Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Thanks to Jack & Kim Johnson and their dedicated crew

Growing Places Indy is extremely grateful to Jack Johnson and his All At Once program and crew. It was really an amazing experience to be selected to participate, and to be challenged to raise $2500 before October 1st. They strongly encourage engaging the community in raising the funds, and we have work to be creative in our approach. We organized a film screening and a yoga class, and our Farm Stand in the Slow Food Garden at White River State Park has made produce available by-donation. We have also received generous contributions from others who could not make a specific event. Thank you all!

On Friday, July 23rd, we had the opportunity to have a booth space in the All At Once Village Green at Jack Johnson's concert at Verizon. We'd gotten our first t-shirt order the day before, so we took those, along with some brochures, a little info board, and some produce to attract folks to our table. The All At Once program uses a wonderful "passport" idea to get concert goers to explore the organizations in the Village Green, as well as encouraging them to consider other actions they can take for a more sustainable lifestyle on their own. From the time the doors opened (actually even before from All At Once workers & volunteers) we had a constant stream of people interested in our husk cherries, our t-shirts, and/or the work of Growing Places Indy. We received $609.59 in donations (including $15 donations for all 30 t-shirts we had)! We remain energized and truly amazed by this experience.

Jack Johnson took the time to come out and introduce himself, chat, and take a picture with each organization. Growing Places Indy and Big City Farms had sold his catering folks food for their Friday night meal earlier that morning. He also told us he and his wife celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on July 22nd with dinner at R-Bistro. They had enjoyed husk cherries from the Slow Food Garden there as well. While we may not have another opportunity to be an All At Once partner again, we certainly hope we can continue to provide Jack Johnson and others with "good, clean, fair" food whenever they visit Indianapolis.

Not every "big name" musician chooses to engage in the purchase of local food or eat at local restaurants. Fewer still donate 100% of tour profits to charity, as does Jack Johnson. Probably even fewer invest in the work of connecting their fans to local non-profit organizations doing work to support environmental, art and music education. Jack Johnson and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation do all of the above, and probably more than that as well. It is also impressive that through the All At Once program fans of Jack Johnson and the local non-profits are encouraged to show their support directly by donating to those organizations, and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation then matches the funds donated up to $2500.

For all the conversations, opportunities to share and receive, and the wonderful example of leadership, we offer our sincere gratitude to Jack Johnson, All At Once and the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Many thanks this weekend

Many thanks to everyone who came out to our events this weekend to support Growing Places Indy, while stretching your bodies and minds to new lengths!

We had an intimate showing of FRESH the documentary at Perk-Up Cafe on Friday, followed by thoughtful conversation and some great questions. Congrats to Diane & Peter who won the Jack Johnson concert tickets that evening, and special thanks to our gracious hosts - Alice & Jeanette. We raised $85 in donations!

Sunday afternoon we had a small, but hard working group of volunteers show up in
the rain for our Slow Food Garden @WRSP work day. With Kelly Funk on our hearts and in our minds, we took the KIB truck, tools and materials into the shelther of the parking garage and made great strides in the construction of our 2nd compost bin! Sara, Audrey and Samantha also gave a stellar presentation on composting to those in attendance.

Sunday evening 30 yogis came out for the benefit class at Invoke Studio.
We shared a lovely evening of yoga, and raised $385 in donations!
Congrats to Dawn, Cary and Andrea who won the evening's Jack Johnson concert
ticket raffle.

All in all that's $470 that will be matched by the Johnson Ohana
Charitable Foundation
, which means a total of $940 to continue our
"growing" efforts.

