Community Garden Bed Program
Community gardens supply neighborhoods, local schools and food pantries with fresh vegetables, greens, herbs and flowers. Many gardens are managed by students who learn about gardening, volunteering and finance through the programs. Learn more about Community's garden bed locations and their positive impacts in their communities.
Carson Heights Garden
In 2019, UIndy's second community garden opened just north of campus. The Carson Heights garden is located on a half-acre of university-owned land on Standish Avenue. It is the second community garden that is a result of a collaboration between UIndy and several other organizations. UIndy is working with garden partners including Purdue Extension, which is providing technical support; Community Health Network, which will offer free cooking classes to SoIndy neighbors; and Books & Brews South Indy, which will serve as a weekly distribution site for the produce grown at the Carson Heights garden.
During the first year, the Carson Heights garden will be focused on amending the soil, making it healthy for growing produce including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, radishes, squash and zucchini. Students from UIndy English professor Kevin McKelvey’s “Urban Food and Farming” course will plant and harvest, along with a group of TeenWorks volunteers. The garden offers numerous opportunities for community engagement, research and service learning. Gurinder Hohl, director of the UIndy-Community Health Network (CHNw) partnership notes, “Our goal is to create gardens that will provide access to affordable fresh produce. We plan to engage neighbors who want to learn how to create their own home gardens and how to incorporate healthy food into their diets."
Bethany gardens provides free gardening classes to anyone who is interested. Those who participate in the garden have free access to its harvest. All other produce from the gardens go to food pantries on the southside such as Hunger, Inc. and to organizations that help refugees such as The Chin Center.
University Heights Community Garden
Reestablished in 2018, University Heights Community Garden, located on the University of Indianapolis campus, supplies fresh vegetables to local residents using organic practices that support plants, insects and the environment. This program gives residents more access to fresh produce while also giving students and those living in the neighborhood gardening experience. The garden was managed by University of Indianapolis students for the first year. For more information or to get involved, call 317-788-2406.
In April 2018, volunteers from Community Hospital South, the University of Indianapolis, Purdue Extension and South Indy Quality of Life Plan cleaned raised garden beds, spread mulch, glued the beds' cement blocks, and planted seeds and plants.
Little Food Pantry
The SoIndy Health & Wellness Action Team is helping Southside neighbors connect with the resources they need right in their neighborhood. Little Food Pantry is a community building strategy to increase access to food and hygiene items for SoIndy community members. The idea is similar to the Little Library concept, "Bring what you can, take what you need". Each pantry will have non-perishable food, self-care products and toiletry items.
What was once a NUVO newspaper box is now a renovated pantry box that has been painted and installed by SoIndy residents. The box was prepared by the Paint-a-palooza camp at Garfield Park Arts Center where a team of young artists planned and designed the pantry box (photo below).
The SoIndy Health & Wellness Action Team installed the Little Food Pantry located at the University of Indianapolis' University Heights community garden and is supported by UIndy and Community Health Network with consultation provided by Purdue Extension. Another pantry will be added in the Bean Creek neighborhood.
Lawrence Community Garden
Lawrence Community Garden (LCG) has 10 beds. They have a summer youth program where 15 middle schoolers come out a few times a week and tend to the garden beds. They also have a farm stand on Saturdays where they sell the produce at a low cost. This teaches the kids business and communication skills, as well as work ethic and agricultural knowledge. They also learn financial responsibility, as they each receive a small stipend for their work.
"The lack of healthy options is keeping our streets filled with adults and children who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even social and behavior disorders. Lack of healthy food impacts these people the most. These are also the people who visit the pantries most often." - Sharrona Moore, LCG Leader
Lawrence Community Gardens grows organic produce on four acres to provide area pantries with quality, fresh produce for those who need their services and to provide the community with equal access to fresh, nutrient-dense foods. The top priorities for the gardens are food equality and providing innovative solutions to the food desert situation in the far east side.
Families who could not normally afford, or who have limited access to, healthy food can get organic fruit and vegetables from the garden through:
- Donations to food pantries like The Cupboard and The Sharing Place
- From the “you pick for free” section at the garden
- Donations to senior communities, youth organizations, schools, neighborhood churches, and other area pantries
Sharrona Moore (LCG leader) with summer 2018 garden volunteers.
The on-site youth-led farmer’s market is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m and on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. starting June 26, 2018. They accept EBT/SNAP at their stand to offer healthy options to those who receive public assistance. For those with limited transportation options, a climate-controlled mobile farm stand/market transports produce to area apartment complexes and retirement communities.
In 2017, Lawrence Community Gardens, Inc. grew more than 4,700 lbs. of food and donated more than 3,500 lbs. of produce to local pantries, direct to residents, and through other collaborating networks and organizations.
Being able to educate neighbors about the power of food and organic growing practices through networking, panel discussions, community conversations, events, workshops, hands-on activities, taste testing, cooking demonstrations, recipes, and volunteer opportunities is making a huge impact.
Cancer Support Community
Cancer Support Community has six beds, growing a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The produce grown will be featured in their Cooking for Wellness classes. The beds will also be used for physical and occupational therapy.
Carriage House East Apartments
Carriage House East Apartments has four beds. They have a summer youth program and the kids work in the garden about twice a week. The produce is put into their resident food pantry. They also have a resident responsible for watering the garden beds daily.
Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate School
Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate School has six beds, growing mostly greens. The produce is used in their cafeteria during the school year, and donated to the Hamilton County Food Pantry. They have a gardening club that meets twice weekly during the year and once weekly during the summer. Staff also volunteer in the garden.
Harrison Hill Elementary
Harrison Hill Elementary has four beds. They use the garden as part of their Family Engagement Nights during the year, and in the summer they use the produce in their Cooking Matters classes put on through Purdue Ext. Students are responsible for maintaining the beds.
Garden beds at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate School