Dripping Springs Garden is the project of gardeners Mark Cain and Michael Crane, along with the numerous interested young people who have come to learn about organic production and marketing each summer since 1984. The Garden is located in southwest Carroll County, about 15 miles south of Berryville and 50 miles east of Fayetteville, tucked into a tiny valley along Dry Fork Creek. Starting with an abandoned blueberry field and several open acres in 1984, Mark and Mike began to carve out terraced, raised-bed gardens with few machines and lots of hard work. Now some 25 years later gardens cover the slopes overlooking the creek and forest, and the garden is a lively workshop of production and learning for the owners and students who come to work with them.
Mark Cain came to organic market gardening through his interest in all things biological,with a degree in biology from the University of Illinois and subsequent study in organic horticulture at the Farm and Garden Project of the University of California Santa Cruz in 1978. Mark is an active member of the FayettevilleFarmers Market Board of Directors, and often an invited speaker at local and regional sustainablegriculture conferences.
Michael Crane is completely at home in the garden, and doesn’t just have a green thumb; he’s got green fingers, feet, heart, and mind as well. A native of the Ozarks (Springfield, MO), Mike learned gardening from his grandparents, learning to plant and put food up for the winter. Before coming to Dripping Springs, Michael spent years landscaping and working with native stone in the Eureka Springs area. The interns swear by his delicious fresh-from-the-garden cooking!
Every summer sees a new crop of interns at Dripping Springs. Since 1994, we have been working with the MESA program (Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture(www.mesaprogram.org), which brings in qualified young people from countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Nepal. Most often these students have completed university studies in agriculture or forestry and may already be working with small farmers as organic field advisors. American students come to us via the ATTRA sustainable internship listing (www.attrainternships.ncat.org) or word of mouth.
The interns arrive in early April, bringing with them lots of enthusiasm and energy. By working alongside these bright young people day after day, we come to share each other’s dreams of a healthy green planet that produces in abundance. How can we grow marketable crops without poisons? What is the best way to get our products to market, and to educate consumers? And how do we remain healthy, balanced, creative, and socially engaged while maintaining a strenuous and sometimes isolated lifestyle? Together we live out our best answers (so far) to these questions as we sharethe gardener’s life of hoeing, pruning, harvesting, marketing, and eating with the seasons.
Organically grown and garden-fresh
For over twenty years, the gardeners at Dripping Springs have been producing organic vegetables, culinary herbs, blueberries, and specialty cut flowers for the popular Fayetteville Farmers Market. Located 50 miles east of Fayetteville, Arkansas, in a tiny valley along Dry Fork Creek, the 5 acre terraced garden is a kaleidoscope of color, smell, and taste during the busy summer months. On most days you’ll find resident gardeners Mark Cain and Michael Crane, with the help of several student apprentices, busy at the work of seeding, weeding, harvesting and marketing of over 30 types of vegetables, 60 species of cut flowers, shiitake mushrooms, and blueberries.
Only environmentally-sound growing techniques are used at Dripping Springs. You can always rest assured that our garden produce and flowers are safe and wholesome, with a freshness that guarantees good nutrition (and best vase life for our bouquets). We use no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, and the products we do use are all approved for organic production. We are currently certified as ‘USDA Organic’by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Division. Your purchases help to promote the spread of organic agricultural practices that protect our Ozark environment.
Fayetteville Farmers Market
The Market on the historic downtown Square is at the heart of what’s most attractive about Fayetteville. The Market is open from the first Saturday in April through mid-November, and each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., you’ll find the fresh offerings of our Ozark growers. The Market is for producers only, so everything offered for sale has been grown by the vendor, right here in the Ozarks. Walk a ound the artfully landscaped Square Gardens and check out the many offerings of the growers and craft vendors—garden veggies, fruits, herb plants, pottery, cut flowers, wood carvings, and much more. The Market is the community place to be on Saturday mornings, when street musicians arrive to pick and fiddle, and shoppers make the rounds to see what’s just been picked from the surrounding countryside. For a complete schedule of Market-related events, see www.fayettevillefarmersmarket.com.
Freshness is that magic quality of ‘aliveness’ we experience in the bite of a real summer tomato or a cool and crunchy spring salad. Our garden produce and flowers are harvested the day before market, and refrigerated until time of delivery to market. We sell only directly to consumers, by-passing many layers of storage and handling, where freshness is lost. To get fresher than this, you’d have to pick it yourself!
We have a deep love of flowers for their inspirational beauty, fragrance, and color. We produce field-grown specialty cut flowers, not the typical blooms of the mass floral trade. From April through mid-November we bring an ever-changing palette of color and fragrance to the Market, from brilliant spring anemones, daffodils, and tulips, to masses of stately summer gladiolus, fragrant oriental lilies, and riotous zinnias. With over 60 species in production, you’re sure to find your special food for the soul. If you need a table bouquet for a dinner with friends, a big bunch for grandma’s 80th birthday, a nosegay for your sweetie, flowers for an informal wedding, or maybe just something special for yourself, we can help you. See us at the Market, or email us if you have a special event you’d like flowers for.