You can make a donation to Growing Places Indy and have it matched by Jack Johnson until we reach our $2500 goal by emailing Laura Henderson at

Thanks again to everyone for the tremendous support and encouragement!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


By Growing Places Indy Intern, Audrey Brinkers:
I used to hate soil. I didn't like the way it crowded my cuticles, making my boyish hands look more masculine. I didn't like the way it morphed into a slimy residue, shimmering on my arms, forehead, and even the skin behind my ears. I didn't like its unknown contents, consisting of everything from bugs to twigs to the remains of my deceased labrador. And I didn't like its plainess in comparison to the beautiful vegetables and flowers that burst forth from its boring brown expanse. But from a challenging Enivronmenal Science class, my time spent with the Herron High School Garden Club, and, finally, my internship at Growing Places, I've learned the wonders of soil, allowing me to appreciate every grain of silt, sand, or loam.
I admire now my dirty hands, rough from a day of pulling thistle. I've gotten used to sweat and mud combinations, and am finally (after eighteen years) able see the reason in showering. I find it fascinating that soil holds so much, each horizon offering a different composition. And I've realized that soil isn't quite so plain. If I've gained anything from the garden, it's the knowledge that those simple things are more complex than I've ever antipated, and I'm eager to learn it all.

Audrey graduated in 2010 from Herron High School, and she will be attending Reed College in the Fall.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More words from our interns....

We want you to hear from our interns what they are learning, what they are thinking about, and how their Growing Places Indy internship is influencing the way they think about food and farming.

From Stuart Harvey:

7/4/2010 - As an intern at Growing Places Indy, I have begun to see society in a way that is far less like a spectator and more like an active participant. Being a consumer in America makes you feel as if you have so many choices and so much control over the things you buy. Yet, there still fails to be healthy, organic, sustainable food options in the cities we live in while we continue to have the resources to cultivate. Working at the garden at White River State Park allows me to participate in a garden that promotes all of these attributes that our food systems lack as well as help spread awareness of better ways to get the food we eat everyday. Taking part in such a project allows me to practice and support a food system that I believe in by trying to make a difference in a society filled with industrial agriculture, even if it is in the smallest way. Carrying out what I believe in makes me feel empowered. This sense of empowerment gives me a sense of hope and belief for our future not only in Indianapolis, but in America for what our food systems could look like. Growing Places Indy has allowed me to envision it.

Stuart Harvey is a junior at Butler University studying Education. Stuart hopes to bring his experience in urban farming to his future teaching career, both in the classroom, and from schoolyard gardens to school cafeterias.

From Sara Swan:

7/4/2010 - I, first, am a food person. I prefer grocery stores to malls, and have been known to spend an inordinate amount of time reading cookbooks. However, it wasn’t until this summer that I really understood the world behind what I was eating. Formerly, farming in my mind was the iconic farmer on a tractor in a field of corn, and that was it. Then one day my English teacher announced the opportunity to intern with Growing Places, and I found myself in this network of urban farmers (who, for obvious reasons tend to not use tractors), city gardens (with no corn anywhere in sight), and local chefs with a desire for the freshest, healthiest vegetables. I learned how much weeding goes into maintaining an organic garden, that there are beets that are actually not red, and just how passionate people are for what truly is becoming a movement. The only problem with this new-found awareness is that now I am aware of how much I have to learn, from the politics of using a college farm’s produce in the cafeteria, to when to plant certain crops, to soil chemistry. The exciting part of this internship, though, is that everywhere there are people who are willing to share their knowledge, always with a genuine excitement for helping others feel that same enthusiasm for growing produce. Besides gaining some knowledge of farming, I have also developed a sense of connection with the everyday food I eat. I now wonder how the vegetables and fruit I eat are grown, and feel more conscious of the many implications of what I eat and of the food system that brought that food to those grocery stores I so adore.

Sara Swan graduated in June from Herron High School. She’ll be starting college at Beloit College this fall where she plans to study Sociology.

From Samantha Atkins' lastest blog post for the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University:

When the Most Interesting Thing is Interest...

7/11/2010 When asked to think about what has been the most interesting or surprising thing about working with Growing Places Indy this summer, as I was recently asked by one of the founders of the non-profit, Laura Henderson, my first thought was about how many people are interested in growing food, especially myself. Raised in a rural area but “in town” nonetheless, I was always around farms (big, mechanized ones mainly) and was also simultaneously led away from that lifestyle and encouraged to pursue education in literature, science, music, what have you. By many of the kids who lived in town, farming was considered a “poor people” thing. My goal, whether I could tell you about it or not, was to have a job where I could stay out of the sun and out of the dangers of farming.
Read the rest of Samantha's blog post here.

