Judith Allen

Podcast: Season 2; Episode 8: Judith Allen with Downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts Market

Today on the Weekly podcast we visit with Judith Allen from the Downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts Market

SHOW NOTES

Opening day is May 7th.

Over 50 vendors have applied and been approved.

Each vendor is a local artisan who makes their own items to sell

A board of 6, including Allen, leads downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts

This year’s market will feature two food trucks

Lots various types of items for sale each week, especially for Mother’s Day

Judith Allen assumed President role a three years ago

Allen and her husband own SalScilla Farms

SalScilla Farms has a cafe and also prepares pre-made meals

Downtown Conway Farmers’ and Crafts Market Facebook Page

SalScilla Farms Facebook Page

Music by Joystick – https://www.joystock.org


The transcript is generated automatically and may contain inconsistencies.

Transcript

00:00.00

tejones

Hey, everyone, welcome to the weekly podcast by Conway Scene and I’m your host Todd Jones and today I’m delighted to have Judith Allen who has 2 hats. Actually we’ll talk about that in just a moment but she kind of heads up Downtown Conway farmers market. Welcome to the show. Judith.

 

00:21.59

Judith Allen

Thank you, Thank you so much. Pleasure, to be here.

 

00:25.34

tejones

You What is your official title with the downtown Common Farmer’s market.

 

00:31.70

Judith Allen

I am the president of the market and guide the board for the market as well.

 

00:38.70

tejones

Okay, so the leadership is kind of a board and you kind of oversee all that.

 

00:45.25

Judith Allen

That’s right? So we have several members of our board and they oversee different areas that we need to make sure we have a focus on marketing and membership. Um and compliance and the like.

 

01:01.14

tejones

What kind of responsibilities Do you have as the president?

 

01:07.32

Judith Allen

Well, I see it as um, the responsibility to bring the right resources to the right vendors and to our customers and to make sure that it’s a quality market and we focus on quality and not quantity. Um, we’re a certified Market. So part of my responsibility is to make sure that the vendors and we are actually making their product or growing their product or baking their product. We are a farmer’s market and a craft market so we have makers, we have bakers and we have Farmers, and so really just making sure that everyone is aware of that and helping the community know that the quality of our market is a big you know a big responsibility for myself. We have 6 on the board.

 

01:58.55

tejones

Now how many people did you say was on the board 6 on board. Are you one of those 6 or is that 6 plus you? Okay, okay, awesome. Um.

 

02:05.79

Judith Allen

But I’m one. Yeah I’m one of the 6 Yeah.

 

02:14.40

tejones

It’s always interesting to know how a farmer’s market works and obviously not everybody listening probably doesn’t know and actually I didn’t know that as well. So that’s good to know now let’s talk about your other hat real quick before we get into downtown Conway Farmer market farmer’s market you run the SalScilla Farms.

 

02:17.57

Judith Allen

And the point in.

 

02:27.85

Judith Allen

Um.

 

02:33.92

Judith Allen

Yes, yes, so my husband and I own SalScilla Farms. Um, and we focus on we would consider ourself a market farm. So we’re growing things that we know people would come to a farmer’s market to pick up.

 

02:34.15

tejones

SalScilla Farms is that say that I say wrong? yeah.

 

02:50.11

tejones

In.




02:53.50
Judith Allen

Um, really focused on lettuces and quality greens tomatoes cucumbers. All of those things and we are a farm that grows twelve months out of the year so we have high tunnels that allow us to grow through the coldest part of the season. Um, so a quick example of that is we had a large plant sale last weekend where we were selling all of our vegetable and flour plants and then we’ll do it again this weekend um will be open 10 to 2 Saturday and sunday. Um, and our cafe will be open on our farm. We also have a farm de fort cafe so you can come out pick up plants and have a little bite to eat and this weekend is Cinco de Mayo normal yeah

 

03:40.81

tejones

So tell me about the cafe like when is it open and um.

