Hometown: Center Hill, Ark.

In Town: J.L. Tillet is in his fourth year as a patrolman for the Searcy (Ark.) Police Department, and previously was a 911 dispatcher and an animal control officer for the city of Searcy. He is also a volunteer for the Center Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

“I look at all the great people I work with as heroes, but I don’t see myself as one. I’m just one guy in a world full of problems and hard times, just trying to help out and bring peace where I can,” J.L said.

Michelle is a graduate accounts manager at Harding University, and is now in her 11th year with the university she graduated from. The couple has been married for 29 years.

In town, you can find them at Fellowship Bible Church of Searcy, they are involved in two small groups as well as youth group activities there.

In the Country: The Tillett Family Homestead is a 2-acre farm located west of Searcy in the rural community of Center Hill. The couple and their and their youngest daughter, Emily, have called this place home since 2011.

You will find them homeschooling their Emily through high school, tending to chores in the garden or the animals, building furniture or remodeling their house, and enjoying the outdoors by grilling out, camping, fishing and photography.

The family has literally been putting down roots since they arrived, trying to build a homestead where future generations can come back and enjoy life for years to come.

An orchard has been started, including a variety of their favorite fruit trees and berry bushes. They enjoy growing a salsa garden with tomatoes, peppers and onions, as well as asparagus, okra, peas, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, squash, cucumbers and melons.

“We can, freeze and dehydrate all that our family can use, and give away as much or more to family and friends. Last year we began selling a few of the 70-plus jellies we put up just from our blackberries,” J.L. said.

They are considering the addition of a few milk or meat goats and possibly a hog or two, but right now they’re researching the possibility of starting a farmer’s market in Center Hill, which they believe will benefit all the small farms in the area.

“I’ve always tried to have a vegetable garden no matter where we lived at, but the past three years I’ve been doing a no-till, organic garden, using no pesticides and no harsh chemicals, in an effort to grow healthier more nutritious food. We have a small flock of six chickens that are great compost makers and also give us fresh eggs to eat. In my growing up years, we always had animals and a garden, but I think that is why I now find such peace in working with them,” J.L. said.


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