Urbana Farmstead brings sustainable Italian farming tactics to urban dwelling

Merna Delaurentis

Table of Contents ITALIAN ROOTSAll set TO DEVOUR Every single now and then, you come across a small hidden gem that you should really have regarded about currently. That is what happened a few of months back when a close friend invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead […]

Every single now and then, you come across a small hidden gem that you should really have regarded about currently. That is what happened a few of months back when a close friend invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead in the Landmark local community south of Minimal Rock.

Next my GPS to get there, I pulled off the overwhelmed route on to a rather nondescript street. Arriving at 2400 Kerrie Travel, I uncovered a quaint a person-acre farmstead advertising some unique products — in addition to homegrown greens, which you would be expecting at a farm.

Inside of the Farm Stand shop was a prosperity of preserved foodstuff, jams, jellies, chow chow relishes and sauces. Imported risotto, olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegars lined the shelves, and the freezer was whole of meatballs, beef liver and salmon.

A the latest addition was a line of 13 of the owner’s individual seasoning blends, which includes Margie’s Mediterranean Blend, Smokey Spice Salt Rub, and Lemon Rosemary Garlic Sea Salt. Tinctures and tonics, lotions and salves had been also out there.

Margie Raimondo is the brains behind this operation, which has been in its location for just about 4 years. With a strong Italian heritage, Raimondo loves meals and escalating at the very least some of what she eats. Her goal is to live sustainably in as many techniques as achievable, utilizing what she has access to whilst she shares her expertise and enjoy of meals with many others.

Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Gallery: Urbana Farmstead

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She took a to some degree circuitous route to get listed here. Born to 1st-generation Italian Us citizens and raised in California, she grew up in a sheltered, traditional Italian residence. Immediately after relationship, children and a career in the corporate earth, she left that lifetime in 2006 to go to Mountain Household with her loved ones.

They needed a easier lifetime, so they purchased a vacation resort on Lake Norfork.

In addition to managing the vacation resort, she started off educating cooking lessons on the aspect and operated a minor market place that bought olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine.

Seeking to find out much more about compact-scale farming, in her mid-50s she embarked on a Farm Absent apprenticeship plan. In 16 months on farms in Italy and Spain, she traded perform in fields and kitchens for food stuff and lodging. By much the oldest apprentice — and one of only a handful of ladies — she soaked up as considerably expertise as the farmers experienced to give.

A single of the most important lessons she realized all through this time was that food preservation was key to farm daily life in Europe. Her information of foodstuff preservation was restricted, and she believed it generally consisted of jams and jellies. What she realized is that you acquire what you have on hand but are not able to use fresh new, and approach it in some way for foreseeable future use.

The processing could be in the form of chutneys, a mix of diverse fruits and veggies that can be made use of as a condiment or facet dish. Or it could be dried herbs that can be employed in seasonings, poultices or rubs. It could possibly also be accomplished via vinegars, sauces or pickling. Some products will be savory and some are sweet.

In Europe, these preserved foodstuff are also utilized to barter with neighbors for other merchandise a farmer could possibly need to have. Almost nothing is squandered. Sustainability is important.

She introduced what she uncovered back again to Arkansas, landing at Minor Rock and starting up Urbana Farmstead. Immediately after a short cafe stint wherever she used make from her farm in her choices, she determined to concentrate all her efforts on the farm, putting in a large industrial kitchen area shop high tunnels for year-spherical vegetable output raised beds for vegetables, herbs and flowers and a rooster coop with free of charge array chickens — from which she only utilizes the eggs.

She constructed the independent farm retail outlet, and a room off her kitchen area is used for courses and shared Sunday foods, which she hopes to supply month-to-month, submit-pandemic.

Her enthusiasm for sharing her awareness led her to offer you lessons every other Thursday from March via September, and also in November. (She spends October in Italy every single calendar year, traveling to loved ones and locating new merchandise to share and know-how to import.)

Just one Thursday a month is a food items-preservation course, and one Thursday is a cooking class. She teaches two courses on individuals Thursdays, from 1-4 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m. At present she boundaries each course to six individuals. Registration charges $40 for each individual for food preservation and $50 for cooking.

The preservation courses are palms-on, and individuals go household with regardless of what they figured out how to preserve that week (on a current 7 days it was pesto and blistered peppers place up in oil and vinegar). Cooking individuals support in the cooking, and they share a three-system meal and a glass of wine. Pre-registration is essential and information can be observed on her web page, urbanafarmstead.net.

The professional kitchen area at Urbana Farmstead generates organized foodstuff for the farm retail outlet and hosts courses in cooking and preserving herbs and greens. (Unique to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)


Urbana Farmstead is not just about make and preserved meals. Raimondo is a experienced chef and enjoys to cook. Food stuff has always been her satisfied position, and she enjoys to share her abilities with other people.

Every week, she posts organized foodstuff items on her site, and you can purchase and pay out on the web, then drive out and select up your foods.

She would make her individual cheese — all smooth cheeses — with three cow cheeses, one particular goat cheese and even a vegan cheese designed with cashews and almonds.

She orders in 25-35 lbs of contemporary fish weekly. She posts what she has to provide on her web site on Mondays, and you have till 5 p.m. Wednesday to purchase the amount you want. You then select up your clean fish on Saturday early morning. A current buy of corvina (a fish I experienced in no way heard of) was awesome.

Raimondo grew up inadequate but claims she in no way knew it since there was usually loads of food on the desk. Meals was the family’s language of like.

Her time used in Italy each and every year offers her the prospect to make a link to her heritage and to recharge and understand from other people. Lots of of the locations she has visited are tiny, but they use whichever place they have to develop what they require.

She hopes to clearly show others that you really don’t have to have 20 acres of rolling hills to have a farm: You can grow foodstuff in your yard.

Her eyesight for the long run is to reside and operate towards sustainability for her spouse and children and for other people. She wants to educate others how to improve their individual create, maintain what they have and operate with vegetation to make great foods. She hopes many others can understand to take pleasure in the essence of the plant and master how it can be the star on the plate.

Urbana Farmstead is not glitzy and properly manicured, but it is authentic. It is a smaller, functioning farm in the center of an urban area.

Just lately named Pulaski County Farm Loved ones of the 12 months, Raimondo and her Urbana Farmstead have a great deal to supply. Aside from looking at recipes and data on her site, you also can take a look at the farm. It is open up 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The farmstead is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Janet Carson’s weblog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.

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