I’m in Indianapolis for work today, and during lunch, I decided to take a stroll around the city. I can’t say I’ve ever intended to take a trip to Indiana for fun, but Indianapolis is a pretty nice city! I walked along the canal pathway, which was really great, and found my way around the huge Indiana Statehouse and a few more city streets. 

One thing I didn’t expect to find in the midst of downtown Indianapolis was a vegetable garden – but as I climbed the stairs out of the canal walkway, there one was, right in front of me, among the museums and convention hotels!

Growing Places Indy Slow Food Garden

The Growing Places Indy Slow Food Garden is a collaborative effort among many Indiana organizations to bring argriculture back into the urban core. This truly is an urban farm – it’s not an allotment community garden, but a farm intended to grow produce to sell to  local restaurants and at the city’s farmers market. The proceeds help support the farm’s operations.  At 6,000 square feet, it’s not huge, but with proper crop rotation/succession and enriched soil, there could be a lot of produce to sell!

Cabbage growing along nicely

The garden looks like it just got its start about a month ago, and while it could already use a pretty significant weeding, and lots of it is yet unplanted, it seems like a great start! 

There is even an on-site compost bin!

Projects like this take a lot of people working together, but I think this is a great way to demonstrate that people can grow food almost anywhere and to encourage more people to grow food gardens at home. We don’t think about it every day, but we’re incredibly lucky to live in the Midwest, where sunlight, rich soil and water are all plentiful enough to feed ourselves with plenty to spare. The investment in raw materials for this urban farm is relatively small, and the business model for selling produce to maintain the garden’s operation is very smart.

If Indianapolis can do this, why not Columbus (where I live and work)? And couldn’t we do it better? I could see downtown workers using their lunch breaks now and then to tend to the farm and get some stress relief. We’re about to get a large, new area of greenspace downtown, at the former City Center Mall site. Demolition is already completed. Why not make a small piece of lawn in that new park into a productive patch of land that can feed our people?

What would do you think it would take to get a project like this going in Columbus? I think the chances are improved by the City Center park site still in planning stages. There would have to be plenty of partnerships created to build, maintain and market the garden, and to get its produce into local restaurants, but I think it’s a challenge the people of Columbus are up to. Who’s with me?