Inside INdiana Business

Expanded community garden to support food desert

(rendering courtesy of Synthesis Inc.)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The American Heart Association has broken ground on an expanded community garden in the Hillside neighborhood on the near north side of Indianapolis. The association says the improvements will help provide fresh produce in a designated food desert.

The AHA says the land near 20th Street and Hillside Avenue has had some form of a garden for most of the last 80 years. However, plans were recently put in place by the association and the land owner, Shirley Webster, to expand the garden in an effort to create a larger community impact.

The AHA tapped sponsor companies to help with the construction of the garden, including Bowen Engineering, DEEM, the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, Messer Construction, Pepper Construction and architecture firm Synthesis Inc.

“I’m grateful to be able to host this community garden as a way to improve the lives of my neighbors,” Webster said in a news release. “I want to thank the American Heart Association for bringing all these companies together to create something that will have a lasting impact on so many people.”

The association says the land has been tilled and staked, and it is currently in the process of obtaining the necessary permits for drainage and further construction. 

The finished garden will cover more than 10,000 square feet and will include a storage shed. The sponsor companies will install electrical and plumbing over the next few months while raised garden beds will be built in an indoor facility and moved to the garden in time for spring planting.

“Our mission is to help people live longer, healthier lives,” said Dr. Jerry Smartt, a member of the AHA’s Indianapolis board of directors. “This garden not only enables people in the Hillside area to have access to fresh, healthy foods, but it has grown out of a program that helps people monitor and control their blood pressure – a leading risk factor of heart attack and stroke.”

The AHA says it is still looking for individuals or companies willing to donate money or materials to fulfill the garden’s lumber needs.