links Community Nutrition Education Services
 
Community Nutrition Education Services Inc.
“Small Family Farm Project”
Installment #1

The idea for this project was sparked in 2008 after I became involved in various agricultural focused sustainability projects in California. Included among these were a fellowship (rocfund.org); Registered Dietitian volunteer efforts with Los Angeles area Farmers Markets, and working as an actual gardener in 2 Los Angeles community- based gardens.  My experiences with farming in Arkansas are basically childhood memories of working with my family (grandparents and parents) who grew fruits and vegetables and raised chicken, pigs and dairy cows for milk. The challenge is to see if any success in cultivating/producing agricultural products can be made of the Farm Project with much assistance from family/community members in Arkansas and beyond.

During the time period of 2008-2012, improvements were made to the property by the resident Arkansas family members. These included planting fruit trees (peaches, apples, plums, and grapes), pecan trees, and weeping willow trees.   A fish pond was dug and stocked with catfish. All of this produce/fish were considered to be native to the area. We considered these as appropriate start up activities prior to my returning to the state.

The move from California to Arkansas became official in mid April 2013.


April –August 2013-Overview of the farm.

The condition of the land; access to the property; potable water source
  • The state of Arkansas had experienced a 2 year drought period (late 2010-early 2012).  Without the availability of water through natural rainfall, only 1 of the 2 peach trees had survived and 2 of the apple trees were barely alive. The pond was filled with water from the heavy rains in early 2013 and the fish were still alive. The lessened rainfall after the state’s tornado season (April-May 2013) did result in lowered water level in the pond (see contrasting photos).
  • The farm is located on what is basically prairie land. The photos that follow show the status of the land with many well established trees (wild plums*, common persimmons), wildflowers, and berries (Black Eyed Susan, Daffodils, honey suckle, blackberry and dewberry vines were among those that I could identify). There are trees over 100 years old; one of these is a nut bearing (Black Walnut).  *These wild plumb trees were not noticed until overgrown brush and bushes were cleared in late August.
  • Wild animals inhabit the property including deer, turkeys, ducks, armadillos, rabbits, and pelicans. The animals seemed very used to occupying the land (humans have not lived on the property for more than 20 years). The animals moved away so fast, it was impossible to capture the photos. The plan for a new residence on the property is set to be completed during 2014. This may prove to be a very challenging goal.
Trees on East side of property
Tree at entry to farm on South side of property
Prarie laqnd on property
Fish pond April 2013 on West side of property
Fish pond August 2013
Entrance from main road
Black Walnut Tree 100 Years
Berries in bloom
Another 100 year old tree


  • The access road to the property is approximately 1/2 mile from the main road running through the community. It was in poor condition filling up with pockets of water along the road allowing only access to those driving trucks. A neighboring farm family member was identified and hired to establish an improved access road. Please see photos of the equipment used and the ‘’ before’’ and ‘‘after’’ photos of the road.
Road building equipment
Access road (before)
Access Road (under construction)
Access Road (after)

  • The identification of a contractor to drill a well to deliver potable water was a little more difficult. To find a ‘’ well digger’’ required an exhaustive internet search with the final contractor being located more than 30 miles away. Unfortunately, I failed to have a camera shot of the heavy duty equipment utilized. There is a photo of the similar heavy duty equipment from a web photo. The photo has 4 pieces of equipment; in actuality, we only used 1 well digging machine. The photo is used to display the equipment so as to show the scope of the overall process.  Once the water was accessible, the major effort became the location of accessories required to retrieve the water including the pulley system and the supporting iron frame. These items were found via the internet from a vendor located in the neighboring state of Missouri. There is a photo of the completed well that is now fully operational.
Example of water drilling rigs
Basic well water system
Final well water system