Garden Book Project


One of the Campbell’s goats outside of Russellville, Arkansas. Image by Saira Khan.

Our current focus at the McElroy House is the creation of a community-centered publication focusing on small-scale growing and backyard gardens in the Pope and Yell County region. This is a rich and long-standing tradition in the region, and one that we can tap into to build stronger communities.

Much more than a directory or a how-to book, the Garden Book will focus on the people behind the gardens, illuminating the power of living traditions and sustainable living, the importance of teaching youth, and the diversity of sustainable growing traditions in the region. Our goal is to encourage a larger conversation about the importance of local food production and organize for the future.

In both Pope and Yell Counties nearly twenty percent of the population live below the poverty line with many families relying on food banks and state assistance to supplement their grocery needs. Far too often fresh foods, especially organically grown vegetables, are financially of reach for many citizens. Yet the region is filled with available land and a long growing season making it possible for increased food production that could greatly offset at least a portion of the community’s nutritional needs.

Pope and Yell Counties have a long-standing tradition of small-scale growing and backyard gardening. While this tradition has waned in recent years, it’s still very much alive and experiencing a revival in small pockets throughout the community. Entitled simply “The Garden Book,” this publication employs a hybrid approach of asset mapping and needs assessment and will explore both older and newer forms of sustainable small-scale growing and gardening in the region.

Participatory research is a large part of our process, and as we gather information we make it accessible to the public through our site. You can keep up to date with our meetings and research here on the McElroy House site and our facebook page.

We are a totally volunteer organization and we are always in need of donations. If you’re interested in supporting the Garden Book, please let us know! Monetary donations are wonderful, but we can certainly use sweat equity as well. Contact us at the link above for more information. For more information contact Meredith Martin-Moats at

Meet a few people to be featured in the book:

Chuck and Phyllis Campbell

*Kristin Simmons

* Brian Mader and Whiney Wills

Listen to this grandfather and grandson talk of about gardening together here:


16 Comments on “Garden Book Project”

  1. […] McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action as part of the ongoing Garden Book project, an outreach project documenting the stories of small-scale growers in Pope and Yell Counties. The […]

  2. […] of local growers in the Yell and Pope County regions of central Arkansas. To learn more about the Garden Book project, go here. Interested in supporting this work? Click here to contact us! We’d love to hear from […]

  3. […] You can learn more about the work at the McElroy House: Organization for Culture Resources and Commu… […]

  4. […] Readers from Arkansas who are interested in gardening be sure and check out the work of the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action’s Garden Book Project!… […]

  5. […] An explination of the Garden Book project […]

  6. […] More on the McElroy House Garden Book Project  […]

  7. […] An explanation of the Garden Book project […]

  8. […] An explanation of the Garden Book project […]

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