St. Joseph Center of Arkansas

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.

2017 - 2018 Service Member


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.

2014 - 2015 Service Member

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.

2013 - 2014 Service Member

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.

Success Story

"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