.thegoodshepherdinstitute.org/

Frank Reese’s Good Shepherd Ranch:
http://goodshepherdpoultryranch.com/

P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm Foundation:
http://www.mossmountainfarm.org/

Heritage Poultry Conservancy:
http://heritagepoultry.org 

P. Allen Smith’s 2015 TEDx Genetic Diversity, End of Choice:
https://youtu.be/yCsGFNHHIQw

P. Allen Smith’s profile on The Swiss Village Farm Foundation (and the problem with avian genetics):
https://youtu.be/jeqh94paXkw

SVF, Swiss Village Farm Foundation:
https://www.svffoundation.org/

Seed Bombs Away

Move over bath bombs, the new trend in earthy, self-indulgence is the seed bomb. Often called guerrilla gardening, seed bombs are made for areas where you’d like to add color but can’t easily cultivate because of fences or other blockages. These bombs would be best employed — or deployed — in the neglected flower beds and street planters of your community. You could also attack a forgotten section of your neighborhood with one, but you didn’t hear that from us.

The idea is to pack an array of seeds into a ball with all the things they’d need to get started on their journey. The casing of clay will protect the seeds from birds and insects. It also soaks up rain and dew, allowing the seeds to germinate and prepare for their transformation into seedlings. The compost gives them the nutrients they need to grow. Seed bombs work best when “planted”  — tossed somewhere casually — in early spring or fall, so the April showers can help them do their work.

They’re perfect for your newbie gardeners, as it gives them a sense of accomplishment and might even encourage them to progress to the next level of gardening. Creating seed bombs is simple and easy. And if you’ve ever made truffles or cake balls, this may feel eerily similar.

 

How to Make Seed Bombs

3 parts of natural clay; can be found at art stores

5 parts compost

1 part wildflower seeds – you can use a pre-made wildflower seed mix

water 

Start with 1 handful of seeds. Add the 5 parts of compost and mix well.

Add the 3 parts of clay and mix thoroughly.

Add small amounts of water, mix until consistency is similar to biscuit dough.

Grab a chunk, and roll in your hand until round and smooth, and truffle sized. Air dry in a warm dry place; preferably overnight. Once dry they can be stored for a few weeks in a cool, dark place.

 

The Story of Ralston Family Farms

For Tim and Robin Ralston, farming is in their blood. Even before the Ralston ancestors settled in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s, they were farming in their homeland of Scotland, while Robin’s side of the family has been farming in Arkansas since the 1830s. Today, they sustainably grow, harvest, mill, and package traditional and aromatic rice on their 5,000-acre family farm in Central Arkansas.

A farm, of course, is more than just planting, growing, and harvesting. It’s business too, and for the Ralstons, family is at the core. “We all have our strengths, and it’s rewarding, from a parent’s perspective, to see those skills come together when we’re brainstorming and working on implementing those plans. Everyone is secure and grounded in what they do and we all get along exceptionally well,” says Robin Ralston, the matriarch of the family. She and her husband Tim are at the head of the family business.

Their adult children and their spouses are all heavily involved in the business as well. Tim and their son Matthew each have a background in agriculture and oversee the farming business. Along with Matthew’s wife Brittani, they handle all aspects of farming, from the farm’s crop production to working with Duck’s Unlimited on their environmental stewardship program that the Ralstons were asked to participate in.

Their daughter Jennifer has a degree in design and uses her talents by managing the Ralstons’ social media accounts, in addition to her other responsibilities. She also is the office manager. Jennifer’s husband Willie is the Mill Quality Control Manager and a “perfect fit for this job,” says Robin.

Their daughter Ashley and Robin work together on all outside and Internet sales. Tim and Robin’s grandchildren are involved with the farm and the mill as well. “We are all passionate about the business, the product, and giving back,” Robin says.

