Bramell, Party of Five: My Escape to Moss Mountain Farm

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Escape to Moss Mountain Farm

Last week I did something very unusual:  I took a day off work to do something just for myself. I joined a group of bloggers from all over the state at Moss Mountain Farm, which happens to be the home of Arkansas's own P. Allen Smith, of gardening and kitchen fame. I was part of an invitation-only group to have a private tour of the beautiful home and sprawling acreage of flower, rose and vegetable gardens on the property. Even a little rain didn't dampen our fun!

The main house at Moss Mountain Farm was, in a word, charming. While there were tons of collections, art works and vintage furniture pieces in the house, everything felt like it belonged--even the giant print of Black Dog, the fierce Osage Indian warrior. Allen personally gave us the tour, and told us a lot of history of the artworks on display.

As I toured the home with Karen from Ting's Mom, we both had the same thoughts about it. First was that we could never let our children loose in that home. And second, wondering who has to dust the place (thankful it's not us!).
My favorite room in the home was the screened in "sleeping porch," as I'm sure it's where I'd spend most of my time if given the chance. The porch overlooks the backyard and down into the Arkansas River valley. It was just so peaceful and beautiful.

After our tour of the home and the grounds, we were treated to a delicious lunch and program presented by the staff from the Arkansas Gift Program, or the AR 529 plan as it's sometimes called.  Silly me, here I was thinking I was being selfish and taking a "me day" when I was really learning something that would actually benefit my children after all.
The 529 program is a college savings plan that is supported by the state. Anyone can enroll for the purpose of saving for college (not just for kids). You can start an account online anytime, and it only takes $25 to start and a minimum deposit of $10 per month after that. There are a few really neat things about the program. First, specifically for lower income families, the state will match your monthly contribution! So it works a little like a 401k in that way, but not everyone will qualify for the matching funds. Another cool feature of the program is that the funds can be transferred to other people. For example, if Child 1 gets a scholarship and doesn't use all the money in the account for college, then the parent can transfer the money to Child 2 for use with education costs. Brilliant! There are some tax deduction benefits for residents of Arkansas and a penalty if you withdraw the money for using for any purpose besides education costs. It seems to be a very easy, low-risk way to start saving for college.  And with three kiddos in my family, I'm going to look very seriously at setting up an account soon.

You can find all the info you need about the Arkansas 529 plan at, where you can also set up an account.

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