Growing Places Indy Provides Agricultural Programs and Services
Indianapolis is not immune to food insecurity, and Growing Places Indy was formed to cultivate individual, family and community wellness through urban agriculture, access to fresh, local food, and mind-body education. Executive Director Victoria Beaty is putting that mission into action by providing low-income areas with several unique programs.
“I think everyone should have access to locally grown food and I think everyone should know how to grow it,” Beaty says.
Before working with Growing Places, Beaty worked in advertising for global fast-food chains. She decided she wanted to learn how food was grown.
“I never knew how to grow food,” Beaty says. “My mom grew food and planted flowers, but I was never interested in that before.”
She started out by volunteering in various programs with Growing Places Indy and eventually quit her full-time job to focus on the organization, which led to her executive director role.
With the help of staff and volunteers, Growing Places continues its mission at four urban lots – one at the Boner Fitness & Learning Center on the Arsenal Technical High School campus, one at White River State Park, and two in the Cottage Home neighborhood.
Growing Places also helped build the urban farm located on the Monon trail by Public Greens in Broad Ripple. Beaty says the Broad Ripple community has always been engaged, especially with the annual Winter Market.
“You don’t have to directly live in a neighborhood to have an impact in the neighborhood, and I think we’ve always had a great engagement with the community in Broad Ripple,” she says.
Growing Places Indy not only grows food, but also makes sure it’s accessible through local food stands with fair pricing. The organization offers 50% off of produce for those on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. They also donate to local food pantries and offer workshare programs for those who want to devote time working on the farms. Interested in supporting Growing Places Indy? You can purchase fresh, local produce from farm stands at the Boner Fitness & Learning Center and the IndyGo Transit Center.
There are plenty of ways to get involved with Growing Places, but for those who want to get in the weeds, learn how to grow their food and possibly start their own business, the year-long Grow Getters program is a great option. It provides much-needed resources for aspiring urban farmers, and offers farm job training, mentoring, and other business development assistance for new, beginning and underrepresented farmers.
There is also a related program called Young Grow Getters that will take place for six weeks this summer, for those aged 15 to 18. It’s a paid, intensive, hands-on youth agriculture program led by industry professionals in sustainable farming, culinary arts, food production and technology, offering real-world experience and career skills.
This focus on building a new generation of urban farmers and providing long-term, equitable solutions to food insecurity is a particular focus for Beaty.
“For me it’s really personal,” she says. “I grew up in a neighborhood that didn’t have access to a grocery store. We had a Double 8 and a 7-Eleven we had to shop at, and I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. I thought most people’s neighborhoods looked like that.”
Beaty believes these programs and volunteer opportunities will provide a lasting, equitable effect on marginalized communities in Indianapolis. Her goal in creating these programs is for people to understand the food system, and to further the mission of sustainability by providing people with skills and knowledge to grow their own food and start their own businesses.
“I want to make Indianapolis a more equitable and just community by creating more food access,” Beaty says. “We need to have more candid conversations about why these communities of color don’t have grocery stores and how we got here.”
Whether they’re providing workshare programs or giving volunteers hands-on lessons on urban farms, Growing Places Indy is here to support those interested in urban farming, and provide fresh food for communities that need it. For more information, visit growingplacesindy.org.