By Sarah Cato
U of A System Division of Agriculture
· 2018 Urban Homesteading Conference will be held Nov. 3
· Conference will cover agricultural topics from beekeeping to food preservation
· For registration and info: http://www.arkansashomesteader.com/
RISON, Ark. – What began as a little dabbling at home has turned into the Arkansas Homesteading Conference – a series of meetings that provide information and demonstrations on sustainable living techniques.
The next event, the Arkansas Urban Homesteading Conference, returns to the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas in North Little Rock on Saturday, Nov. 3. It’s presented by the Arkansas Homesteaders, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the St. Joseph Center.
The conference will cover gardening, food preservation, alternative energy and other concepts that are backyard-friendly.
The Arkansas Homesteading Conference was co-founded by Britt and Karen Talent of Rison. The conference is in its fifth year, having held events at Rison, Mountain View, Harrison and North Little Rock.
"This conference is a little different from our typical homesteading conferences in that we focus more on concepts that can practiced in someone's backyard," Britt Talent said. "There are a lot of ways people can enjoy growing their own food in a tiny backyard or even on the balcony of an apartment, and a lot of these concepts can be scaled up for those who have more space."
Talent said homesteading is “something we’ve dabbled in. I had a friend suggest that we put on this conference through the newspaper, so we did.” Talent is editor and publisher of the Cleveland County Herald in Rison.
That first conference held in their hometown of Rison drew about 150 people from 18 counties across Arkansas. “We were encouraged to hold another and, as they say, the rest is history.” Since then, people from a dozen states have attended the conferences to learn more about achieving a sustainable lifestyle.
Division of Agriculture Extension Horticulture Specialist Janet Carson will cover container and raised bed gardening and Farm Hands Companions homesteader Gary “Pa Mac” McWilliams will discuss “no cost” gardening.
Other presentations include:
· Fermentation with Margie Raimondo of Southern Table Restaurant in Little Rock
· Dehydrating foods with Michelle Carter, Bradley County extension agent for the Division of Agriculture and an expert in food preservation/
· Home berry production with Amanda McWhirt, extension horticulture specialist for the Division of Agriculture.
· Solar energy applications for the home with Frank Kelly from Solar Source Consulting in North Little Rock
· Raised bed growing trials with Les Walz, staff chair for the Cleveland County Extension office
· Composting methods with Ryan and Rosemary Sinclair of Geeky Goose Farm
· Building an air pruning raised bed with Arkansas Homesteading Conference organizer Britt Talent
· Natural beekeeping with Lori Bird of Birds & Bees Honey
· Growing in high tunnels with Bobby Burrows and Travis DeLongchamp, farmers with St. Joseph.
The conference will consist of three tracks with four sessions in each track and lunch will be provided with registration. The registration fees are $35 for adults, $11.25 for youth ages 7-12 and free for ages 6 and under.
To register or learn more about the Arkansas Urban Homesteading conference, visit www.arkansashomesteader.com or contact Britt Talent at (870) 325-6412.
This will be the second year the conference has been held at the 63-acre urban farming center located in North Little Rock next to Camp Robinson.
Originally constructed in 1908, the St. Joseph Home served as an orphanage until 1978. It continued to operate as a daycare and kindergarten until 1997. Since then, the non-profit St. Joseph Center of Arkansas has taken on the challenge of preserving the property by developing it into a working farm complete with gardens, cattle, sheep, goats, laying hens, bees and a farm stand.