 

03:48.55
Judith Allen

So We um, we open it throughout the season depending on the weather to be quite honest, it is an open air patio that we serve on it’s about 45 people. The cafe is really focused on farm to Fork. Um. Good fresh ingredients and our customers Really love it. So They can come out, pick up their vegetables, pick up their meals and they can also eat here. Um, and we take those meals to market so customers can order meals in advance. And we have a commercial trailer and we take those to the market so they love it because they can pick up pre-made meals ah as well as um, their fresh vegetables from us.

 

04:34.90

tejones

Okay, that’s something I didn’t know so that’s pretty pretty cool to find out. Um, let’s talk about May seventh, which is the opening date for the downtown Conway farmers and craft market. Um I think I’ve been saying it wrong? um.

 

04:39.38

Judith Allen

So.

 

04:47.89
Judith Allen

Yeah, okay, we are. Yeah yeah, so you know um, may when you’re looking at Farmer’s markets may believe it or not is a bit early for some of the prime vegetables.

 

04:51.50
tejones

That is and you’re kind of pitching in his mother’s day weekend or kind of a mother’s day. Yeah.



05:07.63
Judith Allen

To be ready right? The tomatoes aren’t ready unless someone’s growing them in a hothouse which we don’t do at our market. So really looking at what we can bring to our community in may because we certainly want to open so what we do on mother’s day weekend is we really focus on mom. You know again, we’re crafters so we have a lot of vendors there that make beautiful things that would be a great gift for mom. Whether it’s essential oils or lotions or natural soaps. Um, beautiful aprons and blankets. Um, lots of. Plants and hanging baskets will be available. Um whipped honeys you know sweets and treats. Um it’s a craft. Just everything that you can imagine to give you an idea you know two years ago our market was probably 30 vendors strong. Um, we’re at 55 vendors. So a great opportunity one-stop shop to buy something local. You know that was made by a local artesian and have fun. We’ll have music there and a couple of food trucks. Um, one of the things that I’m really proud of. Our market has a kids booth so this year we’ll be planting a seed for mom and just doing a little arts and crafts with the kids so including them is really important at our market.

 

06:36.14

tejones

Now. Um, what time I’m pulling up to the event you 8 a m.

 

06:42.37

Judith Allen

Yeah, 8 a m you know? um, we’re gonna be there from 8 a m to one us. Some of our customers have been with us for years. They know that we get there early so we do see folks starting to show up at 7 or seven thirty but we’ll have all this set up by 8 and ready to serve our customers. We’re very excited to do that and we’re welcoming. Lots of new vendors as well. Um, so a quick example of that is we’ll have an organic fruit juice booth there so freshly squeezed. Organic fruit juice and so that’s a new one for us and we’re super excited about it.

 

07:30.20

tejones

Now you said that there would be food trucks in music is that the case for the seventh the the one on the seventh. Do you know? do you know who they will be yet at this point.

 

07:32.97

Judith Allen

So. Yes, yes, where.

 

07:45.14

Judith Allen

Yeah, so we have our famous tamale truck. We’re returning and for our customers that have joined us in the past it’s Rubis R Ubi s um, yeah, Mexican but they specialize in these fantastic tamales. Um, we’ll have another truck there and I apologize the name escapes me, but it’s ah it’s a barbecue truck. Um, and then we will have our food there from Salsa farms and the fruit juice vendor will be there and then you know we.

 

08:08.62

tejones

A.

 

08:17.75

tejones

Um, any.

 

08:22.79

Judith Allen

In addition to the food trucks. We also have several bakers you know So B and B breads will be their B and B creations you may know them. They just opened a little storefront. They have beautiful focaccia breads and sweet breads as well as crusty bread.

 

08:32.34

tejones

Dead.

 

08:40.85

Judith Allen

And they will be there with all of their things. So lots of opportunities.

 

08:44.78

tejones

Wow. Ah, do you know who the music will be at this point.

 

08:49.53

Judith Allen

Yeah, so Rick Burton um is a wonderful musician and he has been at the market several times with us. Um, he he actually played out at SalScilla Farms.

 

09:01.39

tejones

And.

 

09:03.18

Judith Allen

Um, this past weekend at our plant sale he will be there for our event on opening day.




