Urbana Farmstead brings sustainable Italian farming methods to urban residing

Each and every now and then, you occur across a small concealed gem that you should have acknowledged about already. That is what occurred a few of months ago when a mate invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead in the Landmark group south of Little Rock.

Following my GPS to get there, I pulled off the beaten path onto a pretty nondescript highway. Arriving at 2400 Kerrie Push, I observed a quaint a person-acre farmstead promoting some one of a kind objects — in addition to homegrown greens, which you would count on at a farm.

Within the Farm Stand store was a wealth of preserved food items, jams, jellies, chow chow relishes and sauces. Imported risotto, olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegars lined the cabinets, and the freezer was complete of meatballs, beef liver and salmon.

A the latest addition was a line of 13 of the owner’s very own seasoning blends, such as Margie’s Mediterranean Blend, Smokey Spice Salt Rub, and Lemon Rosemary Garlic Sea Salt. Tinctures and tonics, lotions and salves ended up also offered.

Margie Raimondo is the brains powering this procedure, which has been in its place for virtually 4 many years. With a powerful Italian heritage, Raimondo enjoys food and rising at the very least some of what she eats. Her goal is to are living sustainably in as lots of strategies as probable, utilizing what she has access to although she shares her information and appreciate of foodstuff with many others.

Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Gallery: Urbana Farmstead

[Photos not showing? Click here to view: arkansasonline.com/821farm]


She took a fairly circuitous route to get below. Born to initial-technology Italian People in america and elevated in California, she grew up in a sheltered, traditional Italian domestic. Following relationship, children and a job in the corporate environment, she still left that everyday living in 2006 to transfer to Mountain Property with her family.

They preferred a less complicated everyday living, so they acquired a resort on Lake Norfork.

In addition to managing the vacation resort, she begun educating cooking classes on the aspect and operated a tiny market place that sold olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine.

Wanting to find out much more about little-scale farming, in her mid-50s she embarked on a Farm Away apprenticeship method. In 16 months on farms in Italy and Spain, she traded perform in fields and kitchens for food and lodging. By significantly the oldest apprentice — and 1 of only a handful of women — she soaked up as a lot know-how as the farmers had to provide.

A single of the most vital lessons she realized throughout this time was that food preservation was key to farm existence in Europe. Her awareness of foods preservation was limited, and she imagined it primarily consisted of jams and jellies. What she figured out is that you just take what you have on hand but can’t use fresh, and system it in some way for potential use.

The processing could be in the sort of chutneys, a combination of different fruits and greens that can be utilised as a condiment or facet dish. Or it could be dried herbs that can be utilized in seasonings, poultices or rubs. It may possibly also be achieved through vinegars, sauces or pickling. Some items will be savory and some are sweet.

In Europe, these preserved meals are also employed to barter with neighbors for other products a farmer may require. Practically nothing is wasted. Sustainability is vital.

She brought what she uncovered back to Arkansas, landing at Minor Rock and starting off Urbana Farmstead. Soon after a quick restaurant stint wherever she utilised create from her farm in her choices, she determined to concentrate all her attempts on the farm, putting in a huge industrial kitchen shop large tunnels for calendar year-spherical vegetable output elevated beds for veggies, herbs and flowers and a chicken coop with cost-free array chickens — from which she only utilizes the eggs.

She constructed the independent farm retail outlet, and a area off her kitchen is utilised for classes and shared Sunday meals, which she hopes to give regular monthly, put up-pandemic.

Her enthusiasm for sharing her awareness led her to provide classes each and every other Thursday from March by way of September, and also in November. (She spends Oct in Italy each year, browsing family members and locating new goods to share and expertise to import.)

A person Thursday a month is a food items-preservation class, and a person Thursday is a cooking course. She teaches two classes on all those Thursdays, from 1-4 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m. Currently she restrictions every single course to 6 folks. Registration charges $40 for every human being for foods preservation and $50 for cooking.

The preservation classes are hands-on, and contributors go home with whichever they discovered how to preserve that week (on a new 7 days it was pesto and blistered peppers put up in oil and vinegar). Cooking participants aid in the cooking, and they share a 3-system food and a glass of wine. Pre-registration is demanded and data can be found on her website, urbanafarmstead.net.

The skilled kitchen area at Urbana Farmstead produces organized foodstuff for the farm keep and hosts courses in cooking and preserving herbs and vegetables. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)


Urbana Farmstead is not just about develop and preserved meals. Raimondo is a trained chef and enjoys to prepare dinner. Food has constantly been her happy position, and she loves to share her talents with other folks.

Every 7 days, she posts organized food merchandise on her web site, and you can buy and pay on line, then drive out and select up your foods.

She makes her personal cheese — all soft cheeses — with three cow cheeses, one goat cheese and even a vegan cheese made with cashews and almonds.

She orders in 25-35 lbs of new fish weekly. She posts what she has to provide on her site on Mondays, and you have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to order the volume you want. You then decide up your clean fish on Saturday morning. A current order of corvina (a fish I had in no way heard of) was remarkable.

Raimondo grew up inadequate but claims she by no means realized it for the reason that there was often a good deal of food items on the desk. Foods was the family’s language of really like.

Her time expended in Italy every single 12 months provides her the prospect to make a relationship to her heritage and to recharge and learn from many others. Many of the locations she has frequented are little, but they use whichever place they have to mature what they require.

She hopes to present many others that you really don’t have to have 20 acres of rolling hills to have a farm: You can increase foodstuff in your backyard.

Her vision for the foreseeable future is to reside and function towards sustainability for her family and for some others. She needs to train other people how to improve their personal deliver, preserve what they have and do the job with crops to make wonderful foods. She hopes some others can learn to recognize the essence of the plant and understand how it can be the star on the plate.

Urbana Farmstead is not glitzy and flawlessly manicured, but it is serious. It is a smaller, doing the job farm in the center of an city area.

Not long ago named Pulaski County Farm Household of the Year, Raimondo and her Urbana Farmstead have a large amount to offer you. Aside from studying recipes and information on her web page, you also can check out the farm. It is open 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 web site is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.

Theresa D. Begay

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