See Sustainable Farming in action at St. Joseph Center

St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph Center

To describe St. Joseph Center of Arkansas in North Little Rock to someone who has never been, St. Joseph Farm Stand manager Michelle Martin-Shellebarger says one word: "Peacefulness."

"I have teenagers, a 24 year-old, and a 7 year-old who is out here all the time with us, "Michelle says. "It's a beautiful place where kids can just run and be kids."

Inside the greenhouse

Tranquility and beauty are the first impression, immediately followed by a sense of purpose, due to the can-do attitude and positivity of St. Joseph's devoted volunteers. St. Joseph Center of Arkansas is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with an emphasis on sustainable farming: it raises animals and grows produce; sells the products through St. Joseph Farm Stand and uses the proceeds to maintain the 56,000-square-foot St. Joseph Center building and surround 63 acres. The whole operation is volunteer-run.

Tranquility and beauty are the first impression.

St. Joseph Farm Stand, a seasonal farm stand at the rear of the main building, supports more than 20 Arkansas businesses and farms every week. Carrying only Arkansas-made products and produce, the farm stand features local honey, pickles, relish, vegetables, herbs, salsa, breads, spices, extracts, baked goods, fruits, flowers, pasta, jellies and jams, soaps and seedlings. Several items are grown or made at St. Joseph Center.

Arkansas-made products and produce are available at the Farm Stand.

One of the best experiences of visiting St. Joseph Center is seeing the animals, including goats, chickens, ducks, cows, sheep and even bees (from a safe distance, of course).

"My husband Scott and I started volunteering about three years ago. It all started with goats," Michelle laughs. "We couldn't have pet goats, so we became Animal Ambassadors to care for the goats at St. Joseph."

St. Joseph Center keeps many animals.

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, manager Michelle and her husband Scott became more involved than ever before to keep the farm stand going.

"Sandy DeCoursey, our director, and our family wanted to keep the farm stand operation small during COVID," Michelle explains. "I started managing the farm stand. Scott is in IT, so he set up the online shopping for us. That's been going very well. Especially since we couldn't do our annual fundraiser, so the farm stand was St. Joseph's only source of income." 

The online market allows customers to pick up curbside on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. One perk of ordering online is customers can see what is available and reserve what they need before arriving. 

The online market allows customers to pick up curbside.

St. Joseph is becoming an Arkansas agritourism destination where people can learn and experience all aspects of a sustainable farming and food production program. Come for the peaceful atmosphere, stay for the hands-on experience.

Ways to Get Involved