Tell me a little about yourself.
Kim: "I have always been an outdoorsy person! I have a biology degree from Arkansas Tech. I was a microbiologist at the Department of Health for 6 years, but I got to the point of missing being outdoors and working with my hands. I started volunteering with local farmers and got an apprenticeship with Little Rock Urban Farming. I really enjoyed growing good food for my community. I did a year of service with Arkansas GardenCorps at the garden behind the Conway library and hosted events in the garden with kids, adults, and members of the community. From hosting those events and working in the garden, I realized I wanted to start my own farm so that’s when I started Bell Urban Farm. It was a way I could grow healthy food, grow beautiful flowers, and also connect with the community on how to grow, eat, and appreciate good, locally grown food."
What do you do at Bell Urban Farm?
K: "A little bit of everything. I manage the farm and the farmstand, so everything from planting seeds, harvesting flowers, to ordering, to partnering with local farms, to marketing, to accounting, all the things…"
How did Bell Urban Farm get its start?
K: "I started Bell Urban Farm in 2017. I started off growing mixed vegetables and flowers. Since then, I’ve focused on growing fresh flowers for bouquets. We had this property that had this old farmhouse on it so we got the idea to renovate it and turn it into a year-round farmers market. Not only to sell our own flowers and produce, but to connect with other local farms to sell their meat, eggs, cheese, etc. To fund the reinvention, we actually used Kickstarter and the community helped us raise $155,000. It was incredible!
Conway has a few farmers’ markets, but they’re not open year-round. We grow mainly flowers here on the farm, but we also have some beehives and grow a lot of plants for a giant plant sale each year. We are also getting more chickens in the spring. We eventually want to create community events like gardening shops or cooking workshops in the kitchen, but COVID has put a damper on some of the workshop ideas. We are still trying to figure that out."
Who is Bell Urban Farm? What makes Bell Urban Farm different?
K: "For the Farmstand, what sets us apart from other grocery stores is that we sell only Arkansas grown and made products. Everything comes from an Arkansas farm, business, or artisan. One thing about our farm is that we are certified naturally grown and we grow cut flowers. I think we are the only ones in Conway that grow naturally grown cut flowers for bouquets. We developed the niche of one of the only flower growers in Conway and one of the few in Central Arkansas."
How have your customers responded to RMC being in your store?
K: "They love it! They love having locally roasted coffee and especially one that’s roasted locally in town. We are always sold out of Pinnacle and Ouachita - they run right off the shelf."
Anything that sticks out to you or is special about partnering with RMC as a wholesale client?
K: "I really enjoy how easy it is to work with RMC. It’s super convenient to place wholesale orders, they are always super responsive and friendly. The pricing is also affordable on our end. We started buying RMC wholesale for our open-air stand before we were even open. I like working with Round Mtn Coffee because we have a connection being in the same local community."
Do you personally have a favorite coffee or go to coffee order?
K: "I am an iced coffee person. Usually an iced latte, all year round. Even if it’s 20 degrees."
Love the new location! Anything else new coming up for Bell Urban Farm that you can share with us?
K: "Since we just opened in November, we still have so many plans, workshops, and events coming up. Our biggest event of the year is our Spring Plant sale on April 17th. A lot of other plans are in the works as we are still gaining ground since our opening. I know we want to get local food trucks out here on the weekends and add ready-made, grab and go meals made out of local produce."
What are some other products, besides RMC of course, that you would recommend a first timer grabbing or is extra special and unique to your shop?
K: "Our most popular product is Loblolly, you can’t go wrong with one of their pints or we sell it by the scoop if you wanna check it out. Teaberry kombucha is a big one and now we have growlers for it. We have everything from fresh eggs, to produce, to sourdough bread from Serenity Farm Bakery and all our meat is locally raised."
How can Conway support Bell Urban Farm?
K: "The biggest support we can get right now is word of mouth. People talking about us, people tagging us, and anything to spread the word to say we are open. We are still trying to get the word out that we are open, a grocery store, and making the commitment to try to buy more local produce. When people choose to buy from us, you’re not only supporting us but the farmer. The more money you spend here, the more the money stays in the community, and I think that’s something really unique we want people to know about our shop."
Any last messages to our customers?
K: "Come visit us for Valentine’s Day! We will have plenty of Valentine’s Day gifts like locally made chocolates, cards, jewelry and gifts! Perfect time to check us out and shop local for the holiday.."