May Skill Share: Building Basic Rain Barrel Systems

May Skill Share photoWhat: Community Skill Share on Building Basic Rain Barrel Systems

When: Saturday May 21st 12:00-2:00

Where: McElroy House 420 S. 2nd Dardanelle, Arkansas

Contact: 479-957-0551 or

Click here for fb event. 


The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources invites you to join us for a workshop on building basic rain barrel systems for your home or business!

Sergio Picado of Dover will lead this interactive skill share on building and installing simple rain barrel systems in your home or business! He will build and install our system at the McElroy House while explaining the process and walking participants through each step. You’ll leave with tools needed to implement similar systems at your home.

The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources offers one skill share a month led by community members and visitors. All events are free and open to the public!  Keep up to date with us on facebook by clicking here. 

For more information call 479-957-0551


April Skill Share: Butterfly and Bee Gardening for Grief and Healing

first bloomWhat: Community Skill Share on planting butterfly and bee loving story gardens

When: Saturday April 30th 12:00-2:00

Where: McElroy House 420 S. 2nd Dardanelle, Arkansas

Contact: 479-957-0551 or


The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources invites you to join us for a workshop on creating butterfly and bee loving gardens.

During this event we will be planting heirloom flowers and native varieties known for attracting pollinators. We’ll learn more about what kind of varieties we need to support butterfly populations and keep our crops healthy, and we’ll also be putting in some drip hoses for watering. Gardens are places for both grief and healing. Let’s share stories and grow a garden together!

McElroy House volunteers getting our raised beds ready.

McElroy House volunteers getting our raised beds ready.

All of our workshops are interactive, and for this workshop we are asking community members to consider bringing “story” plants to the gathering—the kind passed down among generations and communities and/or any varieties that are especially meaningful to you. Together we will add these plants to our butterfly story garden. If you are willing to share, we would love to document the story behind your plant and keep it with our garden so we can share it with the wider community. Your plant could be something in honor of a lost loved one, a past home, or even a plant in honor of an idea.

Of course, no need to bring a plant to attend! Just bring yourself! You’ll leave with information and resources for creating a butterfly garden at your own home or business.


McElroy House members and volunteers getting city compost for the garden.

McElroy House members and volunteers getting city compost for the garden.

Follow McElroy House on fb at www/

Donation Boxes for the Diaper Bank!

Donation boxes created by Anola Franks!

Donation boxes created by Anola Franks!

Last year our most well attended skill share was the cloth diaper workshop. We were able to pass on over fifty cloth diapers to new caregivers in the region.

Anola Randles Frank has taken the lead on this amazing initiative, and has help to grow the diaper bank idea in recent months. She created donation boxes, a form to keep track of the diaper donations and placement (and to ensure everyone is covered legally) and has set up donation spots around the community.

As Anola pointed out in her presentation and worksheets (which you can download for free here!), so many families have to choose between diapers and food. Cloth diapers can save families hundreds of dollars and are better for the environment. But they come with a great deal of upfront costs. Our diaper bank mitigates those costs and ensures that diapers are passed down in our community to people who need them.

Our diaper bank will be free and accessible to caregivers in the region and after filling out the application to keep track of our donations, caregivers will be allowed to keep the diapers as long as needed. Once returned we’ll disinfect them and mend them if needed! As we beginning offering office hours at our center, caregivers can come borrow diapers and we’ll offer regular skill sharing workshops on using cloth diapers a few times a year.

Meeting at the ARVAC foodbank for a cloth diaper skill share

Meeting at the ARVAC foodbank for a cloth diaper skill share

There are currently donation boxes located at Health Food Garden, Mulberry BushCrisis Pregnancy Center,  and Southern Gypsy store.  We’ll also be working to get some donation boxes set up in other communities. If you’d like to donate diapers or money toward diapers, please let us know! We could also use people who would be willing to help mend diapers.


You can contact Anola Frank at 479-926-6946, or send us an email to:


Our caregiver cabinet with baby carriers, cloth diapers, maternity clothes and more!

Our caregiver cabinet with baby carriers, cloth diapers, maternity clothes and more!




Join the Second Annual Harvest Run to Support Our Work!

