Apple Seeds is a non-profit organization based in Fayetteville, AR that works to educate and excite children about healthy food while increasing access to healthy food in schools. In 2014, we broke ground on a new Teaching Farm where we host workshops, field trips, and grow produce for students in Northwest Arkansas. Our Garden Corps Service Members garden under the guidance of an organic farmer and assist in educational field trips and school garden markets. Through our Plant to Plate Program, Apple Seeds partners with schools and community organizations to establish activities that serve students and their families, such as gardening clubs, school garden education, farm field trips, student-run farmers markets, and healthy snack classes. These hands-on, educational programs empower students with skills to grow their own food, inspiring them to make healthy food choices that positively impact their lives.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Willa Thomason

Willa has lived in Arkansas most of her life, and recently began her farming journey as an intern at Foundation Farm and Sycamore Bend Farm in Eureka Springs. Prior to her foray into agriculture, Willa spent 27 months in Western Samoa teaching primary-level English literacy with the Peace Corps. There, she was able to experience life aware of and integrated with the natural world. Samoans' knowledge of and respect for native plants and crops, as well as their passion for food inspired Willa to try her hand at organic farming. Willa is ecstatic to be serving with Apple Seeds. When she is not playing in the dirt, Willa enjoys running, playing cello and guitar, making plant medicine, and cooking.

2016 - 2017 Service Member

Jackson Wells

A recent intern at Dripping Springs Garden in Huntsville, AR, Jackson definitely got his hands dirty transplanting, prepping beds, setting up drip irrigation, and sowing thousands of seeds in the greenhouse. But before his internship at Dripping Springs, Jackson worked for Heifer International at their educational farm in Rutland, MA where he worked closely with cattle, poultry, goats and even some exotic animals. While at Heifer, he led educational programs on agricultural sustainability, world hunger and poverty. And before that he managed a small educational garden at Ferncliff Camp in Little Rock where he showed his campers the ins and outs of where their food comes from. So, soil is in his genes and jeans, literally! When he's not playing in the dirt you can find him helping out at Summer Kitchen Family Farm, backpacking, exploring the Ozarks, and pickin' on his banjo.

2015 - 2016 Service Members

Ryan Dunn

Ryan has been gardening in Arkansas since 2010, first as an intern with Dripping Springs Garden near Fayetteville, and later starting his own urban market garden in Little Rock from 2011 to 2014. Love of the outdoors and community led him to pursue sustainable agriculture after studying comparative religions and art in college. He makes and sells pottery. This is his second year serving with Arkansas GardenCorps at Apple Seeds in Fayetteville.

Joshua Simmons

Josh is originally from Magnolia, Arkansas, but has lived all over Arkansas.  He has a passion for cooking and food and is happy to be learning more about how to actually grow it.

Brett Williams

Brett is entering her third year as an AmeriCorps Service Member. She started her service in Boston, Massachusets, working for a organization that mobilized corporate and individual volunteers. Last year She joined Apple Seeds as the Farm Program Coordinator. She developed and executed the first ever Farm Lab field trips which brought elementary students from around Northwest Arkansas to the new Teaching Farm. Brett has decided to continue her service with Apple Seeds, this time as an Arkansas GardenCorps Service Member. She is excited to be more hands on in the garden while continuing to educate and excite students about eating healthy and trying new things. Brett likes baking, hiking, painting, the music of Fleetwood Mac, and silly people.

2014 - 2015 Service Member

Ryan Dunn

Ryan has been gardening in Arkansas since 2010, first as an intern with Dripping Springs Garden near Fayetteville, and later starting his own urban market garden in Little Rock from 2011 to 2014. Love of the outdoors and community led him to pursue sustainable agriculture after studying comparative religions and art in college. He makes and sells pottery. This is his second year serving with Arkansas GardenCorps at Apple Seeds in Fayetteville.

Success Story

"We have a neighbor near the Teaching Farm that is an avid gardener and has shared with us some produce from her garden from time to time. I delivered extra cucumbers from our garden to her son, and was surprised a few days later with a large squash from her garden to return the favor!"

