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Farmers' uprising.

A number of local farmers who have been regulars at the Little Rock River Market are getting ready to move across the Arkansas River to escape competition from produce that isn't locally grown.

The Certified Arkansas Farmers Market will open May 3 in a parking lot on the corner of Fourth and Main streets in North Little Rock, ringleader Jody Hardin said last week.

Some vendors are "peddling crap that was rejected from Wal-Mart and Kroger," Hardin said. "It's just a quiet killer of the small farmer. We're not innovating because there's no premium at the River Market."

Evidently, packing their bags wasn't the farmers' first choice. They would have preferred to work out a deal with the River Market. But Hardin said River Market Manager Shannon Jeffrey Light wouldn't meet with the farmers to discuss their dissatisfaction.

"We didn't have a meeting for a whole year because she thought revolt would take place," he said.

We couldn't reach Light to hear her side of the dispute.

Hardin said he will personally scope out and certify the farms that are allowed to set up booths at the CAFM in order to ensure home-grown-ness.

The CAFM will also have a strict opening and closing policy, marked by a stock market-style bell. This is to frustrate people who have waited until farmers were about to go home for the day and then offered bargain-basement prices for leftover produce.

The market will be open from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesday and Saturday.

Hardin said he expects the Little Rock Farmers Market to continue to thrive even without the disgruntled locals.
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Title Annotation:Whispers
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 14, 2008
Words:271
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