Sustainable Growing in the Region

I recently returned from the American Folklore Society Conference in New Orleans where I had the opportunity to spend time with, and learn from, numerous other cultural workers from around the world. I also had the chance to speak about the work we’re doing here in central Arkansas and all the amazing stories and people that make up this beautiful place.

I was especially excited to get share information about the work we’re doing via the McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History and Community Action. Despite our name (which can be a bit confusing), we are an organization operating without a building, working in the community to learn more about our community’s oral history and folklife and documenting and supporting living traditions while humbly working toward doing our part (however small) to support a strong and equitable future for all residents. We call our work participatory research because it involves all voices and all stories.

As we wrote about a few week’s ago, one of our first big projects is learning more about the many forms of small-scale, sustainable growing in our community. We’ve partnered with Saira Kahn-Hendrix, an amazing photographer from Russellville to capture images of some these gardens and growers, showcasing how beautiful life can be closer to the land. Today’s column features just a few of the wonderful photos she took of Kristen Simmons (who we spoke about a few weeks ago) and her birds. You can see the whole set online at You can also read Marie Williams’s write up of Kristen’s belief in “meeting your dinner” and learn more about the different breeds.

If you are a gardener or small-scale grower (bees, goats, etc) or know someone who is, we’d love to speak with you. Your skills and knowledge are important and we deeply appreciate what you’re doing.  Thanks so much for reading. You can read past columns online at by clicking on the “The Seed and the Story column.”

See all of Saira’s photos by clicking here.