- James Ryan Dunn, Apple Seeds Service Member

"I had a second grade student excitedly tell me that it was his first time to ever "cook" as we prepared our own snack during Farm Lab. I believe these experiences begin to build the confidence that students need so that they can be more independent in eating and making smarter, healthier snack choices."

- Brett Williams, Apple Seeds Service Member

"The students at the Bayarri school markets are quite apprehensive when it comes to trying new things but seeing them taste the samples and even enjoying them always puts a smile on my face."

- Kendra Johnson, Apple Seeds Service Member

The Arkansas Children's Hospital Community Garden is a collaborative effort of Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH), Arkansas Children's Research Institute's Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program, Arkansas GardenCorps, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the National Park Service Little Rock Central High Historic Site. Since Fall 2015, the 4000 square foot garden has brought together community members and produced vegetables for neighbors as well as Helping Hands of Greater Little Rock, a food pantry that serves thousands of families in Central Arkansas. Plans for the 2016-2017 service year include a doubling of the size of the garden and a greater effort towards community engagement.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Ben Pope

Ben Pope started gardening in 2005 when he became concerned with food security. Originally from Memphis, he received a BA in English from the University of Memphis and pursued a career as a technical writer while completing an MA in History. He is excited to continue his service with GardenCorps for a second year.

2016 - 2017 Service Member

Ben Pope

Ben Pope started gardening in 2005 when he became concerned with food security. Originally from Memphis, he received a BA in English from the University of Memphis and pursued a career as a technical writer while completing an MA in History. He is excited to have the opportunity to serve with GardenCorps, fulfilling his lifelong desire to participate in a national service program. After his service year, he plans to continue with his interest in community engagement through fostering local democratic structures and incubating cooperative businesses.

2015 - 2016 Service Members

Jimmy Parks

Jimmy is a nurse with a doctorate in public health who manages an urban farm in North Little Rock. He is interested in population health, student-based education, community development, and quality improvement through system redesign using reflective practice, dialogue, and qualitative research methods that are participatory, practice-based and community-based.

Acadia Roher

Acadia hails from Little Rock, Arkansas and is proud to be a committed active member of her home community. She works with several food security and access projects in Central Little Rock neighborhoods. The majority of her academic and professional work centers on community and civic engagement. She is also a community organizer with Little Rock Collective Liberation and other social justice groups.

Success Stories

"This month we donated sweet potatoes to some individuals at a homeless camp. We also gave local veggies to several people who live in the neighborhood around the 12th and Peyton garden."

- Jimmy Parks, Arkansas Children's Hospital Promise Neighborhood Gardens Service Member

"Getting the Promise Garden in shape this month has felt really good and it is very much appreciated by both the Young Adult Opportunity Center staff who work on the site every day as well as those in the neighborhood who come by to volunteer, harvest produce, or just to chat. Seeing the garden look sharp has also improved morale among the core group of volunteers who are excited more than ever about being in the garden and hosting events there."

- Acadia Roher, Arkansas Children's Hospital Promise Neighborhood Gardens Service Member

Camp Mitchell is a summer camp, retreat and conference center that is run by the Episcopal Church, but is open to people of any or no faith. With the help of our GardenCorps member, our community will be exploring our place in the ecosystem through participation in producing our own food. In addition to helping us care for the farm, our GardenCorps member will walk with our summer campers and visitors as they experience the gardens: touching dirt, looking for bugs, feeding chickens, learning what a potato plant looks like, and finding connections between us all.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Claire Vogelgesang 

Claire Vogelgesang was born in Arkansas, and earned a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from Hendrix College. She has been involved in garden programs and has been passionate about environmental issues since childhood, including projects such as filming documentaries, assisting with the running of local community gardens, and working in hunger relief. This is Claire's second term with the Arkansas GardenCorps, and she is excited to continue to work in food justice and forming community around food in Arkansas.

