Growing Places Indy High School Supervised Agricultural Experience

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2016: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2018
Grant Recipient: Growing Places Indy
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Manager:
Tyler Henderson
Growing Places Indy


No commodities identified


  • Education and Training: youth education

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Abstract

    For five years, Growing Places Indy (GPI) has run a summer urban farming apprenticeship for individuals 18 years and older. The proposed project is modeled off the success of that program, but it is designed specifically as a six-week supervised agricultural experience for four high school students. Students will be involved in all aspects of the GPI farm including farm planning, planting, maintenance, harvest and distribution. They will also work on other urban farms, meet leaders in the food and farming movement, and have the opportunity to fully engage in the Indianapolis food system.

    Detailed Project Plan

    We anticipate students will work an average of 15 hours per week during the 6-week apprenticeship for a total of 90 hours of direct work and learning. The three pillars of sustainable agriculture are embedded into the farming practices of Growing Places Indy and will be taught to students in the following ways:

    Economically Viable – GPI is a non-profit organization, however our farm operates effectively as production farm in order to bolster financial sustainability. We have four sites secured in Indianapolis totaling close to two acres of production with an extremely diversified distribution network of more than 30 restaurants, an on-site farm stand and U Pick section, a CSA and sales through a farmers market. We have a year-round growing model with two climate-controlled greenhouses (for microgreens growing), one mobile high tunnel as well as other season extension techniques. After accounting for expenses, all additional funds are reinvested in the educational work of our organization. Students will be exposed to all the economic decision making processes, revenue models and expenses of our farming operation.

    Ecologically Sound – Though not certified organic, we use beyond organic standards in all our farming practices as an investment in the long term health and viability of our soil and farming operation. We do not use any synthetic fertilizers, and use chemical free methods for pest, weed and disease control. Students will experience hands-on learning about methods for soil health and fertility from us, from farmers visited on farm work experience days, and from Purdue Extension and Marion County Soil and Water Conservation experts in soil health. In addition, students will learn about water conservation through a large rain barrel project we have implemented at one GPI site.

    Socially Responsible – The mission of GPI is to empower individuals to Be Well - vibrant, healthy, thriving. Our motto is Grow well, Eat well, Live well, Be well. We grow well in support of the environment, so that people can eat well in support of their health, so that they can live well as contributors to a vibrant and thriving community. All our farm sites are in high traffic areas to serve as an educational resource and model to the general public, in addition to individuals engaged in one of our programs. Students will meet, and work with, urban farmers throughout the city and leaders in the farming, food and social justice movement in Indianapolis.

    A rough draft of our six-week curriculum includes weekly farm tours, “Lunch & Learn” panel discussions, and hands-on agricultural lessons in addition to the ins and outs of daily farming and farm business:

    Week One – Farm visit to South Circle farm; panel discussion on the state of agriculture in Indiana; agricultural lesson on Planning a Diversified Farm for Year Round Growing

    Week Two – Farm visit to Indy Urban Acres; panel discussion on the impact of food desserts; agricultural lesson on soil testing and soil health by the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation

    Week Three – Farm visit to Paramount School of Excellence; panel discussion on Farm to School; agricultural less on The Role of Pollinators in Agriculture

    Week Four – Farm visit to Eskenazi Hospital Sky Farm; panel discussion on institutional purchasing of local products; agricultural lesson on Season Extension

    Week Five – Farm visit to Felege Hiywot; panel discussion on eating for health; agricultural lesson on Perennial Crops

    Week Six – Farm visit to the CUE Farm at Butler University; panel discussion on the impacts of urban agriculture on urban ecology; agricultural lesson on Cover Cropping

    Resources Used

    In addition to the weekly farm visits and the network of contacts gained through weekly panel discussions and agricultural lessons, students will have weekly required readings and “listenings” (videos, podcasts, etc.) that will be discussed each work week.

    A sample of some of these are as follows:


    The New Organic Grower – Eliot Coleman

    Four Season Harvest – Eliot Coleman

    The Market Gardener – Jean Marie Fourtier

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma - Michael Pollan

    Turn Here, Sweet Corn - Atina Difley

    Food and the City - Jennifer Cockrall-King

    The Third Plate - Dan Barber

    In Defense of Food -Michael Pollan

    Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America - Laura Sayre Organic

    Farmer’s Business Handbook - Richard Wiswall

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver


    Dan Barber--Sustainable Fish:

    Greenhorn Radio: Episode 150 - Luke Gran (Practical Farmers of Iowa)

    The Farm Report: Episode 234 - Added Value Farm farm-report/e/the-farm-report-episode-234-added-value-farm-inside-school-38290257

    The Farm Report Episode 216: Avoiding Waste on the Farm or the Plate: waste-on-the-farm-on-36641350

    Chef’s Garden with Farmer Lee Jones of-the-chef-s-garden


    Students will be required to plan and execute a final presentation that will be open to the public and hosted at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center (location of our primary farming site). This presentation will require students to reflect on lessons learned throughout the program and ask them to demonstrate how the program has impacted their knowledge of farming and the role food plays in their lives. The day-to-day activities of the high school students will be documented on the various Growing Places Indy social media platforms (with more than 10,000 contacts). In addition, students will be asked to write a 200-300 word reflection on their experience for the GPI weekly e-newsletter (distribution over 3,000).

    Facebook -
    Twitter - @GrowingPlacesIN
    Instagram - growingplacesindy

    Furthermore, students will have weekly interactions with the public through restaurant deliveries, CSA pickups, farm stand sales, U Pick hours and farmers market vending.

    Student and Community Impact

    As suggested, these are small grants so the ability to measure impact should be conducted using simple measures. We have already generated pre and post apprenticeship surveys for our current apprenticeship program, which have been effective in the design of the program related to knowledge gained and lessons learned. We will use similar surveys designed specifically for the high school students. In addition, head counts will be important for us to measure and these will include:

    - Number of farmers and food business owners met (including a list of names and businesses/organizations) - Number of community stakeholders met (including a list of names and businesses/organizations)

    - Number of volunteers worked with

    - Number of attendees of student final presentation

    - Social media measures: “Likes” and shares of posts about student experiences

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Engage high school students in all dimensions of running a sustainable urban farming operation from planning to planting, harvesting, marketing and community engagement through 6-week summer apprenticeships with Growing Places Indy.
    2. Pursue with students Growing Places Indy's mission to grow healthy food and model sustainable agriculture for the community.
    3. Extend the impact of students' learning to a wider audience through student presentations about farming and food open to the public and documentation of activities on Growing Places Indy's social media platforms and in its newsletter.
    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.