Long's Natural Farm

Dwayne and Karla Long aren’t just in the business of growing heirloom vegetables and raising pigs — they sow ideas, too.

The start of every growing season brings the promise of experimentation at Long’s Natural Farm.

Just yesterday, Dwayne brought home a few bright red shopping carts from a store that was going out of business. He wants to try growing potatoes in them.

Meanwhile Karla is tinkering with a creative, natural way to ward off pesky squash bugs in the summer: wrapping the base of each plant in tinfoil. “I know I’m going to kick and cuss and scream,” she says with a laugh that any gardener who has grown squash can understand. “I don’t know why I’m going to do it, but I am.”

Necessity is truly the mother of invention for the Longs, who’ve been married for 33 years. When they returned to their roots in southern Arkansas after Dwayne’s service in the Navy, Karla developed a food allergy that was made worse by processed foods. Realizing they’d need to drive two hours to find natural produce, the Longs decided to grow their own.

That led to a lightbulb moment: Their neighbors deserved access to the same options, so they set up shop at the farmers market. Now they have the only certified naturally grown farm in the region.

Being able to offer natural produce and pork to customers requires extra effort on the frontend, but that first bite into one of their juicy heirloom Bradley tomatoes — grown with seeds passed down by Karla’s grandfather — or thick-cut pork chops makes the Longs’ 5 a.m. wakeup call worth it.

“I’ve just never wanted to lie around in bed. I’ve got too many things on my mind that I want to do,” Dwayne says. “When I get to the end of my life, I might have a billion unfinished projects.”

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