St. Joseph Farm and Education Center in North Little Rock

Jody Hardin leads a tour of St. Joseph Farm. Photo by Z. Clift.

Jody Hardin leads a tour of St. Joseph Farm. Photo by Z. Clift.

This week, I attended a press tour of a proposed organic farm and farming school in North Little Rock. Plans are in the works to transform the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock into an agricultural, arts, and education center called St. Joseph Farm.

Local farmer Jody Hardin is at the helm of the vision, which focuses on restoring the century-old 56,000 sq. ft. landmark and the 63 pastoral acres found on the grounds.

Jody Hardin explains details and plans for the St. Joseph Farm and Education Center. Photo by Z. Clift.

Jody Hardin explains plans for the St. Joseph Farm and Education Center. Photo by Z. Clift.

Hardin, who is from Grady, said plans center on sustainable agriculture, community outreach and feeding the hungry.  He wanted the center to be a ‘community food hub.’

“I intend to make our endeavors here accessible to the community so that anyone who is personally interested in learning more about agriculture or teaching their children about agriculture in this area will have the opportunity to see for themselves how a farm works,” he said.

During the press conference, Hardin showed a proposed map for the grounds which included outlines for a Goat Dairy and Barn, a Market Garden, a Food Forest, and a Vineyard and Orchard.

For five years he was vending at farmer’s markets and had many people come up to him to say there was a beautiful farm in North Little Rock waiting for the right plan. Around 4 months ago the timing became right and they pulled together a team and leased the land for 50 years.

Plans are to grow vegetables and fruit and bring livestock to the land. They also want to use the currently empty rooms and kitchens as a place to educate people on sustainable organic farming, cooking, and more. St. Joseph Art Studios are being developed on site too along with a gallery.

Plans are in the works to transform the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock into an agricultural, arts, and education center called St. Joseph Farm. Photo by Z. Clift.

Plans are in the works to transform the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock into an agricultural, arts, and education center called St. Joseph Farm. Photo by Z. Clift.

As to a bit of history, St. Joseph Orphanage was commissioned by Bishop John Baptist Morris in 1908 to house and care for orphaned children. Architect Charles Thompson designed the 56,000 sq. ft. home atop a hill as a beacon of hope that served the North Little Rock and Little Rock communities for almost a century. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.The orphanage operated until 1978, then the building served as a day care and retreat center for many years. At one point during its operation, the sisters and volunteers  maintained an extensive farm, rose garden, and fruit orchard and raised Holstein cows and hogs on the property.  In 2007, the last two nuns returned to their mother-house, St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith.

The St. Joseph Farm and Education Center will be located at 6800 Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock. More details can be found at www.stjospehfarm.com.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in agritourism, Family, Travel Arkansas
11 comments on “St. Joseph Farm and Education Center in North Little Rock
  1. Peggy Roberson says:

    Love love love this! How do we contact to be involved?

  2. Peggy Roberson says:

    Love love love this! How do we contact to be involved? http://www.stjosephfarm.com does not work

  3. Diane Harper says:

    I am one of the artists on the fourth floor of this magnificent building. The farm and arts projects are visionary! Its so good to be on the “ground floor” of such an endeavor. Thank you Sandy, Lynette, Jody, and all who have made this artist’s dream come true!

  4. A.J. Schultz says:

    I went there as a child during the summer when I lived in town. When I turned 16 I moved to the country. How can I get involved?

  5. Jen Steck says:

    I keep getting an error when I try to email the address you left Zoie. Just letting you know. Of course it could me me messing up. :)

  6. Angie Lasiter says:

    Awesome!!!!!!!!

  7. Zoie Clift says:

    Hi Jen–Thanks for letting me know. You might want to try: sjosephfarm@gmail.com. Take care and thanks again for your message~Zoie

  8. Faye Graham says:

    Every time I try to access the website for more information, I’m taken to a blog site powered by WordPress…how do I get to the St. Joseph Home Farm website??

Add a Comment

*

Photo Of The Day
nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image nivo slider image
More Photos