Did you know there are 173 community gardens in Indianapolis – and counting? Many are maintained by schools, nonprofits and neighborhood associations with a purpose to feed anyone who is in need of fresh fruits and vegetables. Indianapolis visitors and residents alike will stumble upon gardens and urban farms just by walking the greenways and trails that connect downtown to the communities where people live.
This list highlights just a few of the gardens you may visit to see plants and vegetables that grow well in Indiana’s climate.
Slow Food Garden at White River State Park
1. Slow Food Garden at White River State Park (Downtown) - If you’ve ridden a Pacers Bikeshare bike from downtown Indianapolis to Victory Field, it is likely you have passed by the slow food garden. Stated by its name, this garden allows any visitor or resident of Indianapolis to watch the food they love grow from tiny seedlings to a full producing plant. Growing Places Indy maintains the 6,000 square feet of growing space which offers the majority of the produce they also sell throughout the year. Nearly 3 million visitors per year potentially interact with this garden through attending music festivals and events at White River State Park.
2. Fall Creek Gardens (Mapleton Fall Creek)- You won’t be able to pass up Fall Creek Gardens thanks to the beautiful sunflower mural painted on the cafe building next door. These raised bed garden plots are maintained by neighborhood volunteers, a board of directors and executive director Maggie Hanna. Created in response to a neighborhood survey that showed a wide-spread interest in home gardening, Fall Creek Gardens’ primary purpose is to is to teach others how to grow some of their own food. Workshops and classes extend gardening knowledge and cooking techniques. Four beds are set aside for gardening education for children.
3. Public Greens Garden (Broad Ripple)- Martha Hoover sowed the seeds of her newest restaurant directly into the soil of Indianapolis. Guests of Public Greens can munch on their chef prepared salads while literally watching the lettuce grow in the plots right by their table. With outdoor seating wrapping around the restaurant and the main entrance located not on the street but towards the Monon Trail, this restaurant gets you closer to your food than anywhere else. With such a great use of space, it will be exciting to watch the fruits and vegetables grow as you travel up and down the trail.
4. Rocky Ripple’s Burkhart Community Garden (Rocky Ripple) – Named after the Rocky Ripple resident who created the garden, Rick Burkhart, this area provides a space for neighbors to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers. Residents have donated everything to maintain the garden along with in-kind support from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and the Butler Center for Urban Ecology. Gardeners give back to the community by hosting annual events, educational workshops, share and donate produce. Established in 2001, the Rocky Ripple garden is one of the oldest and longest maintained community garden in Indianapolis.
Fall Creek Gardens image by Christie Koester of Growing Places Indy
5. The Paramount School of Excellence Farm (Near Eastside) – With 5.5 acres of land, the Paramount Farm turns traditional food education into a fun learning environment. Goats are milked daily at 7:00 AM, bee hives are tended to for honey and students tend to every aspect of vegetable farming from sowing seeds to harvesting produce. Founded in 2011, this charter school is changing the way students in the Near Eastside neighborhood think about their food. An upcoming fall festival aims to bring the community together through education on environment, health, food and farming.
6. The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden at Garfield Park and Conservatory – Children love to use all of their senses to explore, and the Genius Children’s Garden excites with interactive displays and child-centered programming. Exotic citrus trees can be found in the royally-inspired greenhouses and a seven foot tall vine begs to be climbed, all while parents take a break under the enlightened, sacred fig tree. Just like nature, this garden is open every day.
7. Eskenazi Health Sky Farm – Located on the 5,000 square foot rooftop of Eskenazi Health, this sky farm truly emphasizes the importance of preventive healthcare and wellness. Open to patients, staff and the community, the sky farm encourages people to learn how to prepare fresh produce and understand the health benefits. To do so, the hospital has partnered with Growing Places Indy, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Fall Creek Gardens and Living Well Community Garden to create classes and an outreach effort to teach organic gardening methods.
Now you know where the gardens are, so grab a pair of walking shoes and hit the pavement to reap the benefits of Indy’s harvest!