2014-2015 Service Member

Tristan Odekirk

Tristan grew up in Little Rock with two older brothers. His favorite pass time was exploring various over-grown wilderness spots in the Little Rock city limits, which instilled a love of nature and exploration. He studied math and physics at the University of Central Arkansas because of the challenge and exploration these subjects offered through rigorous analysis. Tristan also has an interest in public service and would like to direct his focus on community endeavors. Arkansas Garden Corps serves as an ideal means of exploring all of these interests. Tristan’s current plans involve applying to graduate school in engineering with an emphasis towards community development/organization practices. His other interests include education, agriculture, geology, music, and art.

Success Story

"Possibly my favorite moment this month was seeing a twelve year old girl lift a sledge hammer and smash rocks for the foundation of our cobb shed. During the youth retreat she was the only youth who signed up to work with the gardens in the afternoon. She began work by saying, "I like the country and working in the farm. It makes me feel different." Since it was only the girl, one of the cabin chaperones, and myself working, I decided to do something more interesting, which led to us teaching the girl how to use the sledgehammer using proper posture and safety gear. She ended the day after destroying ten large stones and left eager to brag about being small but powerful."

- Tristan Odekirk, Camp Mitchell Camp and Retreat Center Service Member

Cobblestone's Mission is to help address hunger by growing fresh local produce for the community.  Cobblestone Farm is a non-profit vegetable farm located in Fayetteville, AR. This farm works to increase access to healthy foods through produce donations to local food pantries and homeless shelters, sales at farmers' markets, and cooking classes for children.

Cobblestone Farm has paired with Brightwater to create an amazing greenhouse. 50% of its harvest is donated to hunger relief and the other 50% towards the culinary institute.
To learn more visit www.thecobblestoneproject.org

2017 - 2018 Service Members

Nena Evans

Since she was a small child, Nena has had a passion for growing nutritious food. She believes that local agriculture has the power to change the world, both on a micro and macro level. She has served with Arkansas GardenCorps for two terms in the past and believes in the mission.

Casey Smith

Casey is a Fayetteville, Arkansas native with 2 years of organic foods management & distribution experience. His growing passion for holistic living, sustainability, and serving those in need led him to pursue ARGC as a first year Service Member. When he's not growing produce you can find him adventuring the Ozarks, practicing martial arts, and spending time with his loved ones. He plans to deepen his roots within his community by teaching the path of a healthier lifestyle for our planet and its inhabitants.

The Dunbar Garden was founded in 1992. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and two acre outdoor classroom. The garden's mission is to preserve the relationship between education and the natural world by providing hands-on, outdoor learning activities to students, teenagers, and adults. One key focus is teaching children the origin of the foods they eat. There are over 150 hands on gardening and environmental education classes taught at the garden each year. Dunbar serves students attending the nearby Gibbs International Magnet Elementary School and Dunbar Magnet Middle School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The garden functions as an innovative public/private partnership between Little Rock Parks and Recreation, Dunbar Community Garden, Inc., and teachers at Gibbs Elementary and Dunbar Middle School.  

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Audrey Long

Audrey is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas who's been influenced by the gentle life of the southern city/town growing up. She grew up endlessly curious about how the world around her worked and had early exposure to a range of social philosophies. This led her to study Social Sciences at the University of Bridgeport, a small New England school. She continued a love for life-long learning through work experiences in Business Development, IT Project Management and later in Production Management at Amazon.  Every week, she was charged to develop operations improvement projects to save processing time or money, or make operations safer for her team.  That's where the Japanese principal of "Kaisen" or "continuous improvement" was instilled in her as a way of life. 

Now she applies those principals to encourage gardening and healthy living with anyone courageous enough to listen, coordinating weekly Yoga sessions with a group in her hometown, feeding an interest in permaculture and all topics involving sustainable living, and sometimes working on fulfilling her fantasy of someday being a scratch golfer.

2016 - 2017 Service Members

Ethan Clarkson

Ethan apprenticed on a WWOOF farm in Elberton, GA for 2 seasons, and started/managed a (different) community garden in Little Rock called 'Plan-It! Earth Garden'. He worked on an organic Arkansas okra farm and an orchard up on Star Mountain, AR as well. Ethan believes he is a garden dork to the core.

