Throughout the month of April, the Arkansas Local Food Network and Bernice Garden will host “Playing with Produce: A Family-Friendly Fundraiser,” a series of virtual cooking classes to raise funds for after school and summer cooking and nutrition classes for students at Washington Elementary (2700 S. Main St.).

Events will be held on Thursday nights in April from 6-7 p.m., a press release states. Tickets for each event are $40 and can be purchased here. You can also make a donation on the web page without buying a ticket.


Participants will receive a box of fresh ingredients and the Zoom link to join the live, virtual event. If you are unable to stream live, the event will be recorded and provided for on demand viewing. At each event, several recipes will be demonstrated to broaden dinner menus and incorporate fresh, local Arkansas ingredients.

Each week a different local restaurant will join in the fun and share tips, tricks and recipes.


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

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


The events bring together partners in the South Main area to meet a need for the students at Washington. 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.


Katy Elliott noted, “In my day job I work to support LRSD 21st CCLC programs and in my free time I serve as Chair of the Board of the Arkansas Local Food Network. The school needs funds for cooking classes. I called Amanda [Isbell] 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.” It just so happens that Amanda Isbell, Manager at Bernice Garden, offers online cooking classes and serves as a personal chef for several area households.


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.”


The growing list of community leaders and agencies lending support to this endeavor include the restaurants listed above; the City of Little Rock, who partners for community schools in LRSD; Epiphany Morrow, aka Big Piph for lending to the intro and outro for the Zoom event; 806 Films for event production/filming support; Christ Episcopal Church for lending facilities; Arkansas Natural Produce, Kornegay Berry Farm and Natural State Microgreens for donating locally grown products; several ALFN members and supporters who have lent donations to the effort; community volunteers and all who join to make this fundraiser a success.