Farm Works Indy

Urban farmer Matthew Jose started Big City Farms five years ago, which is a farm in Indianapolis that offers CSAs shares as well as sales to local restaurants. Jose trades the property owner a CSA share for the farm use of the previously unused grass space at the Midland Arts & Antique Market in downtown. This year, Jose collaborated with his friends Annie Hostetter and Kira Brady to create a summer youth farmer apprenticeship program, Farm Works Indy. They recognized the needs for both meaningful youth employment opportunities and increasing food access for Indianapolis residents. Farm Works employs four IPS high school students for the apprenticeship, which runs from June 17- August 1 and is 20 hours a week.

Part of Farm Works mission is to raise money for donation CSA shares. Organizations or individuals buy shares for underserved, limited food access areas. The share donations can create a steady supply of healthy food in communities. “It is critical to engage and familiarize people with the best use of less popular food items,” said Jose. The farm grows over 40 different vegetables at about 40 more different varieties. The apprentices work on creating their own original recipes for the CSA members. On a weekly basis, they spend about 14 hours harvesting, planting, and turning compost. The other six hours are spent working on education and leadership skills.

These run from giving farm tour presentations to the public to how to write a resume. There is some financial literacy and writing assignments that put their farm experience to the written word, such as how to prepare a bed. The goal is for the apprentices have first time job experiences and empower them to become engaged leaders that can take steps to make changes in their food system. Farm Works big picture is to foster relationships with schools in order to diversify their educational offerings and to have 3-5 acre parcels of Farm Works farms’ in every township in order to make a bigger impact that is also economically feasible.

Submitted By:
Whitney Warner
SI 2016 Regional Coordinator, Indianapolis