Cultivating connection

Adult & Child Community Garden in Perry Townships connects Burmese residents with each other and with fresh foods

Volunteers begin the process of building 20 raised garden beds next to Adult & Child Health at 8320 Madison Ave., Indianapolis. Photos courtesy of Linda Adams.

Volunteers worked throughout May to construct 20 raised garden beds to benefit the Southside’s Burmese population.

The Adult & Child Community Garden in Perry Township was organized by Uchana Thamasak, a team leader in the Neighborhood Mental Health & Addiction Services Program.

“We are about health and mental health,” Thamasak said. “The main reason that I would like to get this project started is as an outreach program, as well as trying to get refugees and immigrants to connect with each other in the community. It’s a social connection to address or decrease social isolation which in turn addresses depression and anxiety. Where they came from, they used to live in an open area. Now they live in an apartment. There might be certain vegetables that are culturally preferred and not readily available in this area. So my goals are to help folks gain access to fresh vegetables and second to help folks get connected to each other.”

The completion of the construction was delayed due to factors such as the weather, but is expected to be finished soon. The 20 beds will be watered with four 55-gallon rain barrels.

Uchana Thamasak leads the community garden project which will benefit the Southside’s Burmese population. *Photo by Meghan McCormick

Participating gardeners will consist of active Adult & Child clients, those belonging to the Chin Baptist Church or the Chin Community center. Ten beds will be assigned to individual, registered families. Each community member is asked to volunteer one hour every two weeks to work in the master garden area. With those 10 beds, the produce cultivated will be donated to local food pantries with Burmese clients.

The project has been supported by Adult & Child executive leaders and employees, guidance of City of Indianapolis Mayor’s Advocate, Allie Kast, and Linda Adams, Purdue Extension Community Wellness Coordinator, Purdue Extension Master Gardeners, and funds from Tyner Pond Farms in Indianapolis, McCarty Mulch and Stone, IU Health Healthy Food Initiative, Indy Urban Acres, Meijer, Walmart, the City of Indianapolis and Franciscan Health.