Samantha graduated from Butler University with a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish. She will be moving to Spain for graduate school in August.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Upcoming July Events & Fundraising matched by Jack Johnson!

Friday, July 16th @ 6-7:30 p.m. - Join us at Perk-Up Cafe 6536 Cornell Ave in Broad Ripple for a screening of the film FRESH, a feel-good movie about the local food movement nationwide. Admission is by any donation amount of your choosing.* Every $5 donation enters you in a raffle for TWO FREE tickets to the July 23rd Jack Johnson concert at Verizon.

Sunday, July 18 @ 1-4 p.m. - Community Workday in the Slow Food Garden (1-3 p.m.) + Backyard Composting Workshop (3-4 p.m.) FREE plus we provide water, tea and garden fresh snacks. At White River State Park in the Slow Food Garden. Address and directions here.

Sunday, July 18 @ 6:15-7:30 p.m. - Yoga Class to benefit Growing Places Indy. GPI co-director and certified yoga instructor, Laura Henderson, will lead an open level yoga class in her uniquely contemplative and provoking way that invites us to consider our actions, our voices, our choices. Participation is by any donation amount of your choosing.* Every $5 donation enters you in a raffle for TWO FREE tickets to the July 23rd Jack Johnson concert at Verizon. Invoke Studio, 970 Fort Wayne Ave. Suite C, Indianapolis 46202,

* As an All At Once partner, your donation to Growing Places Indy will be matched up to $2500 by the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation through October 2010. 100% of Jack Johnson's 2008 tour profits were used to establish the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, an endowment founded by Jack and Kim Johnson to support environmental, art and music education now and into the future. As part of the 2010 world tour, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation will offer direct and matching donations to All At Once partner non-profits. Jack Johnson will once again donate 100% of his 2010 tour profits to charity.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Words from our Interns

Two of the Growing Places Indy interns, Sara & Audrey, are also working at the Herron High School Garden located in the back yard of the Indiana Humanities Council. Tyler and I helped the IHC set up the garden last year, and have been delighted to work with the IHC and the newly established Herron High School gardening club to turn the management of the garden over to them. Sara and Audrey are helping to establish a plan for how the HHS gardening club will maintain the garden for the future, and writing about their experiences for the IHC Food for Thought blog.

The following post is what they wrote last week. After reading this, I am ready to declare our first intern season a success. This is one example of why we do what we do.

Posted July 2, 2010 From the Soil to the Table, Eating Food without a Label

Beyond the Indiana Humanities Council-Herron High School garden, we also work in the Growing Places Slow Food Garden at White River State Park. The garden, 6,000-square-feet of pesticide-free produce, is used to train future urban farmers (including yours truly—well, maybe), to grow crops for sale to businesses and passerby, and to promote local food culture. Along with the necessary weeding and harvesting, we get to visit various food-related businesses, non-profits, and local legends in an effort to learn about the far-reaching effects of our food choices. In doing so, we have noticed our habits and ways of thinking changing steadily.

Once upon a time, we used to nap after our meals (yes, even those at school—Herron has a wonderful lawn for sleeping). This summer however, marks a new era. Now, following delicious local lunches, we bike. Take today for example, in which vegetarian chef Becky Hostetter prepared a scrumptious composition consisting of beet salad, greens and zucchini cheese sandwiches (with crusty, airy homemade bread) for Growing Places. Following such a delicious, decidedly local spread, she revealed her ice cream made from berries found throughout the neighborhood, nestled next to her pillowy lemon cake. Then, we mournfully left such a pleasant dining experience to hop on our bikes to come blog.

Despite being unbelievably delicious, the food carries even deeper significance for us, since Growing Places planted, weeded and harvested much of the vegetables we have been enjoying lately. To watch that journey from the soil to the table creates an enriching connection with the everyday act of eating, and with the earth itself. Because of this new-found sentiment, we have made our own attempts at cooking with local food. Last Friday brought about an unexpected appreciation for turnips, which we mashed with potatoes, carrots, oregano, rosemary, basil and parsley. We’ve also been munching on flavorful broccoli from the White River Garden (especially when it’s dipped in homemade hummus) and raspberries from Sara’s garden. Hopefully, this delectable trend will continue.