Creative Solutions to Reverse Indianapolis' Healthy Food Accessibility Trends

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $23,648.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: The Elephant Gardens
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Joyce Randolph
The Elephant Gardens


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), leeks, okra, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, crop rotation, greenhouses, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, row covers (for season extension), seed saving, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, community-supported agriculture, e-commerce, farmers' markets/farm stands, new enterprise development, value added
  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides, mulches - general, physical control, prevention, row covers (for pests), weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community services, employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, quality of life, social capital, social networks, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    The food accessibility in Indianapolis is worsening and the chronic health issues that are part and parcel to food deserts are also on the increase. Within the African American community, the statistics relating to both issues are comparatively worse than among White and Hispanic populations. Inasmuch as the Elephant Gardens is located within a designated food desert, we are in a unique position to address these problems by focusing primarily on two vulnerable groups: the Elderly -especially those residing in senior living facilities and the youth -particularly those residing in the Elephant Gardens neighborhood. Our innovative plan involves the establishment of a Mobile Food Farmacy which will bring fresh produce (including educational "produce prescription cards) to 4 senior living facilities within a 5-mile radius of the EG, and an on-site Health and Beauty Bodega. We would expand our TLC 4-H club  Junior Master Gardner curriculum by adding both advanced training for our 4-H volunteers and by exposing the 4-H youth to the entrepreneurial aspects of farming-specifically value-added methods (freeze-drying, dehydration) and products (honey, herbal teas, herbs). Additionally, efforts to grow more nutrient-dense produce by focusing on the "seed-to starter-plant" process, and by incorporating organic soil amendments, will also be employed.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Increase the accessibility of nutrient-dense produce to urban residents who are most adversely affected by grocery store closures and transportation limitations- with a special focus on residents of senior living facilities.
    2. Increase the knowledge and understanding -of both the young and old- of the health and beauty benefits to eating more fresh, locally grown organic produce.
    3. To expose and educate the youth to the methods and techniques of growing and harvesting nutrient-rich produce, and to also demonstrate the entrepreneurial opportunities of value-added products.
    4. To promote food accessibility, job creation, and neighborhood beautification by inspiring, training others to establish urban farms. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.