Urbana Farmstead brings sustainable Italian farming techniques to urban living

Every now and then, you occur across a minor hidden gem that you ought to have acknowledged about currently. That is what occurred a couple of months back when a buddy invited me to a birthday celebration at Urbana Farmstead in the Landmark group south of Small Rock.

Subsequent my GPS to get there, I pulled off the beaten route on to a quite nondescript highway. Arriving at 2400 Kerrie Travel, I identified a quaint just one-acre farmstead advertising some exceptional goods — in addition to homegrown vegetables, which you would be expecting at a farm.

Inside the Farm Stand shop was a prosperity of preserved foods, jams, jellies, chow chow relishes and sauces. Imported risotto, olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegars lined the shelves, and the freezer was entire of meatballs, beef liver and salmon.

A current addition was a line of 13 of the owner’s very own seasoning blends, which include Margie’s Mediterranean Blend, Smokey Spice Salt Rub, and Lemon Rosemary Garlic Sea Salt. Tinctures and tonics, lotions and salves were also accessible.

Margie Raimondo is the brains driving this operation, which has been in its place for nearly four decades. With a powerful Italian heritage, Raimondo loves foodstuff and escalating at least some of what she eats. Her goal is to reside sustainably in as a lot of techniques as probable, applying what she has obtain to even though she shares her expertise and adore of foods with many others.

Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Gallery: Urbana Farmstead

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She took a somewhat circuitous route to get right here. Born to initially-generation Italian Us citizens and raised in California, she grew up in a sheltered, common Italian domestic. Right after relationship, children and a career in the company earth, she remaining that lifestyle in 2006 to shift to Mountain House with her family.

They preferred a less difficult daily life, so they purchased a resort on Lake Norfork.

In addition to functioning the resort, she started educating cooking lessons on the facet and operated a very little current market that bought olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine.

Wanting to study extra about small-scale farming, in her mid-50s she embarked on a Farm Away apprenticeship program. In 16 months on farms in Italy and Spain, she traded perform in fields and kitchens for foods and lodging. By considerably the oldest apprentice — and just one of only a handful of ladies — she soaked up as considerably expertise as the farmers had to offer you.

1 of the most vital lessons she realized through this time was that meals preservation was key to farm lifestyle in Europe. Her understanding of foods preservation was limited, and she assumed it mostly consisted of jams and jellies. What she figured out is that you just take what you have on hand but can not use fresh new, and method it in some way for upcoming use.

The processing could be in the form of chutneys, a mix of diverse fruits and vegetables that can be employed as a condiment or side dish. Or it could be dried herbs that can be applied in seasonings, poultices or rubs. It may possibly also be attained via vinegars, sauces or pickling. Some objects will be savory and some are sweet.

In Europe, these preserved food items are also used to barter with neighbors for other objects a farmer may want. Absolutely nothing is squandered. Sustainability is critical.

She brought what she realized again to Arkansas, landing at Minimal Rock and setting up Urbana Farmstead. Following a transient restaurant stint the place she employed generate from her farm in her offerings, she decided to focus all her attempts on the farm, placing in a enormous industrial kitchen store high tunnels for calendar year-round vegetable manufacturing lifted beds for veggies, herbs and flowers and a chicken coop with cost-free variety chickens — from which she only works by using the eggs.

She designed the individual farm retail outlet, and a room off her kitchen area is utilised for courses and shared Sunday foods, which she hopes to give regular monthly, publish-pandemic.

Her enthusiasm for sharing her awareness led her to supply lessons every single other Thursday from March by means of September, and also in November. (She spends Oct in Italy every 12 months, traveling to loved ones and acquiring new solutions to share and know-how to import.)

A single Thursday a thirty day period is a meals-preservation course, and just one Thursday is a cooking course. She teaches two classes on these Thursdays, from 1-4 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m. Presently she restrictions just about every course to six people today. Registration fees $40 for each human being for food items preservation and $50 for cooking.

The preservation classes are arms-on, and participants go residence with what ever they learned how to protect that 7 days (on a the latest week it was pesto and blistered peppers put up in oil and vinegar). Cooking participants assistance in the cooking, and they share a 3-system meal and a glass of wine. Pre-registration is expected and information can be observed on her website, urbanafarmstead.internet.

The professional kitchen at Urbana Farmstead produces prepared foods for the farm store and hosts classes in cooking and preserving herbs and vegetables. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

The expert kitchen at Urbana Farmstead provides prepared food items for the farm shop and hosts lessons in cooking and preserving herbs and greens. (Particular to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)


Urbana Farmstead is not just about create and preserved foodstuff. Raimondo is a trained chef and loves to cook. Foodstuff has normally been her pleased area, and she loves to share her skills with other individuals.

Every single week, she posts organized food merchandise on her internet site, and you can purchase and shell out on the net, then generate out and decide up your meals.

She can make her individual cheese — all smooth cheeses — with a few cow cheeses, one particular goat cheese and even a vegan cheese designed with cashews and almonds.

She orders in 25-35 lbs . of fresh fish weekly. She posts what she has to give on her web site on Mondays, and you have till 5 p.m. Wednesday to purchase the amount you want. You then select up your new fish on Saturday morning. A the latest invest in of corvina (a fish I had never ever listened to of) was amazing.

Raimondo grew up poor but states she under no circumstances knew it since there was usually a great deal of foods on the table. Foods was the family’s language of appreciate.

Her time expended in Italy each individual year offers her the option to make a link to her heritage and to recharge and learn from many others. Quite a few of the destinations she has frequented are modest, but they use what ever space they have to grow what they require.

She hopes to present many others that you do not have to have 20 acres of rolling hills to have a farm: You can grow food in your yard.

Her eyesight for the long term is to reside and function towards sustainability for her loved ones and for others. She would like to educate other people how to develop their individual create, protect what they have and get the job done with plants to make marvelous meals. She hopes other people can master to value the essence of the plant and learn how it can be the star on the plate.

Urbana Farmstead is not glitzy and beautifully manicured, but it is true. It is a little, working farm in the center of an city space.

Just lately named Pulaski County Farm Family of the Year, Raimondo and her Urbana Farmstead have a ton to supply. In addition to looking through recipes and data on her site, you also can take a look at 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 website is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.