Indy Urban Acres

Any gardener will tell you no tomato from Florida can begin to compare with one grown in your backyard.  They’ll tell you that corn and beans from the garden in summer are something wonderful. Enjoying fresh, locally grown produce is one of the great joys of summer. Unfortunately, many urban dwellers don’t have access to this bounty.

Now thanks to a unique partnership between Indiana University Health and Indy Parks, many low income people can have access to these healthful foods. Indy Urban Acres is a small organic farm on the east side of Indianapolis.  It was funded by the Indianapolis Parks Foundation along with IU Health while Indy Parks provided the land. On their two acres, they grow lots of fresh veggies which are all sent to Gleaners Food Bank which in turn distributes it to food pantries and meal sites in central and southeast Indiana.

“Anything you can grow, we grow,” says farm manager, Tyler Gough. “We grow 43 different kinds of fruit and vegetables.” And they grow a lot of them. Last year they harvested 35,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. That’s about a quarter million servings of fresh, nutritious vegetables.

But fresh produce is only half of their work. Last summer, 4,000 kids visited the farm to learn where food comes from. They see the plants growing, sample some of the produce and are given a container and seeds to take home. “They come here as visitors,” says Gough, “and they leave as gardeners.” They gain a greater understanding of both the importance of good nutrition and an appreciation for how good tasting fresh veggies can be. He adds, “These kids will change the world.”

Labor is provided from over 600 volunteers. The farm also has a greenhouse where produce is grown year round using only the sun’s heating. There is a gas powered heater but it is not used. Fertilizer comes from worm castings that fall from a container filled with garbage. Compost from previous year’s green matter helps improve the soil.

Fresh produce is a significant weapon against obesity and diabetes. It’s also apt to be a rare commodity for low income people living in urban areas. Indy Acres is helping change that.


Submitted by Richard Clough