Kayla Baker

Kayla is from Eudora, AR, a small town in the southeast corner of Arkansas. While completing her service year with City Year, 2015- 2016, she noticed a need for educating the youth in her community about nutrition. She is looking forward to continuing to serve.

2015 - 2016 Service Member

Katy Lydon

Katy was born and raised in Indialantic, Florida with her parents and two sisters. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she received a BA in Anthropology and History in 2011. The summer before her senior year of college she began volunteering on a small organic farm called Our Community Farm Project. The farm provided a nearby community of refugees from Burundi with a direct link to their food source, a means to earn a supplemental income, and a way to maintain their culture. Her first gardening experience with Our Community Farm Project, and more recently on farms in Little Rock as well as other parts of the country, have shaped her views regarding food security and community. She believes that through garden-based education we can begin to create a connected, sustainable food system that improves access to healthy and affordable food.

2013 - 2014 Service Member

Ariel Aaronson-Eves

Growing up in the Garden State, Ariel Aaronson-Eves was first exposed to gardening and composting by her parents, but it wasn't until she started exploring issues of global injustice in her early twenties that she realized how important these practices are. She began working for farmers, first through organizations that support small farmers, globally, and then directly on their farms. In January 2011, Ariel moved to Arkansas to be an education volunteer at Heifer International's Learning Center at Heifer Ranch, where she fell in love with farming and Arkansas. For the past two years she has been farming and gardening in both central and northwest Arkansas. She is excited to bring the skills she has acquired to Dunbar Garden, and for the opportunities it provides her with to help plants and people grow.

2012 - 2013 Service Member

Susan Alman

Susan was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She graduated from Hendrix College in 2007 with a BA in studio art with an emphasis in black and white film photography.  She didn’t become interested in farming/gardening until after her time at Hendrix, but she has been informally educating herself on the subject for the past four years.  She believes that every person has a right to healthy, nutritious food options and that the importance of knowing how food grows and where food comes from is invaluable.

Website

The Fit 2 Live initiative was created in 2009 by the City of North Little Rock and the North Little Rock School District. Its mission is to create environments in the city that support healthy eating and active living. Since gardening supports this mission, the Fit 2 Live community garden program was started in 2011 to incentivize and assist the creation of gardens across North Little Rock (NLR). Currently, one in three NLR school children suffer from overweight or obesity and all of our lower-income neighborhoods lack access to convenient, affordable fruits and vegetables. The community garden program provides access to fresh, locally-grown produce and nutrition education opportunities among community citizens.

Partner organizations include the Pulaski County Extension Service, The People Tree (a local community service organization), churches, neighborhood associations, and community development corporations.

Fit 2 Live began the 2015-2016 year with 24 community gardens; projects are based at schools, community groups, or faith-based organizations throughout NLR. GardenCorps members support garden participants and the entire City of NLR to fulfill North Little Rock's vision to be a truly "Fit 2 Live" community, committed to healthy eating and active living. 

2017 - 2018 Service Members

Jewel Coleman

Jewel is from Detroit, Michigan.  She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a psychology degree, but ended up falling in love with plants and their medicinal benefits.  She always had an interest in nutrition due to her many allergies and became empowered from growing her own food and making her own meals.  She's become inspired to help empo

Feed Communities is an incorporated 501(c)(3) organization founded with the vision of supporting and expanding local food systems as a means of cultivating durable solutions for food insecurity.  

We work with individuals, organizations, local government and foundations to create sustainable partnerships for increasing access to healthy foods. We facilitate food system efficiencies by preventing the duplication of similar services, supporting our program partners who are already doing great work and then identifying potential program partners to fill in any gaps as needed.

The Samaritan Community Center is a nonprofit community service organization that has become a vital resource to Northwest Arkansas neighbors experiencing economic, emotional and spiritual distress.

