PRAIRIE GROVE -- The first goal of Pick & Peck Farm, located west of Prairie Grove off Bob Kidd Road, is to serve the community with fresh produce, eggs, plant starts and other products.
The second goal is to have a way to provide the items through other resources.
"Once we harvest, we have to be able to get rid of it," said Amy Hutcherson, who owns the farm along with her husband, Matt, and father, Tom Waller.
Their 23-year-old son, Caleb Hutcherson, also helps and has his own hobby and business on the farm as a beekeeper with about 50 hives right now.
Matt and Amy Hutcherson started a garden in 2017 for her father after her parents moved from central Arkansas to Prairie Grove.
"He always had a garden," Amy said.
Full-time, the Hutchersons work as a real estate team for Lindsey & Associates. Amy also owned a small business in Farmington for several years.
"I began looking at it (the garden) from the business side and I saw the potential for growing," Amy said.
She saw a post on a community Facebook page for Prairie Grove about a farmer's market and realized that was a need Pick & Peck could help meet.
"Farmers' markets are a huge trend right now," Amy said.
As she continued to look at how the garden could grow as a business, one need was a name and then another need was a marketing tool.
Amy came up with the name as they were picking vegetables out of the garden.
"We pick and then we have chickens that peck. I thought it was perfect," she said.
Her husband and dad built a large wooden cart to display wares and now, she said people at the Prairie Grove Farmer's Market know the farm because of its trademark cart.
Expanding The Farm
Tom Waller has two acres and his land backs up to Bob Kidd Lake, with a large hill in between. The farm takes up about about one-half acre of Waller's land.
In about three years years, the family has added more garden plots, a large fenced-in area for the chickens with a chicken coop, flower garden for fresh cut flowers, herb garden and a greenhouse.
The first year, plant starts were used to grow the garden. Now, everything starts from seed and that all takes place in the greenhouse.
"We grow from seeds and (in) 14 days it's ready to be planted in the garden or can be sold as a plant start," Amy said, adding, "My dad had the knowledge (for a garden) but we've all learned a lot about urban farm techniques. Every season we've learned and gained so much."
This year, Pick & Peck Farms has multiple vegetables in its gardens, including carrots, beets, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers (on a trellis), 200 plants of peppers and 250 plants of tomatoes.
One of the gardens is an Indian garden with corn, beans and squash.
Herbs include thyme and basil. A sunflower garden is growing along the back fence.
Waller feeds the chickens and gathers the eggs. For the month of May, he gathered 863 eggs.
"It started out as a backyard garden and this is the end result," Waller said, looking over his backyard. "The selling is just a bonus, if you have more than you can eat or put up. It's a lot of garden but it has good results and it helps a lot of people."
Of course, Waller said, he's not surprised the garden has grown into a farm because he knows his daughter, Amy. One of her mottoes: "Go big or go home."
Caleb Hutcherson's beekeeping business, C's Bees, is set up along the back area of the land but bees can be seen buzzing around the gardens. They're so active during the day that the family has taken to working in the gardens after 7 p.m., when the bees have gone to sleep in their hives.
Caleb's apiary has outgrown his space and some women in Farmington are allowing him to open a new apiary on their three acres of land. He plans to move about 25 beehives to the Farmington location.
Along with his bees, Caleb is starting real estate school and is a full-time student at the University of Arkansas.
Pick & Peck has grown its business through a Facebook page with 1,000 likes so far and is getting ready to launch a website where customers will be able to order online and the products will be shipped.
The farm provides a curbside business where customers can place orders and come by and pick up their purchases. In some cases, Amy said she leaves the purchase on the front porch for those who want contactless service because of covid-19 concerns.
Amy estimates 50% of this part of the business is from the farmer's market and 50% curbside.
The farm also provides fresh produce, plant starts, eggs and herbs to Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville. She said she was there with products the first day it opened in its new location.
Restaurants and boutiques have reached out to Pick & Peck for other products made by the family and sold in jars: pure honey from Caleb's beehives, vanilla, salsa, strawberry jam and the favorite, candied jalapenos.
For the vanilla, Amy said she orders vanilla beans from Madagascar. The beans have to sit and process for five months. She said her first batch sold out instantly. She increased her second order of beans. This vanilla will be ready in October.
For the candied jalapenos, "I can't make them fast enough," she said.
One plan for growth is on hold because of the covid-19 pandemic. Amy Hutcherson had reached out in early February to the University of Arkansas' food and service division to discuss the commercialization of the farm's products.
Other ideas for the future include the possibility of workshops or events to help people learn about farming, taking fresh produce to schools and Prairie Grove Senior Activity and Wellness Center and a "Farm to Table" event.
Amy said being a part of the Prairie Grove community has helped their farm business and she wants to help the community in return by providing fresh natural produce grown without chemicals and eggs that come from chickens that have free range.
"This has been awesome and Prairie Grove has been amazing," Amy said.