The Indianapolis Parks Foundation began combating the hunger of low-income families in March of 2011, after receiving a $150,000 grant from Indiana University Health which made the development of Indy Urban Acres Farm possible. Today, eight acres on the Eastside between 21st Street and Shadeland Avenue, formerly used in the staging of construction for I-70, grow a variety of fresh produce because of the initiatives from these organizations.
Though only a portion of the area is developed, plans to expand have seen the construction of a hoop house with the help of students from IUPUI, an orchard area for apples, pears, cherry and peach trees, along with raised beds for additional crops.
The farm has truly blossomed under the careful supervision of farm manager Tyler Gough. His expertise in planning, planting and cultivating has made the project a success. It donates 100 percent of the harvest to low-income families through a partnership with the non-profit Gleaners Food Bank. The nonprofit takes charge in distributing the goods to food pantries throughout the city and to hunger relief agencies in 21 central and southeastern counties. Products of the harvest include potatoes, cucumbers, kale, chard, greens, lettuces, spinach, radishes, corn, beets, turnips, beans, carrots and more, all grown without the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals.
The organic urban farm was designed to combat issues facing families in poverty, like diabetes, obesity and hunger, as part of Mayor Greg Ballards fight to eliminate food deserts in Indianapolis urban area. The program teaches and promotes community involvement with the farms resources, growing more than 35,000 pounds of fresh produce in 2012 with the help of more than 500 volunteers. Educational opportunities designed by the farm helped more than 1,000 kids explore Indy Urban Acres Farm last year. They learned about sustainable urban agriculture, soil, healthy eating and more. Community members who visit and are inspired to give their green thumbs a try have a space set aside to do so at one end of the Indy Urban Acres Farm plot.
With the help of volunteers, the support of the community and the drive of a city getting hip to urban gardening, Indy Urban Acres Farm has kept countless Hoosiers from going hungry. Even better, it has provided healthy, organic, locally grown meals and taught communities about the value of sustainable urban farming.