On any given day the waiting rooms in our Springdale and Rogers centers are filled to capacity with clients - young and old, employed and unemployed, healthy and sick, married and single - many of whom have never before asked for personal assistance. Through our lunch cafes, food markets, resale stores, health clinic and kids programs, our staff and volunteers freely give unconditional love and assistance to anyone who walks through our doors.

For many who visit our centers, the most important thing offered is hope - something that is as individual as the clients we serve. For some hope comes in the form of a hot meal, or having a snackpack of food handed to them as they leave school each Friday, or sacks of groceries to help fill empty cupboards. For others it's a smile and a hug. And for many of our clients, hope is simply spending time in an environment where they are not judged but are loved and helped unconditionally.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Bethany Douglas

Bethany was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio.  She received a bachelors degree in English from a small state school in Ohio in 2015.  She joined Arkansas GardenCorps while living in San Diego and moved to serve with this organization. Bethany is excited to become more acquainted with gardening and nonprofit organizations.

2013-2014 Service Member

Jonathan McArthur

With his background in Horticulture from the University of Arkansas, Jonathan McArthur is seeking to establish a garden for the Samaritan Community Center in Rogers, Arkansas. The garden is intended to further the sustainability initiatives of both the SCC and Feeding Communities. Jonathan believes locally grown produce can encompass all forms of sustainability. Not only does he plan to involve volunteers, but also hopes to empower people to garden, to impart beneficial knowledge and to bring together individuals from different backgrounds that share a common desire.

Websites

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

Tri Cycle Farms' mission is to grow community through soil as we steward food awareness, education, and empowerment. They envision a world with food security, sovereignty, and sustainability for all.

2017 - 2018 Service Members

Peter Marston

Peter is from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and has been gardening since his childhood. An Arkansas alum from the 2015-2016 service term, he returned to Tri Cycle because he is committed to promoting permaculture in Northwest Arkansas. He is a yoga instructor, massage therapist, and is passionate about ultra-running and medicinal herbs.

2016 - 2017 Service Member

Meg Staires

Meg Staires is the oldest of seven kids, born in Northeastern Oklahoma and raised on a family-run summer camp in Osage County. Her experience as part of a large family living in the country instilled a creativity born out of necessity; she is always trying to figure out how to make things with the simplest tools and ingredients. Meg is trained as a midwife, and sees access to nutrition as being a cornerstone of women's health during pregnancy and beyond. She envisions helping build a community where women and their families have access to the food and medical care that they need, regardless of their income, race, religion, gender,  sexual orientation, or education level.

2014-2015 Service Members

Emily Deitchler

Two of Emily's first true loves were the Ozarks and good food, which have motivated many of her adventures over the last 23 years and eventually led her to her latest love, Tri Cycle Farms. Emily grew up outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where she played in the woods and garden, chased deer out of the compost, and experimented in the kitchen. She went on to study Biology and Environmental Studies at Hendrix College, where her perspective on environmental and food security issues was both broadened and deepened. She decided to pursue sustainable community development, and is excited to continue learning and teaching in the garden while striving to grow and strengthen community at Tri Cycle Farms.

Lindi Phillips

Lindi is a local girl who is joining the Tri Cycle team after completing a 2.5-year apprenticeship with a licensed midwife, where she learned not only about catching babies but also about issues of food access and nutrition in the pre- and postnatal context. She became interested in small farming after reading entirely too much Wendell Berry and experimenting on her own 3.5-acre homestead in Prairie Grove. Lindi has a background in international community development work, living for extended periods in both Central America and Eastern Tibet. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Arkansas in 2013. She has a 3-year-old son who loves fishing and digging in the dirt, and her husband of 7 years is a teacher, writer, and advocate who works on human rights, cultural and political history, and pop culture. He received his PhD from the University of Arkansas in 2013. Lindi hopes to draw parents of young children into the farm's fold, further develop children's programs, help grow the Crossroads Farmers Market, and generally get her hands good and dirty in this wonderful Arkansas soil.

