New mission for St. Joseph's: Organic farming | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New mission for St. Joseph's: Organic farming

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 3:43 PM

V.L. Cox and Jody Hardin at St. Josephs
  • V.L. Cox and Jody Hardin at St. Joseph's

Farmer Jody Hardin, founder of Argenta Market and who was instrumental in getting the certified farmer’s market in operation in Argenta, is working with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas on a plan to create an organic farm and farming school in the old St. Joseph’s Orphanage on Camp Robinson Road.

The St. Joseph Center non-profit was created after the Catholic Diocese of Arkansas announced in 2008 it would sell the 70-acre property and the four-story, 80,000-square-foot Charles Thompson-designed orphanage unless someone could come up with a viable business plan. The board of directors of the non-profit had until Sept. 1 to come up with a plan for the property. Hardin’s recent appeal must have seemed heaven-sent. His idea, board chair Sandra DeCoursey said, was well matched to the Center’s board’s desires: to create something “sustainable” and to be “serving God and community.”

The St. Joseph’s farm/school would be developed along the model of the Intervale Center in Vermont, with the farm incubator, a bakery, a “food hub” where area farmers could converge to sell their product and a school offering a variety of courses, such as how to farm organically, grow certain foods, getting food to market and so forth.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance named the 1910 brick and stone orphanage to its Most Endangered Places List this year. Hardin, in consultation with architects Polk Stanley Wilcox, believes restoration of St. Joseph’s building for classroom space (and to house other non-profits) will cost $5 million to $7 million. The budget for the farm operation should be about $125,000 a year, he estimates. Hardin’s farm operation would be for-profit, and the educational component non-profit. The board would have to grant him a sublease to operate.

V.L. Cox, an artist with a background in both advertising and farming who is working with Hardin, said the idea would take St. Joseph’s back “to the way it was 100 years ago,” when the Benedictine Sisters farmed the land to provide for the children. There is a dairy on the property, and cattle roam St. Joseph’s pastures — within the city limits of North Little Rock. The kitchen, still in use for the groups who now come to St. Joseph’s on retreat, is spacious, as is a basement where the nuns once canned food, Cox said. Hardin does not plan to get into ranching. He may, however, use the cow pies in a demonstration in how to fertilize fields and hopes that a proposed zoning change goes through in North Little Rock that will allow him to raise goats and sell goat cheese. There is also pecan orchard on the property.

One of the first projects at St. Joseph’s, Hardin said, will be a demonstration by the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma on how to eradicate Bermuda grass organically by growing annual sorghum. But first, Hardin and Cox hope to grow a crop of vigorous grants and foundation gifts. A Kickstarter crowd-funding page will go online Friday, and Hardin and Cox will hold a press conference Tuesday to go into more detail on the plans for St. Joseph’s.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Third Friday in Argenta: Artwalking to see Southern landscapes and more

    Works by some of Arkansas's most distinguished artists, including the late Al Allen and Carroll Cloar, along with famed regionalist Thomas Hart Benton make up part of the offerings in "Southern Landscapes," a new exhibition at Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.) opening with the monthly Third Friday Argenta ArtWalk tonight.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • 'Sign of the Times': Political posters at CHARTS

    Hendrix College's Dr. Jay Barth will give a talk and sax player Dr. Barry McVinney and pianist Mark Binns will provide the music at tonight's opening of "The Sign of the Times: The Great American Political Poster" in the Windgate Gallery at UA Pulaski Tech's CHARTS (The Center for Humanities and Arts). The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • GiGi's opens with soul food and 'old school R and B vibe'

    GiGi’s Soul Cafe and Lounge at 10840 Maumelle Blvd., where the Nashville Rockin Grill was located, opened July 28 and co-owner Darrell Wyrick the restaurant is “bringing back the spirit of some of the places that have gone, like Porter’s and The Afterthought” with its soul food and “old school R and B vibe.”
    • Aug 16, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case

    Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.
    • Apr 15, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Police identify three dead in Birchwood

    Police have now released some details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. Court recordx indicate the suspect had a history of domestic violence.
  • Confederate memories of a Southern boy

    Confederate memories. How a Son of the South went wrong — or right, depending on your point of view.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation