Photography by Sara Reeves | Shot on Location at Little Rock Urban Farming
During even a brief encounter with Chris Hiryak, his love for the Natural State is undeniable. His witty combination of ingenuity and tenacity has transformed a traditional yard into a lovely, lush oasis of gardens. He has literally planted his roots here. “Building a genuine community requires a holistic approach,” Chris explains. “We’re each just one piece of a larger complex puzzle that we must work together to assemble in order to leave a legacy that inspires future generations.” He’s recognized around town at neighborhood farmers markets for his work with Little Rock Urban Farming. Specializing in vegetables, flowers and herbs – he shares his passion for agriculture and the sustainability movement as chairman of the Urban Agriculture Committee of the Little Rock Sustainability Commission. Appointed to this leadership position by Mayor Stodola in 2009 – his vision for a brighter, more bountiful future continues.
Chris Hiryak admits he is “profoundly committed to conserving our state’s most precious natural resources.” Professionally and personally, he is certainly a testament to this ideal – the authenticity of his lifestyle and livelihood reflect these values and the inspiration he shares with his constituents. He lives on a urban organic farm with his wife Sally and their rescue dog Ruby Sue in the heart of Little Rock. He credits his childhood and family for these virtues. “From an early age, my dad taught me to respect nature and be grateful for its abundance,” he remembers.
Last year, he established The Southern Center for Agroecology – an organization dedicated to educating the community about sustainable food systems. Outreach includes a finite focus on supporting the local economy and promoting a healthy community with simple alternatives: growing, preserving and enjoying delicious food grown in Arkansas. “We like to engage our community in creative ways to increase awareness about our food system and to promote a vibrant food culture,” Chris explains.
The Spring Planting Festival showcases the core values of the SCA – hosting a series of workshops that highlight the fundamentals of gardening, composting, seed saving and planting for pollinators. A wide variety of heirloom vegetables, flowers and native plants are available for purchase, but it’s more than just a marketplace. “We hope we’re connecting like-minded residents throughout our community and cultivating a fresh perspective related to food production in our state.”