The Arkansas Local Food Network and The Bernice Garden will host the Playing with Produce: A Family-Friendly Fundraiser, which will include a series of special events to raise funds for afterschool and summer cooking and nutrition classes for students at Washington Elementary.

Each week in April, a different local restaurant will stream a live, virtual demonstration of several recipes that participants can follow along with via Zoom. Participants will be sent a box of the ingredients they will need to follow the tutorial, which is designed to broaden dinner menus and teach people how to incorporate fresh, local Arkansas ingredients

The events will be held from 6–7 p.m., every Thursday: 

  • April 8 – Hey Sweetie – Sweet Potato class featuring The Root Cafe sold out

  • April 15 – Greens Galore – Greens class featuring House of Mental 

  • April 22 – The Incredible Edible Egg – Egg class featuring El Sur Food Truck

  • April 29 – Fresh from the Patch – Cabbage class featuring Black Swan Catering Company

This event was born out of a partnership of South Main businesses to meet the needs of Washington Elementary. The school operates after school and summer programs through a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. The grant offers support for out-of-school-time programs, but these funds cannot pay the food-related costs for cooking and nutrition. 

The school needs funds for cooking classes," said Katy Elliott, Chair of the Board of the Arkansas Local Food Network and supporter of LRSD 21st CCLC programs. "I called Amanda at Bernice Gardens and we hatched the idea for these classes as a fundraiser. This is a good connection to support these activities for students.”

Angelia Johnson, Community Schools Coordinator for Washington Elementary, is serving as liaison between the school, ALFN and Bernice Garden.

“I’m excited to serve to the position to facilitate this support and make connections that benefit our students – the synchronicity and energy behind this project is a welcome part of our community school effort,” Johnson said.

On top of the restaurants directly participating in the classes, this fundraiser is being supported by the City of Little Rock, Epiphany Morrow, 806 Films, Christ Episcopal Church, Arkansas Natural Produce, Kornegay Berry Farm, Natural State Microgreens, several ALFN members and supporters, community volunteers, and all who join to make this fundraiser a success.

Tickets for participants and sponsors are both $40. Tickets for the April 15 event are available here. Follow them online for updates on the later events.