Author: Andrew Amelinckx | Published: November 4, 2016
When you think of urban agriculture many people tend to picture cities like New York or San Francisco. But in Indiana, a state more associated with large farms growing commodity crops like wheat and soybeans, there’s a quiet revolution taking place in Indianapolis. Mission-driven urban farm programs are trying to solve the big city problems of urban renewal, job opportunities for the disenfranchised, and feeding the hungry who live in so-called “food deserts” without access to fresh, wholesome food.
In this city of a little less than a million people, Indianapolis has an outsized problem with food insecurity. In 2014, it topped the real estate company Redfin’s list of worst cities for food access. Over the last few years a number of diverse organizations have banded together to deal with the issue, creating unique partnerships that have resulted in an urban farm that donates all its produce to food banks, a restaurant—complete with micro-farm—where the proceeds go to feeding food-insecure students, and a high-tech hydroponic farm that provides jobs for folks who need a second chance. Modern Farmer spoke with several of the people involved in these projects to see how they are dealing with food insecurity in their city.
Indy Urban Acres
In 2011, Indy Urban Acres was born out of a partnership between the Indianapolis Parks Department, the non-profit Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indiana University Health, Gleaners Food Bank, and with the support of The Glick Fund, Indianapolis Power & Light and CLIF Bar Family Foundation. According to Tyler Gough, the farm manager for Indy Urban Acres, these groups pulled together “whatever resources they had” to provide organic produce for the 150,000 food-insecure residents of the city. The 35,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables they grow each year on five acres of an eight-acre organic farm (the other three acres are used as educational space) goes to local food pantries.