Navigating the Central Arkansas Farmers Markets

Tomatoes on Display
••• The best tomatoes are local tomatoes. Weslet Hitt / Getty Images

All of our local farmers markets are open and ready for shopping.  Each farmer's market has it's own style.  Here's how to navigate all of them.

If you're looking for locally grown food, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture has instituted an "Arkansas Grown" program, which supplies signs and listings for locally grown produce.  If you see the "Arkansas Grown" sign, the produce was grown in Arkansas.

  If you don't want to ask or read signs, several central Arkansas farmers markets only sell Arkansas goods.

The River Market Farmers Market (Tuesdays and Saturdays):

The River Market Farmers Market is probably the most popular farmers market. Aside from locally produce, they have brokered produce, art and craft items for sale and some prepared foods.

Navigating the produce at this market can be a little tricky. Usually, the sellers are pretty honest about where their produce comes from, but this is a public market.  Farmers who grown their own goods can come and sell their wares, but food brokers who purchase produce from all over, including both in state and out of state farms, also sell there.  The brokers are usually honest when you ask, but you do have to ask.  The local farms display the Arkansas Grown signs, but sometimes the brokers carry produce from in state and out of state.  I've never noticed an Arkansas Grown sign being deceitful, but if it matters to you, ask the seller.

  If they don't know, then it's probably not local. 

Because this is a public market, this market usually has the widest variety of produce.  You can get off season items here, along with the in season items. 

This market is located in two outdoor, open-air pavilions overlooking Riverfront Park and the Arkansas River in the space behind the River Market building on 400 President Clinton Ave.

 

The River Market Farmers Market is open every Saturday and Tuesday from May until September from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.  You can park in any of the River Market parking lots, but there's usually a parking fee.

Bernice Gardens Farmers Market (Sundays)

The Bernice Gardens Farmers Market is not that far from the River Market and it offers 100% local, sustainably raised produce. I also tend to find more locally produced non-produce there, specifically dairy and meats.  There are often musicians and prepared foods available to purchase.  This market has the feeling of South Main: it's trendy and local.  Pretty much all of the vendors here are farmers or work directly with the farmers.  They call tell you anything about the produce and where and how it was grown.

The problem, or plus side, of an all local market is that you only get what is fresh and in season in Arkansas.  The selection here is often less than at the big farmers market.  However, produce is always tastier, fresher and healthier in season, so learning to eat in season is a good thing.  I try to buy a thing or two I've never eaten before each trip.  Often the vendors can even tell you great ways to prepare it too.

The Bernice Garden market is located at 1401 S.

Main St.

The Bernice Garden is open on Sundays from mid-April to September from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers Market

The last large market in Central Arkansas, The Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers Market requires 100% of products sold at the market be grown or produced in Arkansas.  They also usually have locally produced meat and dairy.  The atmosphere is usually peppered with live music and local artists.

The Argenta Farmers Market is also smaller than the River Market, because you only have fresh, seasonal goods. However, everything here is certified Arkansas grown, so you don't have to ask before you purchase.

The Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers Market is located at 5th and 6th Main Street in the historic Argenta neighborhood in North Little Rock.

The Argenta Certified Arkansas Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon from April to September.

The Smaller Markets:

There are several small, parking lot markets around the city that make it convenient to pick up locally grown produce. Most of these markets feature local Arkansas farmers, but it's always best to ask if you want to k now.

Dogtown Farmers Market (Saturdays): This is the newest on the scene.  They are open on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon and located at 410 Main Street in North Little Rock.  It seems like it will be a great place. Open late April to September.

Westover Hills (Tuesdays): This is a small market with about a dozen vendors on the parking lot of Westover Hills Presbyterian Church on 6400 Kavanaugh Blvd.   It has great hours for people who work on the weekends.  Open Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m.  Open late April to September.

Hillcrest (Saturday, year round): This is the only market that is open year round. It's also a great place to find food trucks.  Open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.  There are usually about 15-20 vendors.  It's located at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church (2200 Kavanaugh Blvd.).