Four urban farms in Indianapolis have created IndyGrown, a collaborative marketing presence for urban farms. Each farm is distinct in size, location, and personality, but all share similar farming practices and philosophies. Using sustainable growing practices, IndyGrown farms are creating green space in the urban core and repurposing vacant land in Indianapolis.
With support from a 2012 NCR-SARE $21,070 group Farmer Rancher grant, the four Indianapolis farms joined forces to create the IndyGrown brand, define the growing standards for IndyGrown farmers, test marketing strategies, train farm members in Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) procedures, purchase post-harvest wash stations, conduct farm tours, and more. The member farms include Big City Farms, South Circle Farm, CUE Farm at Butler University, and Growing Places Indy.
“IndyGrown was created to be used as a distribution, marketing, and capacity-building tool for existing and future urban farms in Indianapolis,” explained project coordinator and urban farmer, Matthew Jose. “There were several farms/farming initiatives that had been established in Indianapolis, and we felt like a more collaborative approach could benefit all of us, in terms of financial stability and public presence, as well as lay the groundwork for a more-formalized resource network for potential and future urban farmers.”
IndyGrown farmers worked with the director of the Business Ownership Initiative in Indianapolis to develop a mission statement and set of shared values for IndyGrown, followed by a series of common goals and objectives that could allow the group to begin working as a supportive and influential presence for new and existing urban farms.
They’ve created an IndyGrown brand with a website, logo, and marketing materials. They’ve also established growing standards for IndyGrown farmers relating to safe soils, organically-based growing practices, and post-harvest practices focusing on food safety. These standards will be used to determine farmer membership for IndyGrown, and a marketing tool.
IndyGrown farmers offer tours to provide Indianapolis residents with an opportunity to visit the IndyGrown farms and talk with the farmers about the unique aspects of their operations. Jose says each farm works to improve their own particular site through the regular application of compost, the use of cover crops, and the occasional use of organically-approved pest controls.
Indygrown is exploring the ways in which they can support new and future growers; Jose says maintaining that conversation and strengthening the network in spite of setbacks and incredibly busy and demanding schedules is a vital part of IndyGrown’s work.
“As small farms steadily increase in number and become a more visible presence throughout the country, it will become more attractive, and necessary, for individual farms to collaborate with others, so as to more forcefully voice their opinions on issues related to the continued success of small farms (such as land use policies, institutional purchasing requirements, and agricultural training programs),” said Jose. “I hope that IndyGrown will become a sought-after resource for urban farming efforts within Indianapolis and elsewhere. We have already begun weighing in on proposed zoning changes that will affect the viability of urban agriculture, in addition to discussing the possibility of new farming ventures and businesses. I think that this dual effort (on the policy front, as well as the practical applications) will be the primary way that IndyGrown will affect and improve the long-term place of urban agriculture.”
View a presentation on this project, from the 2014 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant:
- Urban Farmers Marketing Cooperative (FNC12-868)