UACES Facebook ‘No potato left behind!’ the rallying cry for family salvaging garden crop
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‘No potato left behind!’ the rallying cry for family salvaging garden crop

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture


Fast Facts:

    • Flood prompts out-of-the-ordinary actions to save livestock, crops
    • Flood transforms agent into sheep wrangler, potato angler

(240 words)

(Other images available:

CONWAY, Ark. – In times of flood, farmers have to take extraordinary actions to salvage their crops. While flooding is serious business, this year’s high water had its lighter moments too.

FAMILY AFFAIR -- Leigh Helms, right, helps relatives pluck submerged potatoes from below Arkansas River flood water.  From left, Lauran Stewart, Hope Ison, Dorothy Milburn (in pink) and Helms. (Image courtesy Leigh Helms)

For one family in the Arkansas River Valley, saving the crop meant wading shin deep in the brown water and finger-squishing around the oozy mud for tubers.

“We – my relatives at the river –fished for potatoes and picked beans yesterday in the garden that was surrounded by the rising Arkansas River,” Leigh Helms, a Faulkner County Extension Agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said last Saturday.

“Our motto was ‘no potato left behind!’  That was until I about pulled up a baby snake.”

The owners, Danny and Dorothy Milburn, relatives of Helms, grow the garden for family use and share their vegetables with others throughout the community.

As the vegetables were plucked from their watery beds, the beans and red potatoes were loaded onto a flat-bottomed jon boat for transportation to dry ground.

Helms is no stranger to disaster recovery. In 2013, she, along with fellow Arkansas Extension Service colleagues helped provide hot meals for disaster aid workers following the deadly tornado at Moore, Oklahoma. Over the last few years, she and her local 4-H club members worked the cleanup efforts following tornadoes in 2011 and 2014 that devastated parts of her county, including the city of Vilonia.

And during this flood of 2015, Helms had already helped her neighbors move sheep trapped by the rising Arkansas River, an act captured by a Little Rock television crew. 

“I just helped where I saw a need,” she said. “I’m simply thankful my mini ranch is on high ground and that I have the opportunity to help others in need!”

For more information about disaster recovery, contact your county extension office or visit

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


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 Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126


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