Josh’s Laughing Legacy

Josh Hardin always seems to be smiling. Maybe that is why he calls his farm Laughing Stock Farm. He is one of those people who you meet, and you just know they have found their calling. They are certain in who they are and what they are meant to do. John certainly knows.

His long-time customers at the Central Arkansas farmer’s markets look for his familiar face. It is this love of service that calls Josh to farm:

“I have been driven to farm by many people and beliefs. The most prominent moment has really been my connection to customers in the direct market atmosphere. From the first time I sold produce at market with my brother at the age of 14, I have been a market farmer. Since that summer, I have only missed one season of selling our family’s fruits and vegetables directly to the people that enjoy them. I am also driven by the family’s that take time to eat better tasting, better grown food. It is the demand for what we do that makes the job exciting so the more new customers and smiling faces the more excited I get about the tougher parts of the job.”

Farming may be a family tradition fro him, but even experienced farmers can be overwhelmed at times. And what are those tough parts of the job for Josh?

“The biggest challenge is taking on all of the roles at once and not really having the income to pay for the professional services you need like accountants, lawyers, mechanics, and therapists. Farming is all about finding creative ways to meet those same problems without all of the resources available and still find measured success. It is also a huge challenge to juggle family life and work, and the two are so co-mingled there is no line between the two worlds. In a family business, we expect each other to do a lot more than normal boss/employee relationships demand and that can make for lots of conflict.”

Josh is now working two farms, his Certified Organic farm in Sheridan, and a Certified Naturally Grown plot at the family farm in Grady. But change seems to be an ever-present factor in Josh’s farming career.

“Our farms are constantly evolving before our eyes every minute. Laughing Stock has more crop than we have ever had with about 5000 row feet of certified organic beds in production. It has taken me 9 years to clear forest, plant cover crops and build good soil, so this year is a real pinnacle for us. The farm is heavily focused on spring and early summer crops like onions, leeks, spring mix, kale, chard, fingerling potatoes, cauliflower, and head lettuces.

“Hardin Family Farm has also taken a great turn this year. We have a new high tunnel about to go into grafted heirloom tomatoes as well as an acre of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, and cucumbers all planted and growing nicely. We are planting green beans and pinto beans tomorrow so lots of organic and CNG food from both farms if we can keep the bugs and disease at bay!”

So next time you see Josh and that great smile, you will understand more about why farming is important to him. He is truly a farmer with heart and a farmer at heart.