Grocery store to open in east side food desert

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A new oasis is coming to a food desert near downtown Indianapolis. But it’s going up in a familiar spot.

The new grocery store, called Healthy Harvest Market at Brookside, is getting ready to launch near East 10th Street and Rural Street.

It’s in a building that used to be a grocery store called the Pogue’s Run Grocer, an organic co-op and cafe that lasted seven years until it closed in June 2018.

Since Pogue’s Run Grocer shut its doors for good, it’s not been easy to find fresh fruits and vegetables, so a pair of nonprofits are teaming up to bring a grocery back.

Kenneth King is a former Pogue’s Run Grocer shopper who lives close, “probably five blocks.”

But since Pogue’s Run Grocer closed, it’s more than a mile walk to get to the nearest grocery store, the Kroger on the far side of Sherman Drive, for King. A bottle of milk and a few cans gets heavy quick.

“It’s toting, very hard,” said King.

News 8 saw several people carrying bags and walking along 10th Street. People we talked to call it one of the more dangerous places in the city.

Dee Ross, founder of the Ross Foundation believes that’s no coincidence.

“If you don’t have food in the home, that’s directly correlated to the violence in our community,” Ross said.

But at least one part of the equation is set to change with the launch of Healthy Harvest Market at Brookside.

It’s the brainchild of Ross and Jonathan Lawler, founder of Brandywine Creek Farms. Both are nonprofits.

“The problem is not that we aren’t growing enough,” Lawler said. “Farmers are doing their end. It’s a logistics problem. Food needs to come to where its needed.”

One key difference from Pogue’s Run Grocer is that there will be more than organic here.

There’s a few empty spots on the shelves by design, ready for suggestions from the community to Lawler.

“Not what we think they need, but what they tell us they need,” Lawler said.

The men hope to eventually have home delivery to those who can’t make it to the store, as well as reopen the cafe inside.

They also want to be a food hub and distributor, bringing costs down on produce for other small grocery stores across the city like Cleo’s Bodega on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which Lawler said was an inspiration.

“You provide healthy food, nutritious food, access at an affordable price, I think that makes a huge difference,” he said.

So a man who grew up on a farm and one who grew up on the streets have formed an unlikely partnership, but one bonded by a common mission and vision.

“Skin color don’t mean anything,” Ross said.

But a nondescript storefront might mean just about everything to neighbors like King.

“That’s very nice,” King said.

The soft introductory opening is Saturday at 10 a.m., with a full grand opening sometime in December.

They hope to incorporate a ‘pay it forward’ concept for customers who are willing.

On Thanksgiving Day, they plan to give out 200 Thanksgiving meals at noon.