Do you believe farming is or should be an integral part of your community? Do you have a desire to confront food insecurity through outreach and teaching? Do you care about the future of Arkansas? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider serving with Full Circle FarmCorps!
Since its creation, Full Circle FarmCorps members have worked diligently to serve their communities! The program began under the leadership of the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas, located in North Little Rock. In 2020, the program moved to the Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development Council, and began a partnership with Arkansas Department of Agriculture, which has continued into 2021.
Full Circle FarmCorps is an AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps is the national agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. AmeriCorps works with millions of Americans and leads the country’s volunteering and service efforts.
As a Full Circle FarmCorps member, you will support local gardens, engage volunteers, and teach about gardening and nutrition at a service site in Arkansas. Service sites are municipal, nonprofit, school, and community gardens. Not only will you work with community members one on one, but you will also have the opportunity to work as part of a team. Most importantly, you will strengthen Arkansas communities and help fight food insecurity.
There are also quite a few benefits for FarmCorps volunteers. First, members earn a biweekly living allowance, qualify for SNAP benefits, and at the completion of service, receive an education award that can be used to pay off existing student loans or to use to go to college. Members also get a break from your student loans in the form of forbearance. The experience also provides training and professional development as well as a network of service alumni!
As the host organization, the Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development Council believes that, “all levels of government, and grassroots organizations can work together to solve problems and sustain communities, local economies, and natural resources.” Due to the success of the program in its two years, Full Circle FarmCorps is gradually expanding into other areas of the state. Currently, the program serves 10 sites in Central Arkansas including the Arkansas Foodbank, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, and the Dunbar Community Garden.
Two teams, Alfalfa and Bean respectively, entered the program in 2020. Together, both teams completed over 23,000 service hours in their communities! Serving at both traditional and school sites, the two teams graduated in September. In early 2021 the Chickpea cohort began their service at sites in both central and western Arkansas, where they completed their service in August, 2021. FarmCorps will soon begin recruiting new members for its new program year. The members will begin in October 2021 and complete 1200 hours of service. For more information, visit the St. Joseph Center’s website or contact the Program Director, A.B. Stewart, at firstname.lastname@example.org.