The Spencer Homestead

Holding a pair of loppers, wearing a sweater and a pair of overalls, a view that not many have had of him, Mr. Paul Spencer takes care of his crop. A darn Yankee from Ohio, he has gladly made himself part of Arkansas’s long and varied agricultural history.

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A few of Mr. Spencer’s beehives

Mr. Spencer lives in Scott, and owns several acres which he plans on expanding. He tends fruits, vegetables, pecan trees, chickens, and bees. Mr. Spencer did have some experience in farming prior to beginning his own farm. He said, “When I was a kid, my dad would hire me out to local farms, and we always had a pretty big garden. We canned tomatoes every year. We Italians like tomatoes.

“We planted the pecan trees just as a kind of college thing for the kids. Over the past three years, we’ve started to take things more seriously.”

Pecan trees, the main focus of his farm, can take ten years to produce a sizeable crop, and even longer to reach optimal pecan production. A tree normally produces between 50 and 200 pounds of pecans per harvest, depending on the age of the tree and environmental conditions; harvests usually occur every other year. Pecans bring from $6.00 per pound to $12.00 per pound, and in some cases even more, depending on the quality of the pecans, whether or not they are organically grown, and whether or not they have been shelled. Organic pecans, the type that Mr. Spencer produces, sell for the most, especially when they are shelled before sale, a fact which necessitates the future purchase of a mechanical shelling machine as the number of pecan trees increases on his farm. Mr. Spencer’s farm began as a financial investment, and grew from there.

The farm is an extra source of income to the social studies teacher’s salary, with its many rows of particularly spaced pecan trees, and a way to provide home-grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, and honey for his family. The Spencers eat what their land produces and use the process as a teaching tool. Mr. Spencer said, “I want my children to grow up having a better understanding of nature, where their food comes from, and how to work.”

“My wife is very supportive of the farm,” Mr. Spencer said. “She pretty much grew up in West Little Rock, and she didn’t really have much interaction with the country. I kind of brought her into that. The kids like the concept, but they don’t always like the work.”

Mr. Spencer also lists enjoying working the land as one of his reasons for creating his farm. He said, “I like being outside, and it’s good work. As you get older, you need physical work more than ever.

“I think everyone should start a garden,” Mr. Spencer said. “It helps you connect a little bit more with God’s creation, and food that you grow yourself always tastes the best.”

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