All Abloom: Urban Gardens Growing in the Metro
If you’re looking to earn your green thumb and grow the garden of your dreams, then Metro Little Rock is the perfect place to plant roots. Arkansas is a great state for gardening, with a wide range of flowers, plants and vegetables that grow well. The metro area is home to a strong gardening community and residents that take pride in their greenery.
“I’ve been gardening for as long as I can remember,” said Kim Booth, a Little Rock resident and master gardener. “Growing up my parents instilled in me and my siblings a deep respect for nature and the role we should play in her care. Over the years, I have developed a profound love of the traditional garden. I grow roses, hydrangeas and azaleas, as well as hostas, ferns and boxwood."
► Spring: Cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, onions and carrots
► Summer: Collards, snap beans, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, winter squash
► Fall: Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, tulips, trees and shrubs
► Winter: Tulips, crocus and daffodils (outside); rosemary, thyme and sage (inside)
Sources: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Baptist Health blog, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Only in Arkansas blog
The climate and soil quality must be perfect for growing certain crops, and Little Rock’s natural resources are more than ideal. The area mainly falls within Zone 8 on the Plant Hardiness Map, which helps determine what plants will survive in certain regions of the country. Central Arkansas experiences mild winters and temperate summers with cooler nights and a long growing season. This combination creates the perfect environment for certain plants to thrive. Most of the soil in the area has some clay in it. However, with proper drainage, it can be used to create a sustainable garden.
“Arkansas has a great climate for growing a variety of plants and vegetables,” Booth said. “Our spring and fall are pleasant, with summers hot enough to grow great vegetables.
The soil variety and conditions in Arkansas are broad. It is important to have your soil tested to determine the type of soil you have and its nutritional needs to grow the best plants.”
The metro area is home to many different plant nurseries and garden centers that are great resources for both beginner and seasoned gardeners. These places sell greenery and supplies and have experts who are more than willing to help customers. Some offer classes and host events to garner public interest and inspire locals. Many local garden centers offer landscaping services as well.
“You do not have to become a master gardener to take on the hobby of gardening, just dig in," Booth said. "The gardening community has always reflected a driving energy to teach and co-create and develop lasting friendships.”
Urban and community gardens have become quite popular in Metro Little Rock. Urban gardening is the process of growing plants in unconventional environments. This form of gardening reduces the carbon footprint of the food system and is great for homes with limited space.
Community gardens are a branch of urban gardening. Little Rock has more than 20, and they are tilled by groups of people. These unique gardens encourage community development, beautify neighborhoods, preserve green space and serve as a great way to learn from other gardeners.
“In gardening, the benefits and possibilities are infinite!” Booth said. “It feeds the creative process, strengthens the body and nurtures the soul. The joy alone in seeing a garden respond and evolve under your touch and care provides a deep connection between self and nature. It is a great teacher of patience and discipline. A place of solace, where there is no hatred, prejudice or judgement.”
Sources: Gardening Know How, Good Earth Garden Center, The Gardening Dad, Agritecture
Metro residents love to shop and eat local, which is why our farmers market scene is so spectacular. People flock to the mix of markets across the area for organic, locally grown produce and goods. We love to support our Arkansas farmers!
Little Rock Farmers Market
Downtown | 501.375.2552
Located in the open-air pavilions in the River Market, the Little Rock Farmers Market hosts an array of vendors who sell fresh produce, locally prepared foods and handmade crafts.
Me & McGee Market
North Little Rock | 501.355.6222
What started as a family garden soon blossomed into Me & McGee, a charming, family-owned farmers market that has been featured by KARK, Arkansas Tourism, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and AY Magazine.
Downtown Conway Farmers Market
Conway | 501.590.8592
This farmers market in the heart of downtown Conway has knowledgeable vendors who sell staples such as local honey, greens, handmade arts and crafts.