2019 Pre-conference Field Trips
Thursday, January 24, 2019 • 12:30 – 5:00 p.m.
For those who learn best by seeing other farms, we have five excellent field trips for you to choose from.
Field trip participants will travel on chartered motorcoaches provided by Southern SAWG. No private vehicles permitted. All field trip motorcoaches will depart from outside of the Statehouse Convention Center at 12:30 p.m. sharp! No refunds will be provided to those who miss their ride. The field trip registration fee includes a light snack.
Please be mindful of the potential to spread serious animal and plant pathogens on footwear and clothing. We respectfully ask that you clean farm boots and clothing before climbing aboard to visit these farms.
Space is limited, so register early. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.
Please note that these field trips are being offered at the same time as the mini courses.
Field Trip #1
Growing Organic in a Conventional World—Rattle’s Garden
Host: Tara Stainton
Rattle’s Garden is a small certified organic vegetable, blueberry and cut flower farm owned by Tara and Robert Stainton, located outside of Vilonia, Arkansas. They have been selling vegetables and pastured eggs in the Little Rock area since 2008. In 2017, the Staintons were chosen as the Faulkner County Farm Family of the Year. Tara began the farm as a kitchen garden that quickly turned into a passion for organic farming and ultimately meaningful employment while allowing Tara to stay home and raise the couple’s two young boys. Over the last ten years, Tara has become an outspoken advocate for organic farmers. Through her role as the president of the founding board of directors of a cooperative of sustainable farmers, New South Produce Cooperative, Tara spent three years helping build a business attempting to eliminate obstacles faced by new farmers wishing to grow organic produce. Having recently stepped down from this role to gain balance between work and family life, Tara is now focused on increasing the farm’s flower production, continuing to build community through food in the farm’s Farmshare (100-family CSA) program and being a resource for new organic farmers in Central Arkansas.
This tour of Rattle’s Garden will offer an overview of the farm’s history including challenges faced from the perspective of a self-taught woman farmer attempting to grow organically in an area dominated by conventional farming with two small children at her side. The tour will include a look at the production under way inside four high tunnels and all the activity going on in the propagation greenhouse. The tour will also include the on-site packing shed and the tractors and implements used to cultivate the produce.
Field Trip #2
Sustainable Farming Sustains A Family of Veterans—Barnhill Orchards
Host: Ekko Barnhill
Barnhill Orchards is a family-run operation established in 1980 by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Barnhill and family. Starting from scratch, the Barnhill family cleared the land to plant seedling pecan and peach trees. From there, the land was tilled and the first vegetable plants were put into the soil. Since that time, Barnhill Orchards has expanded to become one of the area's top producing quality vegetable suppliers to local friends, community neighbors, area restaurants, and folks from surrounding towns. Barnhill Orchards is now cultivating 15 acres using sustainable farming techniques. The farm is run and managed by Col. Bob Barnhill, his wife, Carlotta, and his children Ekko and Rex, both veterans as well.
Barnhill Orchards practices sustainable farming techniques, utilizing nature and best practices to raise their produce. The fertile soil in the sandy hills of Lonoke County is perfect for growing farm fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts. All the produce is hand-picked and hand-sorted to ensure only the very best quality produce goes to Barnhill customers.
The tour will focus on fruit and nut production, succession planting, the use of high tunnels, and farm to market and farm to restaurant marketing and distribution.
Field Trip #3
Pastured Poultry, Pork, and Beef—Permaculture in Practice with Farm Girl Meats
Host: Travis Short
“We believe the best-tasting, most nutritious foods are farmed with a light hand. Our animals are bred and raised in the most natural of settings, on wholesome diets, and in tune with their given instincts. We are proud to share our free-range pork, beef, and chicken with discerning eaters of Central Arkansas.”
Farm Girl Meats has been in operation since 2005. Travis Short and his girls have been nurturing both flora and fauna on the current 130-acre property known as Farm Girl Meats since 2015. Farm Girl produces high-quality pork, poultry, beef, and eggs for discerning customers all over Central Arkansas. Short has carefully chosen breeds that thrive in the river valley environment on which the farm is situated. Travis will show tour attendees around the farm and discuss the breeds he’s chosen and the research that went into making those decisions. He will discuss labor-saving methods for caring for livestock, discuss animal husbandry, selecting and working with meat processors, and detail farrowing sows on pasture. Attendees will tour the property and see first-hand how the animals are thriving in their river valley home.
Field Trip #4
What’s All the Buzz? Bemis Bee Farm!
Host: Emily Bemis
Bemis Honey Bee Farm started with five hives and the passion to pollinate their family’s existing commercial tree farm—Bemis Tree Farm. Family owned and operated since 1992, Tracey and Donna Bemis started Bemis Tree Farm with their two sons, Nathan, and Jeremy Bemis (owner of BHBF). Along with operating the tree farm with his family, Jeremy has expanded the business into stump removal, screen printing and embroidery, and honey bee supplies. All three companies are run with the help of friendly and invaluable employees, family members, and friends.
When getting started in beekeeping with his wife, Emily, Jeremy quickly realized that there were no beekeeping suppliers in his area and very little sources for information. Not wanting other new beekeepers to have the same difficult experience in getting started, Jeremy and his wife began selling beekeeping supplies and offering beginner beekeeping classes.
As Bemis Honey Bee Farm’s number of colonies began to grow, so did their business and the demand for more education. Bemis Honey Bee Farm offers a wide variety of beekeeping supplies, as well as informative classes year ’round that range from beginner to queen rearing. The classes are hands on and taught by qualified and experienced instructors.
Tour attendees will learn the history of Bemis Family Farms, visit the tasting room to receive a hands-on experience with extracting honey with a centrifuge, learn the basics of bees and how honey is made. They will also learn about beekeeping equipment and tour the grounds to visit the hives. Attendees will be able to ask the experts questions about how bees can help their own farms. Bemis can help all levels of beekeepers from beginners to well-seasoned honey producers.
Field Trip #5
Work Smarter, Not Harder—Heifer Ranch
Host: Sean Pessarra
Heifer USA has long been a leader in education for small sustainable farming operations. The Ranch is a 1,200-acre beacon of transformational education and sustainable agriculture nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. When you visit Heifer Ranch, you walk onto a Heifer USA project site. The animals in the pastures and produce from our Certified Organic gardens support farmer-owner cooperatives and feed ranch guests in our dining hall.
This tour will travel to Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas, to learn about new tools for small fruit and vegetable producers. Topics covered will include hand tools in the garden, season extension infrastructure, and best practices for managing labor on the farm. There will be time for hands-on demonstrations with garden tools and equipment. The workshop will cover physical hand tools, both powered and unpowered, season extension tools, post-harvest and storage tools and labor management tools.