11721445_10101821313125897_115215034_nOur second annual Harvest Run will take place December 5th and scenic Bona Dea Trail in Russellville, Arkansas. This year’s run will also feature a Kids Fun Run!  This is our major fundraising event, and all proceeds go toward supporting our community work. Sign up here!



You have lots of options for support! You can do the walk/run, you  can become a sponsor (our Feed a Runner Sponsor starts at 10.00!), or, if you live far away or are busy that day you can do a virtual run! However you want to do it, your donations support our work! 

Our goals are broad, but our strategies concrete. We seek to bring people together across differences to stand for beloved community. Our resources focus on low-income communities and center anti-racism in all we do, especially in reaching out to fellow white people to fight for the rights of all.

This takes on many forms and we seek to always listen to what people in the community say they/we need. We also strive to build partnerships in both rural and urban communities in our region, creating spaces both literal and metaphorical that bring people together for justice and growth.

Here’s a short list of what you’d be supporting:

  • Monthly Skill Shares on everything from permaculture to cooking from scratch on a budget (using local grandma recipes!), to weatherizing old homes on a tight budget (we’ll be using our space as a working example).
  • The expanding of our local cloth diaper bank and other related resources for caregivers.
  • The creation of a tool lending library and other garden resources for beginning growers.
  • The creation of our community flower gardens for spaces of grief and growth.
  • Community-led workshops and discussions on immigration and supporting recent immigrants in our communities, fighting racism, exploring souring incarceration rates and discussions with Seeds of Liberation about ways we can reduce rates; growing partnerships with organization across rural and urban central Arkansas to bring people together across difference to fight for change in low-income communities.
  • Last year our run was a huge success and allowed us to really get going. Here are just a few samples of what your donations funded last year:

Once a Month Skill Shares Around the Community:


A Series of Living Room Conversations and actions on fighting racism and coming together across difference to build Beloved Community and a partnership with the Other Arkansas campaign. 

The Creation of  Resource Banks and Community Teaching Tools on site: 


Helping to Build the Freedom House Garden and Related Curriculum in Partnership with Residents 

Preparing our Community Hub for Our Own Gardens:

Ashes and Growth: Planting Ceremony at Freedom House


A resident agreed to share the writing on her paper before burning the paper and burying it in the soil.

This past Monday residents planted at Freedom House created a ceremony and planted the beginnings of the grief and healing garden. (If you’d like to know more about this project, go here or here). Please note that due to confidentiality agreements we can not show identities of the people in these photos.

The Seeds of Change garden at Freedom House will serve as both a literal and metraphorical space for growth and healing through food and flowers. All of the plants came from regional gardeners and were chosen for their health benefits, ease of care, and ability to draw butterflies to the garden space.

Mixing in the compost

Mixing in the compost

We began the workshop by filling the second garden bed and mixing in compost and talking about soil health. We also talked about how compost is made of dead matter. Yet when the leaves begin to break down and decay the soil itself is in a process of growth and actually provides life to plants.

We talked a little bit about each of the plants in the garden and where they came from and passed out a garden manual that details the care needed for all the plants. Residents chose words they wanted to write on piece of paper (some were stories, others a few phrases), and then they set fire to them, letting the ashes fall into the soil. On top of the ashes each resident planted a herb or flower that they picked out from either the seedlings they’d started or from one of the many donations we’ve received from area gardeners.

Words going up in flames, adding ashes to the soil.

Words going up in flames, adding ashes to the soil.

Some residents chose to share what they had written and others decided kept the words private. They spoke of difficult pasts–abuses suffered and mistakes made–and the desire for a new future. Three women decided to work together and burned their papers in the same place, letting the ashes fall together before putting a large yarrow plant on top. Yarrow is known for its resilience and ability to thrive in all kinds of situations. It also draws butterflies. Other residents chose lavender, a calming plant; oregano, a herb loaded with health benefits, and zinnia, a flower that butterflies love. One of the outpatient residents chose a bright red yarrow, which will add so much color and health to the garden bed.

We gathered around the garden beds as each person burned their pieces of paper. Residents cheered, hugged, and celebrated the new beginnings.  It was a really beautiful and powerful day.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, call Freedom House at 479- 968-7086. Freedom House is a partner of ARVAC. McElroy House is a community partner helping to create and implement this program.




