home about us advertise with us subscribe to Jonesboro Occasions submit an event contact download the 2008 datebook
give a gift subscription

the truck patch and the stem and spoon cafe
by Shaila Creekmore, photo by Amy Long

Like many couples in small towns, Michael and Sarah Adler found it difficult to find foods that matched their healthy eating style. With the introduction of The Truck Patch to Jonesboro, the couple hopes to solve the problem themselves and perhaps help others who strive to eat a diet of clean, healthy foods.

Sarah, originally a Whole Foods shopper when living in Memphis, missed the convenience of a store geared toward eating healthy and felt frustrated when shopping in other stores after relocating to Mountain Home.

“I felt like when I was going into a conventional store, that it was a research project for me,” she said. “You read labels, and there are thousand letter words and you don’t know what it is.

“Clean, good quality food is not easy to find in smaller and medium-sized towns. We feel there is no reason why we can’t have good food, too.”

The Adlers began discussing starting their own business and researching options in opening their own food store.

“We wanted a place we could find good quality, clean food and we realized it was hard to find, so we created a place that people could count on for good quality food,” said Sarah.

In May 2010, the Adlers opened The Truck Patch Natural Market in Mountain Home. The store carries a large selection of organic fruits and vegetables, packaged organic products, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and dairy products, vegetarian and vegan options, vitamin and mineral supplements, beauty products and pet food.

Whenever available, The Truck Patch sells locally grown produce. During the summer the store carries lots of local tomatoes, peppers, squash and some greens and berries, said Michael. Although local produce is usually not organic, the Adlers try to assure each vendor’s farming practices line up with the store’s philosophy as much as possible.

“We do occasionally go out and visit the farms,” said Michael. “We have an open door policy for farmers here. If they have produce to sell, they just have to stop in and talk to us.”

Sarah said the name selection for the store came directly from the idea of small farmers and gardeners selling their produce.

“My grandma actually said, ‘The stuff we grew to sell in the truck patch,’” said Sarah. “I had heard the term before, but she told us about having their garden they grew to eat, but then they had another garden they called the truck patch, meaning that was the garden they grew to take and sell in town. I thought the name was perfect. Now people who aren’t familiar with the term might not understand it at first, but it doesn’t take long for them to catch on to the idea.”

After four years of successful business in Mountain Home, the Adlers began thinking of opening a second location.

“We get quite a few people from Jonesboro and Paragould who come to Mountain Home to vacation or they have homes there,” said Sarah. “We had a lot of people asking us to come to the (Jonesboro) area. We were somewhat familiar with Jonesboro and somewhat surprised that there wasn’t a similar store here in the area. … We were always fond of Jonesboro and had it in our mind that this area could use one.”

In early 2015, the couple began the process of opening their second location in Elk Park next to Outback Steakhouse. During six months of construction, three separate spaces were renovated to create a 10,000-square-foot space, and the kitchen was also reconstructed.

In October, the Adlers moved to Jonesboro along with their daughters, 3-year-old Lydia and 11-month-old Maggie. The store opened later that month and included a new venture for the Adlers – the creation of The Stem and Spoon, an in-store café.

“Customers in Mountain Home have always asked us to do an in-store café, but that store isn’t set up to allow us to do that,” said Sarah. “It’s a great way to utilize what we have here. It’s just cleaner-sourced food. It’s still really normal sandwiches and such, but just made with cleaner ingredients.”

With a menu created by Lily Hurst, the café’s manager, The Stem and Spoon gives customers tasty options for healthy meals for lunch and dinner that are available served in its seating area, to-go or called in for pickup.

With creative names like Torreyea, a sandwich with thinly sliced ham and salami, melted provolone cheese, roasted red pepper, onion and creamy pesto veganaise; Cottonwood, a thinly sliced ham sandwich with melted Swiss cheese topped with slices of pear and drizzled with Dijon; or Magnolia, a sandwich with fresh made cashew butter, sliced banana and drizzle of agave, customers are given meat and meat-less options.

“I named the menu items all after nature; they’re all the names of Arkansas trees, flowers and birds,” said Lily.

The café also has an organic greens bar where customers can build their own salads, and the olive bar is set to open this month. A variety of quick-grab options are available in the cooler, including five types of chicken salad. The menu includes a selection of coffees, teas and smoothies. The Stem and Spoon offers a daily soup selection, and the daily special is half a sandwich and bowl of soup for $8.99.

Lily said she is currently working to schedule community events to be held in the café, which she hopes to hold once a month.

“We’ll show a movie once a week; we want to bring in speakers and do some how-to, hands-on things,” said Lily.

The Truck Patch has 26 feet of organic cooler space, along with dry produce space. Michael said 99 percent of the produce the store carries is organic. There are more than 100 bulk food bins with various grains, flours, sugar, beans, lentils and popcorn.

“Of course, we have all sorts of dried fruit and all different kinds of granola,” he said. “And probably people’s favorite, the different confections. … We have staples plus some unique items.”

A large collection of Frontier Spices is available in bulk, as well as loose-leaf teas. Customers scoop out their own selection into small bags and write the number on the container on their bag to be checked out at the register. Organic and fair-trade coffee from Equal Exchange, J. Brooks in Memphis and The Mountain Bird in Eureka Springs are available ground or whole bean.

The Truck Patch carries almond, cashew and honey roasted peanut butter ground fresh, local honey by Nature’s Golden available bulk or jarred and bulk maple syrup.

The dairy case is loaded with hormone-free, antibiotic-free and organic milk in a variety of options, along with eggs, butter and cheese. Michael said they are currently looking for local egg suppliers and welcome those with chickens to come in with their extra egg supply.

In the meat department, The Truck Patch carries Nine Oaks Beef, chicken by Powhatan Farms and Pork from Praiseworthy Foods in Smithville. A selection of frozen seafood is also available.

The store has a large cooler full of sprouted bread, a popular item among customers. For fresh bread, The Truck Patch carries Fayetteville’s Stone Mill products.

The Truck Patch has a large selection of ready-made or more convenient products, including 16-dozen frozen food products. The shelves are lined with gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian foods such as chips, cereal, pasta and various snacks. A cooler stocked with exclusively vegan foods is located on the back wall of the store.

The Truck Patch, located at 906 Southwest Drive, is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Stem and Spoon is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 333-2977.