09:09.93

tejones

That’s fantastic . I’m now looking forward to opening day because I want some tamales. Yeah, you know you don’t get those the well the kind you’re talking about very.

 

09:13.16

Judith Allen

Ah I did do I do? Yeah, they’re amazing. Yeah.

 

09:24.82

tejones

Let’s go back I don’t yeah I don’t know how long I don’t know enough about the downtown Farmers market but you know how long that has been around.

 

09:35.32

Judith Allen

It’s been around for a while I would have to guess probably 20 years maybe 15 I I was asked to lead the market three years ago my first year was during covid so you can imagine I trial by fire. But um I inherited it from a wonderful gentleman Lionel Smith and some people who frequent the market may have known him as pee wee but he started that market. He started it and it has been in several locations out at the old fairgrounds as a quick example.

 

10:08.98

tejones

Um, yeah.

 

10:11.31

Judith Allen

And really wanted a place where people could go and ensure that what they were buying was quality and it was certified so you know you get into some situations where you see a vendor on the side of the road and the like they may have just um. Are reselling and we make sure that our farmers are growing what they sell.

 

10:34.78

tejones

So yeah, okay so that’s that’s ah, that’s a point to go over the farmers are making what they sell but also the artisans are also you talked about that you talked about the acrs and.

 

10:44.64

Judith Allen

Miss wall.




10:48.59

tejones

So that you so they’re not reselling stuff to other paid people they’re making and then selling their stuff.

 

10:54.33

Judith Allen

That’s correct, right? So if we have a new farmer that joins our market. We do? What’s called a farm visit. We just go out. They have to tell us what they’re growing. We go out have a farm visit to learn their operation. It helps us market them better. And um, you know, just do a quality check there and then we do have um, a policy that we’re allowed to validate any crafter Baker’s room or wherever they’re setting up to make sure that they’re they’re actually. Producing what they’re selling and you know it’s and it we get a lot of people that just want to resell things that they buy um and the like. So. It’s important when you’re choosing your farmer’s market to know that the products are quality. The products are local. Right? They’re not being brought in from a wholesaler and that they’re the quality because the farmers are the ones that have grown it.

 

11:54.25

tejones

Is there some kind of geographical limitation on who can sell at the market you you like only Conway or only in Faulkner County or.

 

12:05.80

Judith Allen

We’re in Faulkner County and surrounding counties. Um, most of our vendors are from the Faulkner County area and we would certainly not take anyone from out of state. Um, and we vary. You know every once in a while we’ll have a drop in farmers from northwest Arkansas and we’ll know who that farmer is or we’ll check with the local market there. They may have a surplus of things or may not have been able to make their local market and will certainly make an exception. Um, but for the most part it’s central Arkansas and you know with the primary being Faulkner County

 

12:45.75

tejones

So you’ve already talked a little bit about it. But what kind of vendors can people expect? Is there something maybe that they wouldn’t expect that’s going to be at this year’s downtown conway farmers and.

 

13:01.30

Judith Allen

Past smart. So I think you know, um, something new. That’s really taken off for us is our plant cell so our opening day we will have lots of lots of plants there.



13:04.96

tejones

Craft Market. Yeah.

 

13:20.76

Judith Allen

Vegetable plants and and flowers will have cut flowers there. You know again, Great gift timing for for Mom We have a ah leather maker we have um, ah people that are hand making jewelry whether it’s polymer earrings Or. Semi- Precious stone and you know we have vendors that produce natural dog remedies whether they have a scratchy you know, ah fur or the like and so it really is a gamut honey you know whipped honey a bees wax candles. Things that you forget even exists because you can only find them in a farmer’s market. Custom made charcuterie boards are another one and beautiful wax candles Wax melts. All of those things. So We we continue to look in here and ah want to understand.

 

14:03.36

tejones

Ah, right.

 

14:19.29

Judith Allen

What our customers are looking for and we go out and we try to source those vendors for them.

 

14:23.21

tejones

Do you have to look hard like you have to approach people or they approach you is a little bit of both.

