The owners of Urban Roots Farm LLC have headed to the Natural State to become part of a new agriculture team organized by Green Circle Projects LLC.
Husband-and-wife Adam Millsap and Melissa Young-Millsap departed for Bentonville, Arkansas, in mid-December to develop Farm Team, a six-member group formed by Green Circle to help grow local food economies. The intent is to train and mentor future farmers to run urban farms at the Noble Hill landfill north of Springfield and at Red Barn, which Young-Millsap described as an “agrihood” – an agricultural neighborhood with townhouses and flats – currently under development in Bentonville.
“When Green Circle came to us with this opportunity, it was kind of a no-brainer,” she said.
The couple maintains ownership of their 8-year-old Urban Roots Farm in Springfield, 831 W. State St., and named Alyssa Hughes as its manager. Hughes has worked with the Millsaps since 2013, when she spent a year as an apprentice on the farm, a 1.7-acre West Central property that annually grows more than 110 vegetable varieties.
“I’ve learned a lot here and I was just looking for a next step as far as more responsibility, more of a decision-making role,” Hughes said. “So it worked out. But any major decisions I’m going to definitely consult with (the Millsaps).”
The operators said the change at Urban Roots was fortuitous timing, as winter is a slower period. It allowed the Millsaps time to move and get settled in Bentonville as they prepare to have Red Barn up and running in the spring.
“Everything, oddly enough, really fell into place,” Young-Millsap said. “So we’re really excited about that.”
But there was never a consideration of selling Urban Roots, she said.
“That was our initial passion project and we really want to see what will continue to develop there. We want to see what Urban Roots can continue to become,” she said. “Technically, it’s a pretty young farm.”
In 2017, the farm generated $70,000 in revenue, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Young-Millsap expects more for 2018, but final revenue figures were not available by press time.
Young-Millsap said building Urban Roots from scratch nearly a decade ago and training future farmers through their apprenticeship program – which has run 18-deep so far – was a version of some of the work they’ll pursue in creating an agrihood in Arkansas.
“Getting started as a new farmer in this day and age is very difficult,” she said. “There are not a lot of family farms being passed down.”
The Millsaps are tasked with designing and building an urban farm at Red Barn, Young-Millsap said, with the couple to ultimately train a permanent leader for the property. After their work at Red Barn is complete, they’ll likely transition to other Farm Team projects.
Green Circle Projects CEO Matt O’Reilly said the couple is joined in Bentonville by Mark Bray, a horticultural specialist, and Jonathan McArthur, former manager for a fruit and vegetable farm in Rogers, Arkansas, owned by the nonprofit Samaritan Community Center.
In Springfield, Mike and John Chiles, who are father and son, are leading the Noble Hill project, for which Green Circle and Farm Team submitted a proposal Nov. 30 to the city for its agricultural accelerator on more than 60 acres adjacent to the landfill. After a 90-day review, the city will choose whether to accept the proposal and then enter negotiations on costs and timelines.
O’Reilly declined to disclose the company’s investment in the two Farm Team projects or their budgets.
Red Barn, currently preleasing residential units for the spring, is expected to produce hundreds of pounds of produce per week, with the first harvest of vegetables expected for purchase in May. The development will have a greenhouse that stores thermal energy in the ground to temper conditions during warm and cool parts of the day.
The Farm Team has been in the company’s plans since June 2017, O’Reilly said, noting the Millsaps’ talents and expertise extend well beyond the boundaries of their own farm.
“This operation gives families like Adam and Mel’s the ability to take this extremely rare and valuable skill set they’ve developed and leverage it to create new farms,” he said.
Like the Millsaps, O’Reilly now calls Bentonville home, having lived there full-time since mid-2017. Springfield-based Green Circle currently employs around 10 in Bentonville, utilizing co-working space downtown, O’Reilly said. Upon completion of its two current major projects there, Red Barn and Crystal Flats, a mixed-use development under construction near Crystal Bridges Museum, he foresees expanding to 20 employees.
“The market there affords us the ability to be a little more experimental and a little more idealistic,” he said.
O’Reilly said Green Circle, which employs 30 companywide, has no intentions of leaving Springfield.
Likewise, Young-Millsap said she and her husband are maintaining their ties to the Queen City and will eagerly follow what Hughes has in store for Urban Roots.
“This was a good opportunity for us to make that natural next step but also continue our support and excitement for our hometown. We kind of shocked ourselves,” she said of moving to Arkansas. “The hardest part was leaving our amazing community.
“Now, we get to try and build a new one around the farm down here, which I think is going to be beautiful.”
Web Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
The Doula Foundation of Mid-America Inc. moved; Steve Albrecht opened Dr. Steve Albrecht Coaching Services; and Common Sleep LLC got its start.
Vineese Knight with the Massengale Group Of Keller Williams says when she was a young salesperson the biggest mistake she made was looking at people as numbers. She started experiencing real success when she made the mental shift to thinking of her customers as people and genuinely caring about their needs above her own.
Cody Ritter, owner of Base Construction & Management LLC, attributes the company's fast growth in part to keeping customers happy. Base Construction & Management LLC is one of the Springfield Business Journal 2019 Dynamic Dozen companies, recognizing the 12 fastest growing companies in the area.
"You are a leader," says Carrie Richardson, Executive Director of Leadership Springfield. She gives suggestions as to how you can develop your leadership skills.
Michael Wehreberg, Wehrenberg Design Company, discusses the shift in the last five years in web site design to mobile-first designs. Ultimately, you have to think of the human first and serve them with ease, and Google will give you credit for being mobile friendly.
Ömer Önder, owner of Springfield Diner, struggles with the process of renaming his restaurant. The process led by Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells, owners of the branding agency Longitude LLC. Ömer expresses all of the emotions he is going through as they work together to revise his seating, menu, hours, and a name to reflect those changes.
It is projected that 10,000 people in the United States will turn 65 years old everyday for 19 years, and non profits are going to be competing over the coming years in a fierce labor market. Give Five was developed as a civic matchmaking program to help connect capable retirees with charitable organizations that need help. Greg Burris outlines the problems the program addresses, opportunities for individuals and organizations, as well as how United Way of the Ozarks is licensing to the program to share with other communities.
Jamie Kinkeade noticed most of the women in her fitness classes at The Studio were wearing Lululemon. She knew her clients were driving to Kansas City to purchase the brand, so she approached the athletic apparel company to stock their merchandise in her store, The Movement. They said "no" at first because they were not looking to expand into the Springfield market, but her persistence paid off.
With more job openings than people to fill them, it is time for your company to evaluate how you are motivating and engaging your team to help you retain and attract the best talent. Sherry Coker, Executive Director at the OTC Center for Workforce Development, walks you through tangible and intangible incentives that encourage employee engagement, performance enhancement, and higher job satisfaction.
"When we first started we thought we could pretty much do this on our own," discloses Vera Gibbons with Baby Foot®. "We thought we knew what would be great...that's not really what happened." Gibbons recommends partnering with a strong marketing partner early and give them a budget.
With four generations in the workplace, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of how each approaches brainstorming can make all the difference in arriving at the best idea. Boomer Kay Logsdon, Director of Applications at CultureWaves, and self-described fossil Millennial Locke Hilderbrand share what their trends research at CultureWaves tells us about generational differences and tips on how to bridge the gaps. Generations in the Workplace is an ongoing multi-episode series tackling the issues of generational conflict.