“We are committed to donating a percentage of our rice to charities and food banks,” Robin says. They’re currently working with Feeding America and Feed Communities, based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Ashley, who has a Master’s degree in liberal arts and a background in education, is spearheading those efforts. She also is working on an outreach program to educate schools and other organizations about the family’s rice mill and agriculture.

You won’t be hard pressed to find plenty of family rice farmers, especially in Arkansas, which leads the nation in rice production. What sets the Ralston Family Farms apart, though, is the varieties that they grow. The Ralstons currently grow over six varieties of rice, including traditional and aromatics, such as basmati, jasmine, and beautiful purple rice.

They also offer a one-of-a-kind variety called “Nature’s Blend.” It is naturally pollinated out in the field and includes varieties of aromatic purple, red, and traditional brown
rice. Since this is naturally pollinated and not blended by hand, no one else has this variety. “We have had so much interest in this blend and couldn’t be more excited about it,” says Robin.

“We’re unique in that all the rice is grown in the same place where the mill is located. From the field it’s grown in, to the bin the rice is stored in, it’s all in one place,” Robin says.

The Ralstons’ rice is sustainably grown with irrigation from surface water out of the Arkansas River. Ralston Family Farms also is certified by the Non-GMO Project and are certified Gluten Free and Kosher (STAR-K).

That commitment to sustainability is what led the Ralstons and P. Allen Smith to form a partnership this past year. “I’ve always admired the Ralston family’s authenticity and commitment to sustainability, so our partnership is a natural fit. I am excited to continue working with them as they grow and deliver a great product that is produced in such an earth-friendly way and gives back to those in need,” says P. Allen Smith.

“Allen has been so supportive, and he’s passionate about the rice, our family, and Arkansas. That’s what endeared him even more to us. Thanks to Allen, we’ve met a lot of wonderful people and have had some amazing opportunities,” Robin says.

One of those opportunities is Ralston Family Farms’ partnership with Ben E. Keith Foods, a broadline foodservice distributor. The company is taking steps to provide their customers with local, fresh, sustainable food throughout their five-state reach in the mid-South region. “Ben E. Keith Foods is thrilled to partner with Ralston Family Farms to help tell their story and promote their rice to meet the demand for locally sourced ingredients,” says Yvette Parker, director of marketing for Ben E. Keith Foods.

Now that the mill is finished, the Ralstons are looking forward to more of these kinds of opportunities that will add even more value and longevity to their farming operations for future generations. They are also in the process of expanding their team, which will help create local jobs. Between donations to help feed food insecure Arkansans and the outreach programs, the Ralstons are hopeful that they can make a positive impact in their community and throughout the state.

If you are interested in purchasing Ralston Family Farms Rice, select varieties will be available beginning April 2018 at the following WalMart locations (check with store locations for availability):

BARTLETT, TN

BASTROP, LA

BATESVILLE, AR

BENTON, AR

BOONEVILLE, AR

BRANSON, MO

BYRAM, MS

CABOT, AR

CANTON, MS

CENTERTON, AR

CLEVELAND, MS

COVINGTON, TN

CULLMAN, AL

DYERSBURG, TN

FARMINGTON, AR

FAYETTEVILLE, AR

FLORENCE, AL

FLOWOOD, MS

FORT SMITH, AR

GREENBRIER, AR

GREENVILLE, MS

HARRISON, AR

HUNTSVILLE, AL

JACKSON, TN

JONESBORO, AR

LITTLE ROCK, AR

MALVERN, AR

MEMPHIS,  TN

MERIDIAN, MS

MILLINGTON, TN

MUSCLE SHOALS /SHEFFIELD, AL

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR

PEA RIDGE, AR

PEARL, MS

POPLAR BLUFF, MO

RIDGELAND, MS

ROGERS, AR

RUSSELLVILLE, AR

RUSTON, LA

SAVANNAH, TN

SPRINGDALE, AR

TEXARKANA, TX

TUPELO, MS

WEST PLAINS, MO