Can You Lend a Plant?: Filling the Beds at the Seeds of Change Garden at Freedom House


Seed starting at Freedom House using recycled newspapers as containers. Freedom House residents created the containers and planted the seeds as part of a larger discussion about how everything that grows starts off very small. All our seeds are heirloom seeds and came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company!

Contact Meredith Martin-Moats at 479-957-0551; 

Or Audra Butler Hankins at ARVAC (479) 229-4861

Click here to download the press release:  Fill the Garden Beds PR 3


We have all the veggies donated!! THANK YOU!

We still need a few herbs and several bags of soil or donated dirt! Can you help us fill the beds?

We’re entering the last stage of our partnership with ARVAC’s Freedom House and getting ready to get all the plants in the ground! On Tuesday May 12th from 9:00-11:00 we’ll work with residents of Freedom House to host a two hour workshop where the residents will put everything in the garden and we’ll pass on the project to the staff and residents.  The garden includes an herb and vegetable area as well as a grief and healing garden featuring butterfly attracting flowers. Freedom House is a CARF accredited center offering comprehensive substance abuse and dependency treatment with a focuses on holistic healing. Learn more about this partnership here.

Mike, the talented maintenance man at Freedom House, crafted two cedar beds from locally hewn wood for the garden project. He’s also been working on designing beds from donated pallets from the food bank!  And Arlene Tucker George of Dardanelle made a generous donation of soil in honor of her late grandson, Alexander, which will help fill the beds. The residents started flower seeds for the beds and McElroy House has also started seeds for the butterfly garden.

As part of this May 12th event, we’ll be working with Freedom House residents and staff to engage in some interactive ceremonies that will speak to new beginnings and the importance of growth. Residents will have the chance to share their stories and speak of their futures as they put the plants in the ground. The garden will serve as both a literal space of healing and growth as well as a metaphorical space for larger conversations and commitments to new beginnings.


Freedom House residents have been tending to their seeds, water them daily and getting them ready to go into the beds.

This is a wonderful project that will serve not only the needs of the Freedom House residents, but also their families and the community at large. While at Freedom House, residents will have the opportunity to gain or increase their gardening skills, supply healthy and freshly grown food to the on site cafeteria, and help create spaces of beauty and meditation. The gardens sit in between the dorms and the counseling offices, providing spaces for healing for both the residents and their families who come to visit.  Freedom House serves the needs of people in our communities who need support. Supporting Freedom House residents means supporting strong communities.

Here’s How You Can Help: 

Donated, locally grown day lilies!

Donated, locally grown day lilies!

We’ve already had many plants donated, but we could use more! We’ve started marigolds, zinnias, amaranth, and yarrow. We also have day lilies, full-grown yarrow, and hyssop. Can you add to our list?

If you’re a gardener, we’d love any plant donations you might have, especially some you’d started yourself! Below you can find a list of plants we’re looking for (as chosen for their ease of care and longevity). Of course, we’d happily take other options! As part of your donation, we’d love to share your name and the story behind the plants you’re donating so that we can share this with the residents and fill the beds with plants grown and loved by regional people. Knowing where these plants and soil came from help connect the garden to the region and the community and help build resources for the residents! 

We could also use some more soil to finish the beds and some tomato cages. Ever little bit helps and all donations made to Freedom House (plants or money) are tax deductible.

We'll be getting hyssop from this plant! Veggies and herbs:

Tomatoes of all varieties

Peppers of all varieties










Third generation yarrow from the McElroy House.

Third generation yarrow from the McElroy House.

Flowers for Butterfly Garden : 

Echinacea/cone flower

Milkweed (butterfly weed, red milkweed, etc)


Snap Dragon

Black-Eyed Susan

Bee Balm


Free Workshops on Growing Pecan Trees, Constructing Rain Barrels, Growing Heirloom Flowers, and Seed Saving!

Photo by Saira Khan for McElroy House

Photo by Saira Khan for McElroy House

Join is THIS Saturday April 4th beginning at 9:00 a.m. Freedom House staff and residents, organizers from the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources, and community volunteers will host a work and learning day at the Freedom House Garden.

Click here to RSVP/Share on facebook! 

Schedule of Events:

9:00-12:00 Volunteer in the Garden.

Join residents, volunteers, and Arkansas Tech Students in helping to clean out the flower beds where the butterfly and bee attracting gardens will be placed.

