Bell Urban Farm and the Farmstand, located at 2011 Tyler St. in Conway, AR, is a great place for Conway residents to purchase fresh, local food from local farmers and artisans all across Arkansas.
Starting the farm in 2017 and finally opening the Farmstand in November 2020, the Bell Urban Farm is approaching its first anniversary.
Kim Doughty-McCannon, the owner of Bell Urban Farm and the Farmstand, said, “Our mission with the farm is to keep everything as local as possible. And that kind of expands to the Farmstand, which is our grocery store. So all the produce, the meat, eggs, cheese, everything, comes from Arkansas.”
Doughty-McCannon said they have close to 100 partners all across Arkansas contributing to the Farmstand. Heifer Ranch, a certified organic farm in Perryville, AR, is Bell Urban’s oldest partner. Bell Urban sells a lot of Heifer Ranch’s products because they can grow year-round with various greenhouses.
At Bell Urban, flowers are their “main crop” that they grow themselves in addition to a few microgreens and vegetable plants to sell to customers to take to their own gardens.
The Farmstand also sells Airship Coffee, Tea Berry Kombucha, Loblolly ice cream, among other products. The Farmstand hosts a Loblolly ice cream truck on the last Friday of every month.
They also host “gardening and homesteading related workshops,” such as beekeeping, chicken keeping, gardening and cooking for customers.
The idea for the farm and the store was a combination of Kim and her husband, Zack. “We just saw the need for a local grocery store that sells local produce year-round,” Doughty-McCannon said. “Usually, the farmers markets close this time of year and are closed all winter long. So, we just wanted to give the Conway community access to fresh produce all year, seven days a week.”
Not only does it improve the quality of food in Conway, but it improves the economy. “The more we can rely on local producers, the more money we can spend locally [and] the better [it] is for our local economy,” Doughty-McCannon said.
With the holidays approaching, Doughty-McCannon said, “I would just encourage people to think about buying local gifts for the holidays instead of shopping on Amazon or shopping at Walmart, if you come and shop local, that money's gonna stay and benefit your community.”
Bell Urban Farm employee and UCA student Dylan Romine said, “I’ve already started applying what I’ve learned here to my own garden and my own finances, like trying to support more local businesses.”
The farm uses Romine wherever she may be needed. She not only works the front register of the store, but she also works in the garden to cultivate Bell Urban’s products.
Romine said her job at the farm is good while she is still in school because it has flexible hours. Romine is a graduate student in the biology department at UCA. “My research has a lot to do with how large-scale agriculture impacts our streams, so it’s kind of cool to be a part of this smaller-scale farming operation and demonstrate how we can grow things more sustainably,” Romine said.
Because her research complements Bell Urban Farm’s mission so well, Romine said, “I think that’s why I’m so passionate about working here.”
If students are interested in volunteering on the farm or working in the Farmstand, Doughty-McCannon said, “We need more help in the summer season because that's our busiest growing season on the farm, so that's a good time for college students.”
For more information about Bell Urban Farm, visit their website bellurbanfarm.com or visit their Instagram and Facebook @BellUrbanFarm.