March 12, 2002

For Immediate Release
Contact persons:  Bill Dailey (501) 315-7373, Tommy Butler (870) 547-2795
Email: purplehull@juno.com
Web site: www.purplehull.com /peas

Emerson Purple Hull Pea Seed Giveaway Next Week

   For anyone living within the Emerson School District, there’s no excuse not to plant purple hull peas this year.

   Thanks to donations by Lake Sue Nursery & Farm Supply of Magnolia, and Bunch Wholesale, Inc. (BWI) of Texarkana, the newly formed Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board has 200 pounds of purple hull seed to give away.

   It’s all part of a long-range plan to make Emerson-grown purple hulls a sought after commodity.  The seed giveaway is just the first step.

    “Hope has their watermelons, Alma has their spinach, Ruston has their peaches, but we have the best one of all, purple hull peas,” says Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board Executive Director Tommy Butler.

   Indeed, local residents around Emerson have long considered purple hull peas grown in the area’s sandy loam to be the best found anywhere.  Many natives spent summers during their early years with a bowl of fresh purple hulls on the dinner table during many, if not most, meals.

   “Most Emerson folks were raised on purple hulls and cornbread,” says Butler.  “Most of us remember eating purple hulls almost every day when we were growing up.”

   In fact, so beloved are the peas, that Emerson pays homage to these delicious pink-eyed lentils of summer by hosting the PurpleHull Pea Festival each year on the last weekend in June.

  We believe the world’s best purple hull peas are grown in the Emerson area,” added Butler.  “It’s time we take advantage of that fact.”

   But it’s a two-pronged process.  Markets need to be developed.  But so do growers.  At present, most peas come from small backyard gardens.  Significantly more production is needed.  Thus the seed giveaway.

   The board is requesting that, if possible, some of the resulting purple hull peas be available for sale at the PurpleHull Pea Festival, farmers’ markets, or elsewhere. 

   “Every year at the festival we have people come from long distances wanting to buy purple hull peas,” says festival spokesman Bill Dailey.  “There’s never enough.  An awful lot of money could be made if some of the locals would just raise enough peas and sell them at the festival.  There’s a ready-made market.”

   To help jump start the process, the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board was formed, and donations for seed were solicited.  The board has decided that, in order to be classified as “Emerson Purple Hull Peas,” they must be grown within 199 square mile area that currently defines the Emerson School District.

   The seed will be given away Wednesday, March 20, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Emerson Fire Department.  A total of two hundred pounds of seed are available.   To be eligible for the seed, the peas have to be planted within the confines of the Emerson School District.  There will be a limit of 3 pounds of seed per person, and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis until the supply is exhausted.

   “It’s sort of reverse from the normal course of events,” says Dailey.  “Usually a festival springs up from a local industry.  Here, we’re trying to start a local industry by capitalizing on the name recognition of a festival.”

   More information about the Emerson Purple Hull Pea Promotion Board can be obtained by going to a section of the PurpleHull Pea Festival’s Web site, www.purplehull.com/peas, by emailing purplehull@juno.com, or by phoning Executive Director Tommy Butler at (870) 547-2795.

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