 

14:32.60

Judith Allen

It’s a little bit of both and we usually get our new customers. Um, word of mouth so I had one that did. Our pre registration was in February. She decided to join our market and has since brought 3 of her friends that do different things and wanted to be a part of the market. The market is a really good starting point for new business owners that are just trying to get off the ground.

 

14:59.15

tejones

That.

 

15:01.00

Judith Allen

And we do a lot of education for our new vendors. They may have never sold before some of our vendors are our previous customers. We have 1 lady. That’s fantastic and she knits and we you know we said that that’s an amazing thing. You should join us so we’ve helped her build up. And the proper inventory and everything that she needs to know to be a market vendor. So we’ve seen some of our vendors go on to open storefronts. You know, just like b and b creations. They were bread venders. They had never been at market three years ago and now they own a storefront um Mama Myetor’s suits. She has her own cafe and you know so it really is an awesome place for someone to get started and hone their business and. Build a client base so that they can move forward and grow if. That’s something that they want to do? yeah.

 

16:01.60

tejones

That’s what’s really interesting is in some senses like a little accelerator. But for you know Makers I Guess something like ah you know what? you’d expect the conductor to do something but you’re.

 

16:12.41

Judith Allen

Yeah, yeah.

 

16:15.20

tejones

You’re doing it with more of the Artisans and the makers That’s that’s pretty cool.

 

16:17.48

Judith Allen

It is cool. I Love that part of it.

 

16:21.10

tejones

It sounds like it. Oh this is just me brainstorming. So but you know if anybody’s ever been to the Folk Center in Mountain view.

 

16:34.10

Judith Allen

Yes, yes.

 

16:37.70

tejones

It’s like you gather all of them and bring them to 1 place and they’re all selling the stuff that they’re making so I think it’s pretty exciting and you said yeah I’m sorry, go ahead.

 

16:42.44

Judith Allen

Yeah, it is now I was just gonna say it is it. It is Amazing. It’s a wonderful you know Market family I would call all of our vendors. You know they just love each other and it’s amazing to see them. And the offseason they’re networking. They’re saying hey I found an event we can go to and so it you know everyone helps everyone set up their tents and so it is a big market family and it is bringing something special to the community I think that it’s.

 

17:03.79

tejones

And.

 

17:16.56

Judith Allen

Probably 1 of the best kept secrets unfortunately and it’s something that I’m working with the community to try to make sure everyone is aware of. We heard it so many times I didn’t even know you guys were down here. But um, we’re working with Uca outreach and that’s been a fantastic partnership.

 

17:26.66

tejones

Yeah.

 

17:35.49

Judith Allen

Build that and um, you know when you see ah someone a college intern that’s over stayed over the summer and they show up at your farmer’s market and recognize what’s there. It’s amazing to see those you know those college um kids say oh my gosh I didn’t know you were here and they continue to come back. So you know you’re kind of providing a little bit of home to them in that regard as well. Yeah, yeah.

 

17:58.54

tejones

Yeah, the ones that are staying around for the summer I can see for sure actually were talking to a young lady today you said she’d probably come down there so she was just asking where the farmers markets are I was like oh well. Okay, and I said what the creator does on the day.

 

18:09.80

Judith Allen

Um, there you go you know.

 

18:17.25

tejones

So um, you have 50 plus vendors right? Now you said.

 

18:19.65

Judith Allen

We have 54 vendors that’ll be joining us on opening day. We were hovering at 30. That’s right.

 

18:23.33

tejones

And just three years ago you were having around 30 yeah so you’ve managed to expand that now. The. The farmers market like let’s talk about where it is exactly so the people who are listening are going. Oh you’re saying this downtown exactly where it is.

 

18:41.10

Judith Allen

Yeah, so we’re at um, the easiest way to say it is at Parkway and Maine. So if you’re standing. It’s the commuter parking lots in downtown conway at parkway in may.

 

18:47.76

tejones

A a.

 

18:56.62

Judith Allen

You’re standing in the parking lot and the railroad tracks are behind you. You’ll see the Conway Corp parking lot to your left and the courthouse and everything to your right? So it’s that big open parking lot home.

 

19:06.10

tejones

Yeah, and if we know this weekend. It’ll be occupied with things pertaining to toad truck day. So if you you you can come down there if you want, the farmers market won’t be open for another week. But um.

