holding tomatoes in community garden

Community Gardens — Serving the South Side with Better Nutrition

Your well-being should never be limited by the kind of food you’re able to put on the table. But on the south side of Indianapolis, food insecurity is an all-too-common barrier to better health.

As caregivers, we have the responsibility to address the health of our community even outside our hospital walls. Wherever there’s a plate without nutritious food, there’s a health need waiting to be met. And an opportunity for Community Health Network to help.

In 2017, Community Hospital South partnered with the University of Indianapolis to address food scarcity on the south side. Today our community garden program provides hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to members of the community every month.

By making sure nutritious foods aren’t a luxury, we’re building the foundation for lasting health on the south side.

Exceptional Care Through Better Nutrition

The original community garden was unlike anything Community had ever done before. It wasn’t an opportunity for UIndy students to learn how to garden, but an invitation to reflect on the greater health needs of our neighborhoods.

Like the effort against food scarcity, progress in the gardens isn’t always quick. But students learn that small steps taken today can make a major impact down the road. Improving the health of the soil in a single garden bed or installing better irrigation may not show immediate results — but you can count on a bountiful harvest for your efforts.

What started as a few garden beds has already grown into a community-wide effort. In addition to the UIndy campus gardens, you can now find community gardens in the Carson Heights, University Heights and Bethany neighborhoods. Students, faculty, Community caregivers, volunteers and members of the community are all doing their part to keep our neighbors fed, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UIndy campus gardens grew nearly 400 pounds of produce for the south side this year. Local food pantries and other distribution sites offer locally grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, zucchinis and more for neighborhoods that have historically lacked access to fresh fruits and veggies.

Community also offers free cooking classes to help put healthier meals on plates, so nutrition can play less of a role in doctor’s visits and trips to the ER. When we look at the root causes of health in our communities, we can truly deliver exceptional care — no matter if it’s needed in a hospital or on the dinner table.