binford farmers market

Binford Farmers Market — Building Better Nutrition on the Northeast Side

You don’t build a community just by building houses or businesses. Strengthening the bond between people who live in a neighborhood takes work, and a dedication to improving the lives of everyone who calls that place home.

As a trusted healthcare partner on Indianapolis’ northeast side, Community Hospital North has always sought partnerships with like-minded organizations to address the needs of our neighbors. We’re proud to partner with Binford Redevelopment and Growth (BRAG) to provide greater access to nutrition in the community we serve.

Making a commitment to the community

In 2005, the corner of 71st and Binford was in a dire situation. The commercial and retail stores that had populated the area for more than four decades began to close shop and move to newer suburbs. Empty storefronts became a visual blight on the once bustling community.

What’s more, there was no safe way to get around if you didn’t have a car. The neighborhood lacked the infrastructure, such as trails, to safely allow the area’s 35,000 residents to enjoy their community on foot.

Then one day, people came together and decided to lay the foundation for a better quality of life on the northeast side.

“We had over 400 community members at that first meeting to stop the blight, and it grew to 800 at the second,” says Mark Flanary, Executive Director of BRAG. “We had businesses and residents who all wanted to work together to make this a better place to live.”

The neighbors agreed to focus on key areas of change they would like to see: bolstering public safety, improving connectivity around the neighborhood and bringing much-needed services to underserved residents. Chief among those services was greater access to food.

“Bringing Kroger to the neighborhood was a big step to address food insecurity, but we wanted to build something with a greater personal touch,” says Karen Kryah, President of BRAG’s board of directors.

Community Hospital North has been serving the northeast side of Indianapolis since 1985, and was an eager early supporter of BRAG. Soon that partnership found the perfect place to really take root: the Binford Farmers Market.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 2,000 people would visit the market each Saturday. This provided a great opportunity for Community caregivers to directly interact with the neighbors we serve, right where they live. Our caregivers hosted educational speaker series on the value of nutrition, and worked with local food pantries to connect people to the nutritious meals they need for better health.

The market is also a great place to start kids off on the right foot with health. Community’s registered nutritionists invite kids to play educational games, like “What’s That Veggie?” They also run teddy bear clinics to build trust among our youngest patients.

All in all, the market has proven to be a great platform for encouraging better health on the northeast side. A Community-sponsored welcome tent and pavilion also serve as an all-important space for building community. Market-goers can sit together and talk to their neighbors while enjoying live music — a much different picture than the disjointed neighborhood just years ago.

With such great improvements to the neighborhood already under their belt, BRAG continues to look toward the future — and Community Hospital North is thrilled to be part of the progress. The next major project is the redevelopment of Castleton with the Nickel Plate Trail, a proposed 9.2-mile pedestrian trail that would improve walkability in the area.

“When you see people walking along the side of the road with cars zooming past them, you know there has to be a safer way,” says Flanary. “For our neighbors who don’t have access to a car, trails give them a better way to get to work or to get to the care they need.”

If you know a neighbor in need on the northeast side or beyond, it’s easy to give them a helping hand. Point them to Community Connections, and you can help them connect to free and reduced-cost services available near home. By doing our part, we can all make our communities a better place to live.