 

19:13.82

Judith Allen

Um, yeah.

 

19:22.52

tejones

But yeah, there was literally almost across the street from where my office is so um I’m always excited about it now you guys are open every Saturday correct.

 

19:31.49

Judith Allen

Yep, that’s right? So we’ll open on the seventh and we’ll go through the last Saturday of October. I believe it’s the twenty Eighth or Twenty ninth this year. Um, every Saturday for sure unless the weather is just horrible. We’ve only had to cancel once since i. I’ve been around so that gives you an idea and then during the prime harvest growing season we will have markets on Tuesdays if the farmers have produce that they want to sell. You know you want to sell it at the precious available. And then our market is also on the outside of October will participate in some of the holiday events mistletoe madness and everything going on downtown will participate in those in November and december. And then something that we’ve started looking to do is participate and set up a market early once a month during the art walk. We weren’t able to do it quite this year but we definitely want to do it next year and look to have some afternoon slash evening markets. Think our community would really appreciate that.

 

20:46.56

tejones

Yeah, well that’s a pretty cool event I Went to last week. Um, now talk about the prime Harvest Can you tell? can you say exactly I mean obviously you can’t say exactly when the prime harvest time is but give an idea because you know.

 

20:58.50

Judith Allen

Yes.

 

21:03.38

tejones

I’m thinking on Tuesday morning I might want to slide over there if I want to know.

 

21:04.32

Judith Allen

Absolutely so so you could probably expect that mid, um, mid -june through the end of july um to have that produce available twice a week. And maybe in August our farmers are really getting good about extending the growing season and something we’ve talked a lot about especially with our new farmers is a second harvest so you’ll hear us talk about the second harvest coming in. And what that means is we just really want to work with our farmers to go ahead and plant a complete second crop and it takes a little bit effort to do that because of the hotter it gets the harder. It is to keep things watered and and grow and the like. But They have recognized that by doing that we are extending our growing season and that’s one of the reasons that we’ve moved from closing in September to being able to go through the end of October last year. Our farmers had tomatoes through the last market and that’s amazing.

 

22:13.38

tejones

It is amazing. Um, so I guess if people want to know if you’re open on those Tuesday mornings during that time just to check with your Facebook page.

 

22:14.90

Judith Allen

In itself.



22:23.79

Judith Allen

That’s right? So if there’s anything changing. We always post it on Facebook. If we plan to have vendors on Tuesday we will make a post the day before and say you know there’s vegetables. Available or the watermelons are in and down at the market. So we try to communicate that ahead of time so that you can drop by.

 

22:47.19

tejones

Is a time frame similar like 8 to 10 to noon or something like that.

 

22:53.92

Judith Allen

Yeah, it’s usually from 8 to noon. Um 8 to 1230 um and we’ll put it on there. You know we have 3 farmers or sometimes it’s not a lot but it is great produce that’s available and was harvested that morning.

 

23:10.92

tejones

Let’s talk. Let’s shift gears real quick before we conclude and talk about some of the things that people do look forward to produce-wise that maybe are not in season just yet it might be another few weeks. Um, and first thing that ends up to me or tomatoes cause that’s.

 

23:23.60

Judith Allen

Yeah, and you’re on Target there for sure. It’s a common question. So you know some of our farmers will come in with strawberries. Um and those are.

 

23:28.24

tejones

Always what I would call to use.

 

23:42.47

Judith Allen

Almost done. You know you might have two weeks of strawberries and then the next thing that people want to know is where where are the tomatoes where are the tomatoes and then right behind that are the blueberries here yet and then watermelon you know so you kind of align that with um. With the different holidays I say look for the watermelon on the fourth of July as a quick example, but that it is and when those tomatoes come. It’s like Christmas and and they start coming in and out our farmers really grow. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

 

24:11.84

tejones

Um, and.

 

24:20.90

Judith Allen

You know, 5-6 10 different varieties I see. I see our customers trying new things that they’ve not tried before and I love that um you know I’ve I’ve seen children eat cherry tomatoes like candy because they’re so good.

