Jody Hardin, the subject of an October feature story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for his efforts to turn the old St. Joseph’s Orphanage property in North Little Rock into a organic farm and teaching facility, has resigned, a member of the board of St. Joseph’s said. Board member Wally Gieringer declined to say whether Hardin resigned of his own accord or was asked.
The Times left a message with Hardin but has not yet made contact.
Hardin has been working with Heifer International’s “Seeds of Change,” a project to create local markets for Delta farmers and revitalize the state Agriculture Department’s Arkansas Grown, according to a Heifer website. Through the St. Joseph CSA (community supported agriculture), Hardin sells shares of future crops for upfront payments to farmers to supply weekly boxes of fresh grown food.
Heifer International no longer calls its program “Seeds of Change,” according to a person answering the phone provided by Heifer’s Ending Hunger and Poverty webpage. The program is now Heifer USA. There was no one available to talk about the program.
Hardin was also featured in the summer edition of Food & Farm, a publication of the Arkansas Times, where it was reported that St. Joseph’s own produce would soon be included in the CSA, run under the name Foodshed Farms. Subscribers pay a seasonal fee of $450 for the weekly delivery of produce. A fall CSA was planned.
UPDATE: Hardin has called back with some new information. He said he resigned his position — unpaid for 18 months — so that a duo of “senior-level CEOs” could take over. He said he will act as development director. The farm will also move to a non-profit under the Farm and Food Innovation Center umbrella.
The Foodshed Farms CSA, which is a Heifer project but which Hardin hopes will one day be taken over by the farmers themselves, has two more weeks left in its fall program and will be able to handle 350 shares for the spring delivery, starting in May, Hardin said.
The “real news,” Hardin said, is that he and Heifer International are hoping to create a mobile food truck, and he will meet with the Baptist Health Foundation board this week to talk about getting a matching grant. He said the mobile truck — he hopes it will be in something like a city bus — will be a million-dollar project over five years. The truck will be on the parking lot of Baptist Health at first, but Hardin said he hopes to be able to take the program to food deserts in rural areas like Hughes, Dermott and Gould.