wave of the future farmers

posted October 19, 2009

The Glynwood Center has announced their 2009 Harvest Award Winners.  Check out the greenhorns they’ve chosen:

The Glynwood Wave of the Future Harvest Award
Cody Hopkins/Andrea Todt, Co-creators, Falling Sky Farm, Marshall, AR

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It is ironic that in the center of a small rural state, fresh, local and organic food is hard to find. A state with few large population centers and lots of countryside, Arkansas presents a big challenge to small farmers in marketing their products – where do you go to sell and how do you get there economically? It was in this context that in 2007 first generation farmers Cody Hopkins and Andrea Todt created Falling Sky Farm, located 100 miles north of Little Rock, in the heart of the Ozarks. Combining a desire to farm and live sustainably with their internet savvy, Cody and Andrea visualized a new way to farm and market.

Falling Sky Farm uses livestock management techniques including “holistic pulse grazing” to maximize productivity, meat quality, and the land’s ability to sequester carbon, while decreasing non-renewable resource consumption. All of the farm’s products are marketed within 150 miles, with the additional goal of marketing at least 25 per cent of its products within 50 miles.

Cody and Andrea have been instrumental in developing a successful model of marketing and distribution that helps other farmers within Arkansas. In May 2008 Cody created Conway Locally Grown, an online marketing system for farm fresh products that in just a year’s time grew to include over 200 members and 25 farmers. Cody has since consulted with three other communities to successfully implement the Locally Grown program. He continues to consult and spread the word about the effectiveness of online marketing tools at conferences and other speaking engagements.

Cody and Andrea also coordinate pick up and delivery of products from neighbor farmers and a baker to sell at markets up to 100 miles away, making every trip as efficient and effective as possible while partnering with other producers to co-ship their products. These partner links also allow for sharing of valuable ideas, information, techniques and equipment.

Cody is also one of three founding farmers for the year-round Village Community Market in Hot Springs Village. A unique and innovative Farmers Market, it utilizing a three pronged approach for merchandising: a weekly Friday afternoon traditional outdoor market; an indoor market open four days a week; and the Village Locally Grown Online market system. To increase the larger community’s access to local food, Conway Locally Grown now donates 20 percent of its $25 membership fees and a percentage of each week’s total sales to the food pantry operated by St. Peters Episcopal Church in Conway. The church then uses this money to purchase fresh, locally-produced food from Conway Locally Grown for distribution through the food pantry.