StJosephCenter2017

St. Joseph Center is a former orphanage that has been a farm for over a century. It is a 60,000 square foot building that sits on 63 acres of prime pasture and farmland in the middle of the North Little Rock metropolitan area. While they no longer house children they hold events, retreats, and educational opportunities. These opportunities include lessons in nutrition, farming, livestock, gardening, and even history regarding the beautiful building and farm. It is run by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is preserve the beauty and integrity of the property but also to re-purpose this facility into a thriving agricultural attraction that will serve its surrounding community.

JohnMichaelByrd2017

John Michael Byrd

John Michael is born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is his third year farming and second year gardening. He has been working with GardenCorps for multiple years at 2 different sites. He is thrilled to be working with St. Joseph Center and their many gardens.

"Seeing members of the community on our land during Farm Fest was a great sight. Children were laughing, parents were learning, and everyone was having a great time. We were able to touch the lives of everyone who came, to show them that growing food really isn't that difficult if you put your mind to it, to explain to them why it is we're here and striving for a more holistic food system, and best of all to get to know them. Farm Fest was a true success. Next year will be even better."

- Kristen O'Connor, Farm and Food Innovation Center at St. Joseph Center Service Member

BIO - Kristen OConnor FFIC-SJF Standing in front of St Joseph Orphanage

Kristen O'Connor

Kristen O'Connor was born and raised just outside Memphis, TN. Upon arriving at the University of Memphis with honors, she did not wish to study one subject alone, but all of them with equal emphasis. After working towards a BS in Philosophy for three years, Kristen began to recognize the differences between institutionalized academic education and firsthand experiential education. She has since sought to blend both forms of education into a lifestyle of perpetual and purposeful learning, teaching, and doing.


Kristen and her companion packed up and traveled West in search of unique opportunities to explore the world and humanity's interaction with it. In 2013, they established their own environmental research and education non-profit, the Research & Environmental Alertness League. Through REAL, Kristen travelled through Arkansas and North Dakota to study hydraulic fracturing, Wisconsin to investigate silica mining, Washington to research the effects of Fukushima, and all the sates in between. Kristen's concentration on manmade environment devastations led her to an interest in land remediation and restoration, inspiring direct inquiry into various organic farming practices.


Her dedication as the Farm & Food Innovation Center's new GardenCorps Service Member at St. Joseph Farm is rooted in a deep desire to correct the damages humanity has inflicted on the planet and a belief that this can be accomplished. Kristen is also interested in learning and teaching others about health and diet, ancient methodology, sustainability, and responsible use of technology. And so her journey continues.

stjoseph

St. Joseph Farm, a tenant partner of St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, is a living example of a diversified sustainable agriculture enterprise that provides education, community outreach, and hunger relief.


We educate by providing opportunities for socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers through a living learning laboratory and mentor-support network for marketing and production. We also have programs for youth to teach them where their food comes from and to teach them how to grow and prepare healthy foods. The general public will have opportunities to see and interact with a small-scale sustainable farm.


We build community by giving at-risk youth and adults an opportunity for a wholesome, healing environment by allowing them opportunities to engage in both production and marketing of products they've grown and made themselves (farmers market stands, for example). We hold frequent events to both educate the public about the importance of a vibrant local food system and the value of sustainable agriculture. Events bring people from the community together to increase neighborhood ties, and they will also raise funds for the operations and programming of SJF and St. Joseph Center of Arkansas (SJCA).


Saint Joseph Farm is also a site for extension agents, nonprofit organizations, and other entities looking for locations to teach sustainable agriculture and other mission-related subjects.
Finally, we feed our neighbors. Volunteers from all walks of life have the opportunity to contribute to producing food that will not only be sold to sustain SJF and SJCA through agricultural sales, but also help to grow healthy foods that are provided to diverse local food banks to help feed the hungry in our own community.

Ben Maddox

Ben grew up in Arkansas and began gardening while attending the University of Central Arkansas, where he helped maintain the campus garden. This introduction to organic gardening inspired him to take several farming internships over the following years. After graduating, Ben traveled around the country and completed two AmeriCorps service terms before returning home to Little Rock to work for GardenCorps. He is serving at the Fit 2 Live Community Garden at St. Joseph's Farm in North Little Rock. At St. Joseph's Ben is working to maintain the community garden plots while also beginning work on a 10 acre food forest adjacent to the gardens.

stjoseph

Wednesday the 13th. .