Suzanne Shaver

Suzanne is a nature lover who spends most of her time outside whether working or relaxing. She is interested in building soil and believes that sustainable farming and local food are an important part of repairing the planet and building community. Originally from Virginia, she moved to Arkansas about a year ago to live on a small homestead and manage a market garden and a flock of chickens. Her educational background is in social work and permaculture, and she hopes to help teach people to feel a stronger connection to the earth and to walk a gentler path. In her free time she makes soap and herbal tinctures, takes walks, reads, and enjoys time with her friends, family, and cat.

Lyndsay McGee

Lyndsay McGee moved to Fayetteville in the fall of 2010 to attend the University of Arkansas where she majored in Geography with an emphasis on Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). After receiving her BA she decided to continue her education and pursue a MA in Geography with the goal to have it completed by the winter of 2015. Her love for nature and the outdoors morphed over the years of her education into a deep curiosity of the processes at work on our planet (social, political, environmental, etc.) and how we, as a community, in turn foster these processes. Experimentation over the years with her own patio and backyard garden led to the realization of the power of building communities through soil. Leading to a bigger realization of the importance of community involvement and is what has thrusted her to become a service member through Arkansas GardenCorps. The knowledge gained throughout her experience at Tri Cycle Farms she plans to incorporate into her own farm, family, and community one day.

The Oak Forest Community Garden was founded in 1995 to give residents of the area a place to grow their own food and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It continues this mission today with the help of the University District Development Corporation and the City of Little Rock Parks and Recreation. Situated on 25th and S Monroe near the UALR baseball fields, the Oak Forest Community Garden hopes to provide the entire University District community a place to grow, learn, and connect.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Meaghan Epperson

Meaghan believes that all people have a right to the basic necessities of life. Her desire is to make healthy living a reality for every struggling Arkansan through increased access to nutritious food, education and skill sharing, and community engagement. She is interested in plant-based nutrition, disc golf, bowling, and the natural world around us.

The University of the Ozarks' Food for Thought Garden is located in Clarksville Arkansas, on the University of the Ozarks campus. The garden, initiated in the Spring of 2015, serves as an extension of the Environmental Studies program and offers hands-on learning experiences in Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture. Integral to the definition of sustainability, the garden works to be ecologically sound, promote social well-being, and remain economically viable. 

Produce grown in our garden is split between the student volunteers, members of our community facing food security challenges, and sold both on campus and at the local farmer's market. Food shared with our community is either given to the Interfaith Food Bank or distributed by Clarksville Schools as part of their weekend backpack food program. In our first year and a half, we grew a variety of produce including tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, greens and squash. 

Future plans include installing a drip irrigation system and cultivating additional vegetable and soft fruit beds.

In addition, the creation of a neighborhood garden will take place in Cline Park to provide local residents with access to spaces for the cultivation of fresh produce and positive community interactions.

2017 - 2018 Service Member

Frances Adams

Frances Adams graduated from the University of the Ozarks Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Environment Studies. She is one of the founding members of the Food For Thought Garden and interned at Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, an environmental non-profit organization, before joining GardenCorps. She is very excited for what this year has in store for the Food For Thought Garden and loves making an impact on the Clarksville community. She is especially close to the garden cat, Cauliflower.

2016 - 2017 Service Member

Nena Evans

Nena Evans was born in Rogers, Arkansas, but raised mostly in Bergman, Arkansas. She graduated high school from Bergman in 2012 and earned a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies in May of 2016 at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. She has been involved in gardening and addressing environmental issues her entire life. This is Nena's second term with the Arkansas GardenCorps, and she's excited to continue her involvement with the Food for Thought Garden at the U of O, as well as the development of a neighborhood garden to be located in Cline Park in Clarksville. She loves the way gardens can connect people of all backgrounds and circles of life, while also providing the tools and knowledge necessary to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

2015 - 2016 Service Member

Nena Evans

Nena was born in Rogers, Arkansas, but raised mostly in Bergman, Arkansas. She graduated high school from Bergman in 2012 and is currently attending college at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville where she will graduate from in the spring of 2016 with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies. She has been involved in gardening and addressing environmental issues her entire life. Last spring, she was involved in the beginning of the first on-campus garden at U of O, which is where she will be serving her term with Arkansas GardenCorps. She love the way she and her fellow students are able to use the garden to not only provide healthy, local food to the nearby community and student body at the university, but also increase knowledge about nutrition, the environment, and sustainable agriculture.

