The St. Joseph Center is located on 63 acres of pasture and farmland at 6800 Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock. The four-story, 71,000-square-foot structure was built in 1908 to serve as an orphanage for the Catholic Church.

Arkansas Urban Homesteading Conference

Coming to St. Joseph Center in North Little Rock

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Homesteading Conference and the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas announce that the Arkansas Urban Homesteading Conference will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at the St. Joseph Center, 6800 Camp Robinson Road in North Little Rock.

“This conference will be focusing on ways to practice homesteading skills in an urban or suburban setting,” said Britt Talent, organizer of the Arkansas Homesteading Conference. “While many of the topics will be tailored for small-scale practices, just about any of these ideas can be implemented on a larger scale for those living out in the country.”

The St. Joseph Center is a former Catholic orphanage situated on 63 acres of mostly pasture and farmland next to Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. The orphanage is four-story structure built in 1908 that covers about 71,000 square feet of space.

A few years ago, the Catholic church closed the orphanage and considered tearing it down. Instead, a local group wanted to see the beautiful structure preserved, and thus the St. Joseph Center was born.

Talent said the Arkansas Urban Homesteading Conference will be a joint fundraising venture with St. Joseph Center with a portion of the proceeds going to the effort to maintain and restore the historic structure.

“This is an ideal setting for a homesteading conference because the folks at St. Joseph have already implemented a lot of the hot homesteading practices into the development of their grounds,” Talent said. “Their ultimate goal is to develop it into an agri-tourism center that will allow people to see small scale agriculture in practice. They hope the agri tourism will generate enough revenue to help the maintain and improve the property as a whole.”

The grounds already include several vegetable gardens, chicken coops, a stand of bees, large composting bins and even cattle. Two new high tunnels are also on the “to do” list, and hopefully, at least one of them will be up by the conference.

There are basically four different garden areas at St. Joseph: a community garden where individuals plant and care for their own garden in raised beds, a demonstration garden where various growing methods are practiced, a hunger relief garden using traditional gardening methods to provides food for those in need, and a new pollinator garden designed to attract pollinators to benefit the vegetable gardens.

“The folks at the St. Joseph Center are doing a great job with their gardens,” Talent said. “I came across some tomato plants in the community garden that were over my head and I’m about six feet tall.”

Having the conference in Central Arkansas will also provide them with several resources to tap into with regards to session content.
“This conference will likely include the most subject matter we’ve ever had in a one-day event,” Talent said.