9:00-10:00 Rainwater Catchment Workshop with Stu Bradford

Are you interested in harvesting rainwater in your home or business? Stu Bradford and his son build their own rain water reclamation system at home to irrigate the garden and lawn using 55 gallon plastic barrels with pump and sprinklers. They reclaim 1,000 gallons per year, and plan to expand to 1,500 this spring. They currently build single and multiple unit reclamation systems for home and farm for folks around Arkansas. During this workshop you’ll learn how you can start reclaiming rainwater in your home.

10:00–11:00 Pecan Tree Workshop with Josh Hardin

Do you have backyard pecan trees or want to start growing pecan trees? Join Josh Hardin to learn more about how to ensure your pecans are healthy and capable of high yields. Josh Hardin is a fifth generation vegetable farmer from Grady, AR who operates Laughing Stock Farms, a certified organic fruit and vegetable farm near Sheridan. He holds a certificate in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from the University of California at Santa Cruz and is also completing a degree in Agricultural Education from University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Throughout the season, Laughing Stock grows over 40 varieties of vegetables utilizing sustainable growing methods and organic amendments to produce high quality organic produce for local restaurants and farmers markets.

11:00-12:00 Heirloom Flower Gardening/Attracting Butterflies and Bees with Debe Hudson

Learn how to attract butterflies and bees to your garden with heirloom flowers and herbs! Debe Hudson of ABC Greenhouse and Herb Farm will talk about the numerous varieties and give tips for growing these options in your home garden.

12:00-1:00 Seed Saving with ROOST (Revitalizing Ozark-Ouchita Seed Traditions)
ROOST is a project dedicated to protecting and implementing the diversity of heirloom seed varieties, agricultural folkways, knowledge, and practices throughout the Ozark-Ouchita bioregion. Join members from ROOST as they show you how to save tomato seeds each year! They’ll also discuss local seed traditions, the importance of seed saving, and how to get involved saving seed at home.

More on the Freedom House Gardens:
The gardens will include custom-built raised beds for berries and a network of container gardens for heirloom vegetables. The gardens will make use of preexisting flower beds in front of the dorms and counseling offices where colorful heirloom, butterfly and bee-attracting flowers will be planted. These will include both native plant perennials and annuals grown from seed by Freedom House residents. The gardens will be tended to by Freedom House residents and volunteers and will be incorporated in the daily activities of the center.

The gardens will serve as ongoing teaching tools for Freedom House residents, incorporating the preexisting gardening skills of many residents while also offering hands on experience with gardening for Freedom House residents, staff, and in the larger community. The flower beds will be filled with plants known to support our depleting butterfly and bee populations, encouraging not only beauty but also supporting the pollinators we need for global plant health. The flower gardens will also offer place of beauty to explore ideas surrounding grief and healing in all its forms.

Residents and community members alike have specifically asked for container gardens, which work well for people who may not have access to tillers, own their land, or live in apartments. Residents will experiment with a variety of donated containers, all of which will serves as working examples of how food can be grown in even the smallest of spaces.

Blueberries are known for their health benefits, are easy to maintain and benefit from pine needles, which are abundant at Freedom House’s space. ABC Greenhouse and Herb Farm has donated regionally grown blueberry plants as well as heirloom flowers. McElroy House will work with experienced gardeners to install easy to use drip irrigation systems for the berries to decrease water usage and experiment with other water harvesting options, ensuring the garden space is a place to think holistically about resource usage. The pre-existing pecan trees on site will also be incorporated into the larger garden plans.

Counselors will integrate the gardens into their sessions and residents will be encouraged to use the space in creative ways, focusing on how such resources can be of use after they leave Freedom House.
The McElroy House will offer community wide workshops and interactive media resources focusing on the gardens for residents of Freedom House and the larger community alike. The gardens will serve as both literal and metaphorical spaces to come together to build locally-based and community-led solutions around larger issues of poverty, access to resources, wellness, and cross-cultural understanding and unity.

Community members are encouraged to attend the groundbreaking and/or donate heirloom seeds and plants passed down in their families, helping populate the garden with plants that are deeply connected to the land and people of this region. The Seeds of Change Garden Project is a partnership of The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and ARVAC and Freedom House and will work to invigorate and re-envision ARVAC’s Garden Project, a program distributing free garden seeds within their nine county service region.

Want to know more about the Freedom House Garden? Click here.