Waves of Prayer is a 501(c)3 serving predominantly African-American and Hispanic farm workers in south Phillips County, most of whom live below the poverty level.  They have 1/2 acre of greens and three cactus gardens totaling 1/8 acre, but plan to expand to include sweet potatoes, okra, purple-hulled peas, and tomatoes.  The crops are free for the picking as their way of introducing healthy foods to the community.  In addition to donating the produce, they plan to begin selling some and become a major Sweet Potato Pie sales outlet. Cactus will also be harvested for sale as they increase education on edible cactus.  Waves of Prayer's primary educational target populations are the 200 young people in the Summer Feeding Program in Lake View and Elaine and the 200 families participating in Free Food Distribution, which receives food from the Delta Food Bank and Arkansas Food Bank.  

2017 - 2018 Service Member

James White

James White is committed to improving the quality of life for the area in which he was born, grew up, graduated from high school, and raised his children.  Throughout his life he has worked on farms, been a thriving business man and disc jockey, and is known as a community volunteer and village-dad to all the children in the area.  He has plowed family gardens for many in the area and is growing cactus to teach people the nutritional value of eating cactus.  In the vast Delta, he is offering free, fresh vegetables to show that if planted and shielded from crop dusters, gardens can survive and produce healthy foods.  

Yellville-Summit School is located in Marion County in the north central region of the state. Approximately 36% of children in Marion County are living in poverty and currently 77% of elementary students at Y-S are eligible for free/reduced lunch program. These numbers indicate that many of the families in our school district experience some level of food insecurity. According to Marion County Health rankings for 2011, 63.5% of our residents are overweight or obese and only 48.7% report meeting physical activity recommendations (2007). According to BRFSS data for the past decade, less than 30% of Arkansans meet the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

There is a need to increase awareness of health benefits involved in growing, processing, and consuming fresh produce. In a policy statement issued by the AAP in 2006, "lifestyle-related physical activity, as opposed to aerobics or calisthenics, is critical for sustained weight loss in children". Gardening is definitely a lifestyle-related physical activity and if these studies translate to similar results in other age groups, which they likely do, additional time outdoors in the garden will benefit participants of all ages, not only for the time spent in gardening, but the encouragement to be active at other times.

Many beneficial partners have been involved in the current program and we anticipate continued involvement into the future. Marion County Cooperative extension, Yellville Farmer's Market, Y-S Coordinated School Health and many area businesses have partnered with the garden to provide resources, support and volunteer hours. The Yellville-Summit School garden is comprised of a demonstration garden with 26 beds, a high tunnel with approximately 800 square foot of growing space, and a hillside area to expand the garden with terraced beds (one bed

Founded in 1966, Youth Home, Inc., located in Little Rock, Arkansas, is a private non-profit mental health provider. In the mid-1980's, Youth Home's program developed into a medical model directed by child and adolescent psychiatrists. Our continuum of care includes adolescent residential and community based treatment, day treatment, and school-based services, as well as outpatient services for individuals of all ages. Youth Home, Inc. is accredited by The Joint Commission, the nation's oldest and largest accrediting body for healthcare providers. Youth Home addresses a need in the State of Arkansas for quality healthcare for individuals and families.

Youth Home, Inc.'s vision is to be recognized as a premier treatment and professional training center by offering an array of individualized and specialized treatment programs led by extraordinary staff. Clients come to us from families of every socio-economic level. Referrals for most services come from individuals seeking behavioral health care, school districts, juvenile court, Division of Youth Services, Division of Children and Family Services, other mental health agencies and hospitals, parents, family members, and guardians.