Bringing Nutritious Options to Food Deserts in Indiana

May 1, 2024
Legacy Taste of the Garden is a farm outside of Lyle's Station, Indiana that provides education and outreach to BIPOC producers across Indiana.

The Challenge

Urban areas with limited access to fresh and affordable food, commonly known as food deserts, are typically located in historically marginalized communities. Residents in these areas often have poorer health outcomes and may lack knowledge about food nutrition and preparation. Legacy Taste of the Garden is a Black-owned, multi-generational farm occupying four acres across three Indiana locations. With a goal to address the region’s food access and information needs, Legacy secured a Farmer/Rancher grant to promote and offer fresh and local food, educate their community about traditional farming and gardening methods, and close the gap between local producers and consumers.

A woman in front of a produce stand
Denise Greer Jamerson is a fifth-generation farmer who co-manages Legacy Taste of the Garden along with her husband, John Jamerson, and their son. Photo by ©Journal Communications/Jeff Adkins.

This SARE youth grant
project was the foundation
to establishing the national
presence that Legacy Taste
of the Garden has today.John Jamerson, Legacy Taste of the Garden

The Actions Taken

Legacy Taste of the Garden Operations Director John Jamerson partnered with two other area farms to educate youth and adults alike about urban farming practices and business opportunities. Participants learned about Legacy’s farming methods like using hoop houses and bucket systems, as well as about direct marketing models like community-supported agriculture (CSA). Additionally, Jamerson collaborated with chefs to create educational programming and materials centered on nutrition and food preparation, including a “28-day challenge” that guided participants through a month-long, plant-based diet. An app was developed to direct community members to local food options. The multi-faceted project connected consumers to local producers and provided an example of how one can operate and sustain an urban farm business.

The Impacts

Legacy Taste of the Garden was highly successful at its efforts to improve local food access and to generate enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture and nutritious whole foods. Specific impacts include:

  • Increased availability of fresh food: Community members gained access to fresh produce thanks to Legacy’s decision to grow food across three separate food-desert locations.
  • Local outreach: Legacy Taste of the Garden not only provided education on sustainable agriculture practices, but they also conducted workshops, 4-H programs and virtual cooking demonstrations about preparing healthy food.
  • Community engagement: The project led to partnerships with local organizations, libraries, churches and farmers. Social media efforts and a website connected food producers with consumers through information on events, markets and crop availability.

Learn more: Listen to John Jamerson share the story of their SARE grant project.

View Related SARE Grant:

Topics: Community Development, Sustainable Communities, Urban Agriculture, Urban/Rural Integration
Related Locations: Indiana, North Central