Producing stronger neighborhoods

Fresh, healthy produce will soon be sprouting up in a Perry Township community garden, in an effort organizers see as an effective neighborhood partnership model.

The community garden is sponsored by Bethany Lutheran, the church with a distinctive curved roof and tall spire at 4702 S. East St. Located around the bustling intersection of U.S. 31 and I-465, the area does not have easy access to grocery stores and fresh goods.

Growing food security

The community garden was funded with a $2,500 grant from Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program, which also donated some of the seeds and plants. Bethany Lutheran has donated the property and will ensure sufficient water to keep the garden growing through harvest time.

According to the grant application, the project has several objectives: to grow food for church neighbors, feed students at the church preschool, educate the community about gardening and harvesting, and produce vegetables preferred by the Chin Burmese who attend the church.

Bruce Bye, of Beech Grove, is the garden ministry coordinator for Bethany Lutheran. A volunteer for South Indy Quality of Life, Bye sought support from the group’s health and wellness action team to develop the project.

Nita McCormick, who is facilitating public meetings at Bethany Lutheran, is neighborhood development specialist for the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center, a collaborator in the garden program. The INRC views the Bethany community garden as a way to grow neighborhood advocacy.

Meet for a meal and get involved

The public meetings offer free meals and child care (see dates below), McCormick said. On Tuesday, April 10, she’ll ask participants for help identifying neighborhood assets that could be used to develop the community. The April 24 public meeting will feature representatives from city-county government, who will describe some of the resources available to neighborhood groups.

The May meetings — scheduled for May 1 and May 22 — will focus on gardening techniques, she said.

Gardening Together, presented by the Purdue Extension Urban Garden Program
Bethany Lutheran Church
4702 S. East St., Indianapolis 46227
April 10, 6 p.m.: Community talk and Master Gardener Q&A
April 24, 6 p.m.: Community talk and Master Gardener Q&A
May 1, 6 p.m.: Garden weeds and diseases
May 22, 6 p.m.: Harvesting your produce

For information, contact Bruce Bye, garden ministry coordinator, at (317) 783-7283.