Influential Arkansans 

We highlight more than 50 who shape our state.

Page 5 of 24

Thirty-four years ago, a couple of back-to-the-landers in search of cheap property and an ideal growing season found their way to Pope County. Sue and Rusty Nuffer, from Ohio and Michigan respectively, started an organic blueberry farm and began selling at farmer's markets and, later, online buying clubs. They now supply Little Rock restaurants The Root, Brave New Restaurant, ZaZa, Trio's, Twenty One, Terry's Finer Foods, Boulevard Bread and Ashley's. The Nuffers were also influential in the now disbanded Ozark Organic Growers Association, a co-op that helped Arkansas products reach a national market and, according to Sue, they were the first farmers to sell organic blueberries on a national scale. "There's more interest and demand in organic food now," said Sue, "but the heyday of organic farming was from about 1982 to 1993, because land was a lot cheaper then. But this is what we're dedicated to. We can't imagine putting chemicals on food or in the ground."

Tiny houses

In 2000 Scott Stewart, 38, of Mountain View, opened a pine mill in the same spot where his grandfather used to saw stays for whiskey stills and used the leftover lumber to build portable vacation cabins. A few years later, after the economy tanked and the small house movement fed by the 1997 book "The Not So Big House" and the need for shelter after Hurricane Katrina ballooned, Stewart began his Slabtown Customs tiny house business. The houses range in size from 160 to 300 square feet and cost from $14,000 to $30,000; he builds about 30 a year. All include the essentials — toilet, shower, kitchen appliances and sleeping lofts — and some a washer and dryer. Stewart's sold his houses as far away as Washington to clients ranging from college students to retirees. ("The most extreme was when a family of six moved into an 8 x 16 house with a 6-foot porch," 176 square feet, Stewart said.) He's even built a wheelchair-accessible tiny house.


It's been a momentous year for Warwick Sabin. As publisher of Oxford American magazine, he's weathered the storm following the firing of founding editor Marc Smirnoff for sexual harassment. He won the Democratic primary election for Arkansas House of Representatives, District 33, and he's running unopposed in the general election. He's been overseeing the start of South on Main, a project to put an Oxford American restaurant and public venue in the former home of Juanita's on South Main Street. South on Main will celebrate the South with an array of arts programming and a menu designed by a soon-to-be named accomplished chef. The venture, scheduled to open early next year, will put Sabin on the path to realizing a goal that's shared by forward-thinking publishers everywhere — to be more than a publication. "Cultural institution" is a term Sabin has used. When a reporter suggested 2013 — in his first year as a legislator, with a new OA editor in place and a new restaurant and venue open — could be his year, Sabin protested. "You're tempting fate."



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