 

24:33.91

tejones

More.

 

24:37.21

Judith Allen

And so that’s I think the tomatoes coming in Mark just that summer is here type of event.

 

24:45.31

tejones

Do you expect those to be coming out late may something like that.

 

24:49.95

Judith Allen

They will Yeah, they’ll be. There’ll be some starting to roll in and we do have some farmers that will start picking Green tomatoes and so sometimes fried green tomatoes are on your menu before fresh tomatoes.

 

25:06.40

tejones

Right.

 

25:08.90

Judith Allen

Then the cherries will roll in and the early girls will roll in but you know towards the end of may we should start seeing them in quality and quantity. Um, and. And you know our returning customers know they’re the first thing to go so you know we have people standing at the sidewalk waiting to come into market at 7 a m to wait to get? Yeah yeah for sure.

 

25:26.87

tejones

Be there? Yeah and then it was really hard to beat it. Each of is chatting the mom about the day. It’s pretty hard to beat Fresh Garden Tomato Purple Hull peas piece cornbread and some Okra. That’s pretty hard.

 

25:39.69

Judith Allen

Yeah, yeah, that’s right Okra is another big one and the peas it our customers know that the cadence of Harvest believe it or not and um, you can see them. You know.

 

25:45.75

tejones

And.

 

25:58.17

Judith Allen

We Our pickler customers know when the cucumbers come in and they come and they buy in bulk to get their cucumbers and their pickles for the entire season. So a lot of you know we teach them when to expect what? um. And they kind of align with that as they’re doing their canning and stuff so it’s a fun partnership now. The strawberries are here. Um, so the strawberries will be I mean there are some vendors that will pull late season strawberries. But.

 

26:17.46

tejones

And yeah the strawberries come in in June.

 

26:33.15

Judith Allen

For the most part you may only have strawberries the first couple of weeks off of market and then they’ll drift off because of the heat.

 

26:41.14

tejones

Got you? Yeah well, that’s always important to you. Everybody loves to get their strawberries and strawberry shortcake and all that kind of thing as this now it’s supper time and hungry Thanks to talking about all this wonderful produce.

 

26:47.61

Judith Allen

Um, I’m right, That’s why yeah yeah.

 

26:58.90

tejones

I Know everybody’s going to be looking forward to going downtown to the downtown Conway Farmers Market Our farmers and Crafts Market. I don’t know if I will get there in a long if I ever get that right? but it’s good to know that you do more than just sell food and and.



27:02.78

Judith Allen

Um, farmers and.

 

27:15.98

tejones

You know you got the crafts and the bread and that kind of thing. So.

 

27:18.10

Judith Allen

Yeah, yeah, absolutely and you know through the summer we will have events where you can bring the whole family out. We have one called meet the machines where waste management you know in Conway Corp they bring out some of the tree pickers and the and and the large um. Recycle machines and stuff and the kids just love it and then we have another one called harvest best where we bring out all the tractors and they get to play on those. So just really important to follow our Facebook page and we’ll certainly post those events as planned.

 

27:53.99

tejones

Ah, yeah, I’m thinking you also do something around Halloween as well.

 

27:57.66

Judith Allen

Yeah, we did trunk or treat and we have ah hum, we have a little costume contest for the kids. It’s really a family oriented market and we really try to focus on it. Family and make sure that there’s something there for everyone and you know it’s interesting because I’m starting to see the children of the adults that we’ve been serving starting to come back on their own as young teenagers and experiencing the Market. So.

 

28:31.47

tejones

Well I am now excited for the Farmers Market. I was already excited but now I’m even more excited. So thanks for coming on and chatting with this about the downtown Farmers market.

 

28:33.17

Judith Allen

That’s really important from a family perspective, ah me too.

 

28:44.19

Judith Allen

Um, So it’s my pleasure and you know, just um, if you want to jump on another podcast I’m happy to do so and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to. Ah, talk more about our market. It’s very unique and I appreciate it.

 

29:03.34

tejones

Well if the farmers market information is definitely one of the top things people begin to look for this time of year. So I’m trying to bring that information to people. Thanks Judith.



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