Big News!: Giving Tree Grant from Pope County Community Foundation!


Goats at the Campbell’s house. Image by Saira Khan.

We’re so very pleased to formally announce we have been named as a recipients of one of the Giving Tree grants from the Pope County Community Foundation! 

This grant will help us move forward with our project, and we’re so thankful for their support!

Below you will find a copy of our press release. Feel free to share far and wide!

For Immediate Release: Pope County Community Foundations Supports Local Garden Research

The McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History and Community Action is proud to be named a recipient of a recent Giving Tree Grant from the Pope County Community Foundation for their ongoing Garden Book project.

The Garden Book Project seeks to explore the diverse stories of small-scale gardeners and growers in the Yell and Pope County areas, focusing on the people behind the gardens and thus illuminating the power of sustainable living, the need for teaching youth these skills, and the diversity of sustainable growing traditions in the region. Both Pope and Yell Counties have a long-standing tradition of small-scale growing and backyard gardening, and while this tradition has somewhat waned in recent years, small-scale food production continues to supply food for many residents and is experiencing a revival in small pockets throughout the community. This grant will help toward printing costs for the book. 

Much more than a tradition, small-scale gardening is a practical resource for the community. 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. The goal of the Garden Book Project is to not only document the wisdom of this living tradition, but to also encourage a larger community conversation about the importance of local growing, the ways in which the community can come together to support the needs of existing small-scale growers, and encourage conversations that can help us organize for the future.


Kristin Simmons with one of her chickens. Image by Saira Khan, research by Marie Williams.

The book will be available in both print and online and will feature the beautiful images of Russellville photographer Saira Khan. A series of radio pieces will also accompany the book and the McElroy House will be working in partnership with El Zocalo Immigrant Resource Center to offer bi-lingual books and resources. Members of the research team include Meredith Martin-Moats, Marie Williams, and Kelsey Trotter, with  support from Rachel Townsend and Bryan Moats. 
As part of our project we’ve already met with a grandfather and grandson who grow together for both themselves and a local food bank, a family of teachers who raise goats, and a young twenty-two year old modern homesteader with a growing flock of chickens. These stories of local growers help to demystify gardening, especially to younger generations while also building pride in local knowledge and resources. The generous support of the Pope County Community Foundation will help us move this project forward.

The McElroy House: Organization for Folklife, Oral History, and Community Action is a research and advocacy organization for the support and exploration of folklife, oral history, sustainability, holistic land use, community action, and inter-cultural and inter-generational partnerships in Yell County and the Arkansas river valley. We seek to explore how the past connects to the present and how we can weave this knowledge into a stronger future for everyone, old-timers and newcomers alike.