INDIANAPOLIS – Together, E.F. Transit and Monarch Beverage have donated six acres of land for use as a community garden at 46th Street and Post Road. The garden, managed by Lawrence Community Gardens, is the first garden of its kind to take root on the east side and is in the heart of the largest food desert in the country. Approximately 800 pounds of food per week is expected – enough to provide over 13,000 residents with their daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. A large portion of each harvest will stock the shelves of two local food pantries.
“We felt it was our social responsibility to help provide the community with healthy food options,” said E.F. Transit and Monarch Beverage CEO, Phil Terry. “The garden will give those without access to transportation an opportunity to provide themselves and their children with fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.”
CEO and Chief Grower at Lawrence Community Gardens, Sharrona Moore, says they’ll begin growing immediately on two acres with plans to grow on all six acres by year five. A large portion of each harvest will benefit The Cupboard and The Sharing Place. Their goal: donate a minimum of 20,000 pounds of produce to the pantries every year.
“I live in Lawrence and understand the struggle of accessing healthy food. Many residents can only get to the grocery store once per month which leads them to buy highly processed, unhealthy foods,” said Moore. “And, produce is often close-dated or expired by the time it makes it to the pantries. At Lawrence Community Gardens, our primary goal is to provide long-lasting produce to all residents because everyone deserves to eat healthy – regardless of income level.”
Tiling and planting is scheduled to begin in late March with the first harvest expected in April. Common fruits and vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, pumpkin, and watermelon will be planted as well as more exotic plants like rainbow carrots and peanuts.
“We are very excited to start planting, harvesting and educating,” said Moore. “Through education and community support, we will help our residents learn to lead healthy lifestyles and even grow some produce in their own backyards!”
Initially, all produce remaining after the pantry donation will be sold at local farmer’s markets. By mid-summer they plan to have an on-site market, picnic structure and provide a “You Pick For Free” section. The City of Lawrence has donated the picnic structure and water hook-up.
“We are pleased to partner with Monarch and E.F. Transit to help create a sustainable community garden,” said City of Lawrence Mayor, Steve Collier. “This new initiative should benefit many Lawrence citizens and we appreciate the opportunity to contribute to its success.”
Lawrence Community Gardens is seeking additional funding for tiling, plants and gardening supplies. A GoFundMe account is setup at www.gofundme.com/LawrenceCommunityGardens. As a member of the corporate community, Monarch Beverage supports Healthy Food Financing Initiatives like those being supported by Senator Randy Head and the Indiana Healthy Food Access Coalition.
Food Deserts are defined by the USDA as:
- Locations void of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods
- Typically found in impoverished areas lacking grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers
- Where residents must travel 1+ miles in urban area to get groceries or 10+ miles in rural areas