By RICHARD DUKE

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

A plan that would bring local farmers and local restaurant owners together is the wish of a few in Faulkner County, and they were able to share it Tuesday.

A panel discussion on Farmers & Restaurants Eating Sustainable Healthy Foods (FRESH) was the final event during the Mid-South Horticulture & Fruit Producers Meeting held at the Natural Resource Building on Tuesday. Although a viable plan to bring these two entities together may be months or years away, those supporting it were hopeful of a good collaboration.

"The plan would need to be grass roots," said Cody Hopkins, a livestock farmer who supplies Hendrix College as well as several restaurants in Little Rock. Hopkins said he envisions a permanent storefront that allows farmers and restaurant owners to have a "collaborative effort" in their trade.

Issues such as fair price and the ability to supply exactly what area restaurants need are issues to worked on, according to Brad Kossover, owner of the Green Cart Deli, a hot dog stand that uses as much local product as possible and combines it with a biocompostable location. Kossover said that currently there is no real connection between the two groups and that issues such as premium prices can be worked out.

"I personally don’t have the time or effort to make phone call after phone call," he said. "It’s not productive, and especially in my business, I don’t shift from food that’s in season."

Some in attendance pointed out that Central Arkansas is years behind other areas such as Charleston, S.C. when it comes to the partnership between restaurants and local farmers. They also brought up arguments such as the ability for consumers to pay higher prices only because the food is local.

An example of a healthy partnership could come from cross promotion between the farm and restaurants. Seasonal foods could show up in specials promoted by the eateries.

"We don’t want the farmers to ask less than what they are getting," Kossover said. "There is a lot to explore, but it’s worth exploring."