“Get Engaged (in Your Community) with Tiffany Hanson” is a series exploring community engagement opportunities in Indianapolis. This is the first article in the series.
While “getting engaged” can mean accepting a pledge to get married, “getting engaged” in your community can mean being greatly interested in and becoming involved with a community-serving activity.
As a community engagement professional and volunteer enthusiast, I often connect with mavens seeking advice on increasing their own personal community engagement practices. With springtime upon us as a time of nourishment and growth, I couldn’t think of a better engagement opportunity than a community garden doing incredible work to serve our Indy neighbors.
GETTING TO KNOW INDY URBAN ACRES
I’d love to introduce you fabulous Mavens out there to Indy Urban Acres, a project of The Parks Alliance of Indianapolis. This collection of organic farms empowers and educates our Indy neighbors through the process of providing equitable access to free, high-quality produce.
Since 2011, this urban farm has grown into a multifaceted organization that inspires transformational change within Indy’s food system by providing fresh food to families in need while developing entrepreneurial skills in young farmers.
Each summer, thousands of youths and young adults participate in the experience of farming and learning how to grow their own food.
There’s good news, Mavens—you can participate, too!
“I love getting my hands dirty and watching the process of the crops maturing. Great things come from hard work, perseverance and endurance,” Indy Urban Acres farmer As’Samada Yarbro Abdul-Haqq shared.
HOW INDY URBAN ACRES HELPS
As you dive a bit deeper into the organization, you’ll see that the heart of the Indy Urban Acres operations is growing, harvesting, and distributing more than 60,000 pounds of FREE produce every year. Their team partners with numerous community groups to distribute fresh fruit and vegetables to families, including Old Bethel Food Pantry, affordable housing communities, Indy Parks Family Centers, and Kheprw Institute.
In addition to their strong partnerships, Indy Urban Acres launched the Veggie Box delivery program to bring fresh produce directly to the neighborhoods that need it.
“We are excited to build upon the Veggie Box program for the coming season. I am convinced this is the most important work we have ever done to serve those who are hungry,” said Tyler Gough, Director of Indy Urban Acres.
While connecting with community members, Indy Urban Acres realized that one significant barrier to accessing fresh, healthy food is a community member’s geographic proximity to pantries and stores who offer produce. One resident shared that she sometimes needs to take two separate buses just to get to a store that offers fresh veggies. The Veggie Box program now delivers boxes with an assortment of fresh seasonal produce directly to the residential areas, and sometimes the doorsteps, of those neighbors.
“We must rethink hunger. What we as a society have tried to do as far as remedies is simply not working. New and innovative ideas are needed to solve this issue and the Veggie Box may very well be the solution,” Gough stated.
Gough and his team set strategic goals to increase their footprint to reach more of those neighbors in food deserts.
“Every night, 80,000 children in Indianapolis are at risk of going to bed hungry. Our work isn’t finished here until that number is 0,” Gough said.
Can you Mavens out there help them reach that goal?
PUT A RING ON IT: WAYS TO GET ENGAGED
If you’re ready to make a commitment to get involved, we’ve got some suggestions for Mavens like you.
- Looking to get your hands dirty? Consider volunteering on Friday mornings beginning in May and ending in August.
- If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to volunteer.
- Don’t have the time to volunteer but want to support this important mission? You can donate funds directly to support the Indy Urban Acres team in reaching their goals.
- Make a donation today at https://www.parks-alliance.org/donate-to-parks/.
- Ready for an opportunity to get out of the house, meet some new people, and have a lot of fun supporting this community garden? Plan to attend one of their special events! They really know how to put the “fun” in fundraiser.
THESE PARTIES TAKE THE CAKE
Spring Plant Sale
The Spring Plant Sale supports the operational costs of this urban farm and its mission to provide equitable access to free, high-quality produce. Take home plants of your own to enjoy gardening with your family and friends, and to support this community garden at the same time.
- Limited on time? Purchase a full tray of up to 18 plants online through their pre-sale option at https://www.iuaplantsale.com/#/.
- Make a day of it! Shop in-person at their beautiful farm at 7700 E. 21st Street on May 7th and 8th from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on both days.
Farmraiser is a 21+ hybrid party and fundraiser hosted on the last Saturday in September. Attendees can sip some delicious local drinks, munch on tasty local eats, listen to live music, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience under the sun and stars at the Indy Urban Acres main farm.
- Tickets go on sale in May, so if you’d like to stay in the know, sign up for The Parks Alliance’s monthly Between the Concrete newsletter.
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