Little Rock Urban Farming

Kyle Melton’s Bio

I have always been very inspired by those who seem to live life by loving what they do and by doing it well. Whether it was a passionate musician bearing his soul on stage, a spirited teacher standing in front of a reluctant class to see that spark show up in a few, or a dedicated father working 60+ hours a week to take care of the family that he loves so dearly, doing what they loved and doing it earnestly seemed to be what set them apart in my eyes. If you take a look at those who are a master of their craft, you will find that they work more than most while maintaining a vigor and love for life and what they do. I took note of this.

After high school I was all over the place, but as I had done since I was 16, I held a job no matter what I did. I bounced around from: college and a job, no college and two jobs, college and two jobs, no college and three jobs, and finally college and three jobs. My direction in college went from business, to social work and finally to nursing. My experience in work involved retail, food service, entrepreneurship, and management. That pattern lasted for around nine years and plateaued with the decision between my modest cleaning business of five years, furthering my management position at UAMS or utilizing my requirements to enter nursing school at UAMS.

I kept holding on to things because I had no idea what it was that I actually wanted. Despite the strong work ethic I had found, I never found anything fulfilling in any sort of real or lasting way, past the monetary gain. While wandering around this barren plateau, I found myself on, I moved in with my best friend Andrew Kenley at 811 N. Grant St. in Little Rock. This was inadvertently one of the best decisions that I ever made because it led to my friendship with Chris Hiryak, owner of Little Rock Urban Farming, and my apprenticeship at his adjacent organic farm. The decision to enter the apprenticeship was a bit unnerving and left me feeling vulnerable, considering it required me to abandon all other prospects I had spent years setting up. Through much contemplation, I knew deep down that I didn’t want to be stuck in what I perceived as the fluorescent tomb that was a hospital, as a manager or nurse, or cleaning up after people in their homes. In the end, it had to be the farm.

I knew I loved being outside. I knew I loved working with my hands. Never would I have imagined just how much. So began one of the most difficult and holistically fulfilling periods of my life. I had far less money than any other point in my adulthood and was arguably working harder than I ever had, but I could not have been happier. Every day of my life was spent outdoors on the farm and that became my “office with a view”. I also found myself looking at the way I lived my life in a much more simple, focused and sustainable way. A very strong sense of community and its importance was developed as well. These are the things I learned from the farm and they became very important to me. I wanted to protect this beautiful “office with a view” that I now had and I wanted it to stay my office for many years to come.

Hence, Natural State Horticare, which was born through an attempt to make some extra money by cutting grass on the side while working at LRUF. Quickly I realized it could be a way to keep me outdoors and so much more. It would allow me to bring my new found knowledge of gardening to people at their homes. I have hope it can empower others, the way it did me, and they can then share it with their children or people close to them. Most importantly, I want to protect the “office” and community in which I now work and live. That is why I decided, without pause, that every service I offer must be done organically and as sustainably as possible. So here I am in the present, working harder than I ever have, and am more satisfied than I have ever been. What can I say, I finally love what I do.

“You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth….. Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune. But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.…. Work is love made visible.” ~ Kahlil Gibran