Urbana Farmstead brings sustainable Italian farming methods to urban residing

Every now and then, you occur throughout a small concealed gem that you need to have acknowledged about already. That is what transpired a couple of months in the past when a friend invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead in the Landmark local community south of Minor Rock.

Next my GPS to get there, I pulled off the overwhelmed route on to a quite nondescript street. Arriving at 2400 Kerrie Push, I identified a quaint one particular-acre farmstead marketing some unique goods — in addition to homegrown veggies, which you would count on at a farm.

Inside the Farm Stand shop was a wealth 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 full of meatballs, beef liver and salmon.

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

Margie Raimondo is the brains guiding this procedure, which has been in its locale for practically four a long time. With a sturdy Italian heritage, Raimondo enjoys meals and escalating at the very least some of what she eats. Her intention is to live sustainably in as several means as probable, making use of what she has accessibility to though she shares her knowledge and like of food stuff with many others.

Her enthusiasm is contagious.



Gallery: Urbana Farmstead

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ITALIAN ROOTS

She took a somewhat circuitous route to get in this article. Born to 1st-technology Italian Us citizens and elevated in California, she grew up in a sheltered, conventional Italian house. Just after marriage, little ones and a career in the corporate entire world, she still left that everyday living in 2006 to shift to Mountain Household with her loved ones.

They preferred a simpler daily life, so they bought a vacation resort on Lake Norfork.

In addition to jogging the vacation resort, she started out educating cooking classes on the aspect and operated a tiny market place that offered olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine.

Seeking to find out far more about modest-scale farming, in her mid-50s she embarked on a Farm Absent apprenticeship application. In 16 months on farms in Italy and Spain, she traded get the job done in fields and kitchens for meals and lodging. By considerably the oldest apprentice — and a single of only a handful of women of all ages — she soaked up as considerably know-how as the farmers had to offer you.

1 of the most crucial lessons she learned during this time was that food preservation was important to farm everyday living in Europe. Her expertise of food stuff preservation was restricted, and she considered it mostly consisted of jams and jellies. What she uncovered is that you consider what you have on hand but can’t use new, and approach it in some way for future use.

The processing could be in the sort of chutneys, a blend of various fruits and veggies that can be used as a condiment or facet dish. Or it could be dried herbs that can be used in seasonings, poultices or rubs. It may also be completed by 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 things a farmer could need. Nothing is squandered. Sustainability is significant.

She brought what she realized back again to Arkansas, landing at Little Rock and starting off Urbana Farmstead. Immediately after a quick cafe stint exactly where she used deliver from her farm in her choices, she decided to concentrate all her attempts on the farm, putting in a big industrial kitchen shop higher tunnels for calendar year-spherical vegetable generation elevated beds for veggies, herbs and flowers and a rooster coop with free variety chickens — from which she only uses the eggs.

She built the individual farm retail store, and a home off her kitchen area is applied for lessons and shared Sunday meals, which she hopes to present regular monthly, put up-pandemic.

Her enthusiasm for sharing her expertise led her to present lessons each other Thursday from March by September, and also in November. (She spends Oct in Italy every single yr, checking out relatives and finding new merchandise to share and knowledge to import.)

One Thursday a thirty day period is a foods-preservation course, and just one Thursday is a cooking course. She teaches two lessons on those people Thursdays, from 1-4 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m. Currently she restrictions each individual class to 6 persons. Registration charges $40 for every individual for meals preservation and $50 for cooking.

The preservation courses are palms-on, and participants go household with no matter what they uncovered how to preserve that week (on a latest 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-class meal and a glass of wine. Pre-registration is needed and information and facts can be located on her web site, urbanafarmstead.internet.

The skilled kitchen at Urbana Farmstead provides ready foodstuff for the farm retail outlet and hosts lessons in cooking and preserving herbs and vegetables. (Unique to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Prepared TO DEVOUR

Urbana Farmstead is not just about develop and preserved foods. Raimondo is a educated chef and enjoys to cook dinner. Foodstuff has usually been her joyful location, and she loves to share her talents with some others.

Each individual week, she posts well prepared food stuff merchandise on her site, and you can get and spend on the net, then generate out and select up your food items.

She can make her own cheese — all soft cheeses — with 3 cow cheeses, one goat cheese and even a vegan cheese produced with cashews and almonds.

She orders in 25-35 kilos of new fish weekly. She posts what she has to offer you on her web-site on Mondays, and you have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to get the amount of money you want. You then choose up your new fish on Saturday early morning. A modern acquire of corvina (a fish I experienced by no means heard of) was wonderful.

Raimondo grew up very poor but suggests she never ever realized it since there was often a lot of meals on the desk. Food stuff was the family’s language of appreciate.

Her time put in in Italy just about every year gives her the option to make a connection to her heritage and to recharge and master from other individuals. Numerous of the sites she has visited are tiny, but they use regardless of what house they have to improve what they have to have.

She hopes to clearly show other folks that you really don’t have to have 20 acres of rolling hills to have a farm: You can improve food stuff in your backyard.

Her eyesight for the potential is to live and function towards sustainability for her family members and for others. She would like to instruct other individuals how to expand their very own generate, maintain what they have and get the job done with vegetation to make marvelous meals. She hopes others can find out to appreciate the essence of the plant and learn how it can be the star on the plate.

Urbana Farmstead is not glitzy and flawlessly manicured, but it is actual. It is a tiny, operating farm in the middle of an urban location.

Not too long ago named Pulaski County Farm Household of the 12 months, Raimondo and her Urbana Farmstead have a great deal to offer you. Other than looking at recipes and data on her site, you also can go to the farm. It is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The farmstead is shut on Sunday and Monday.

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

Traci J. Lewis

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