Mar 11, 2012

Laughing Stock Farm

by Josh Hardin

Laughing Stock Farm is a 40 acre diverse fruit, vegetable, and aquaculture farm located about 30 minutes south of Little Rock and seven miles west of Redfield.

I bought the farm in November 2009 then later asked Anna to marry me.  Next month we will celebrate our first anniversary.

Currently I am working towards a degree in Agriculture Education with hopes to teach in a public school one day.  Anna is a clinical dietician with the Veteran's Administration splitting her time between Pine Bluff and North Little Rock.

We also help with my fifth-generation family farm, Hardin Farm near Grady, Arkansas.  My brother is also passionate about local, sustainable food; many people in Arkansas have benefited from Jody's visioneering.

Laughing Stock Farm is focused on producing the highest quality fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and eventually farm raised fish in our seven acre spring fed lake. After two years of clearing sweet gum trees and building soil through cover crops and on-farm composting, we are going to begin a small scale one acre approach to our local markets.  This year is the first market garden for our new farm, but I have been marketing for my dad with Hardin Farm for 15 years in central and southeastern Arkansas.

How and What We Grow
One of my favorite Native American proverbs is "We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."  With that in mind we do not use any synthetic chemicals or fertilizers on our sensitive woodland surrounded farm. Because of this commitment to natural practices, we have recently been approved to become a Certified Naturally Grown farm, pending the upcoming inspection by Kellogg Valley Farm.
compost on the autumn soil
We are committed to using sustainable and french intensive farming methods including raised beds, cover cropping, composting, and natural soil enrichment.  To give us more flexibility to grow early and late crops as well as protect summer and winter plants, we have one hoophouse and are adding a movable hoophouse.

heirloom potatoes
This year we are growing six varieties of fingerling and colored potatoes, several varieties of cabbage, colored carrots, heirloom and hybrid squash, lots of heirloom cherry and grape tomatoes, onions, lettuce, seven varieties of sweet and hot peppers, baby pickling cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, fairytale eggplant, and a few other surprises.

Where can you find our products?
We will be marketing in several places and are always looking for new markets for our growing business. We are at Hillcrest and Argenta on Saturdays from 7:00am-noon beginning in early May. We will also be at the South Main Market at The Bernice Garden, though the dates there have not been finalized yet.  You can find us at on-line locally grown markets in Little Rock and Conway.

chicken tractor
We also co-market and participate in our fifth-generation family farm, Hardin Farms in Grady, Arkansas. You can find our farm products throughout the season at our family store just east of Little Rock on hwy 165 in Scott along with the fruits and vegetables and prepared and canned goods from Hardin Farms. We are currently helping my father develop a better marketing and crop plan to satisfy the demand for chemical free and sustainably produced food.

We are resisting the GMO foods and fighting to keep some diversity in a very monocrop environment surrounded by thousands of acres of conventional row crops. This has made the tough decision to accept some of these crops as the only option. As mid scale producers, these are the most vulnerable farms around, and they need support like the small scale folks do, and sometimes they need our help even more to be convinced that it is a good idea to move in this direction.

Consumer demand = Biggest Force In The Universe!  Like Michael Pollan says, we all  "vote three times a day with our fork."

Anna and I look forward to serving and growing with all of you. At Laughing Stock we feel like farming is not just our livelihood, food is our passion and reason for living so your support to do what we love most is much appreciated. Happy (upcoming) Spring and see you all at the market.  By then, Anna will be sporting a "baby bump" as we are expecting our first child in September.
Josh & Anna Hardin
Laughing Stock Farm

Also in this series: Rattle's GardenTammy Sue's CrittersFalling Sky FarmWillow Springs Market GardenNorth Pulaski Farms, Oak Meadows, and Farm Girl Natural Foods.  If you would like to showcase your farm, email Julie: luvmyhub AT gmail DOT com

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