Growing Places Indy: Summer events sprouting / And thoughts from two ‘community practitioners

GPI celebrated another Community Garden Kick-off Party on May 11 at The Legacy Center. The event hosted the community to come volunteer at the farm, paint a mural and enjoy food and music with DJ Rickey Fontaine.

By William Skaggs / Growing communications manager

Summertime is here and Growing Places Indy has many activities to keep the family and community active, healthy and committed to locally grown produce.

New for 2024, GPI is now offering “U-Pick and Yoga” at the White River State Park Community Garden on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Take time out to put time back into your own health and well-being. Join GPI and Centers of Wellness for Urban Women for Yoga and enjoy a rotating schedule of skilled instructors for yoga. Then harvest some produce fresh from the garden to take home. There is no charge to participate. Donations are always welcome

Every Thursday, visit the GPI Bicycle Farm Stand at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center from 2 to 5 p.m. for “Food in Transit.” This program provides fresh, affordable and locally-grown produce, provided by Growing Places Indy, to current and future transit riders. All produce is free of charge, but donations are gladly accepted.

There are more ways to volunteer your time with GPI. For more information, please visit: https://www.growingplacesindy.org/volunteer.

PHOTO ABOVE: GPI celebrated another Community Garden Kick-off Party on May 11 at The Legacy Center. The event hosted the community to come volunteer at the farm, paint a mural and enjoy food and music with DJ Rickey Fontaine.

* FOOD IS LOVE

By Shamira Wilson / Growing Places community practitioner

For me, food is a love language. Putting together a recipe. Recreating a family dish. Sharing a meal in community with friends and neighbors. And the moment when someone tastes a dish and there is silence, only mouths chewing, and smiles. Or dancing in dining chairs. You know it’s good. 

Yes, sharing food as love is a thing we can do for those we care about. And nourishing ourselves with nutrient dense food is a way to show love to ourselves. I believe that the love we show ourselves radiates outward and impacts those around us.

Shamira Wilson

On this leg of my farming journey I’m thinking about how food and farming in community can be restorative. I was drawn to the Growing Community Practitioner program at Growing Places Indy to continue a praxis and ethic of care and nourishment. This year, I’m thinking more deeply about a culture of care. Can it exist? What does it look and feel like? How do folks feel within it and around me?

On my current journey with health and weightlifting, I have experienced a mindset shift from what needs to be lost, which usually applies to body fat, to what can be gained – muscle.

I think about that often with food, too. There are times within our relationship to food that there can be an emphasis on what someone needs to remove from their diets. I want to shift that to also think about what we can gain from trying new foods, and creating an experience around that process itself that is joyful, exciting, and nourishing.

For example: Have you ever tried okra raw? Next time you come across a fresh pod, I encourage you to try it. It might change your life, or at least maybe your palette and your gut biome. 

Gut health impacts our whole body health from our immune response regulation to our brains. I’m excited to share new food varieties and dishes within the community and to think about all of the ways we can prepare some of the simplest ingredients. 

This winter, my farming partner and good friend, Manón Voice, and I are traveling to the Caribbean to participate in an immersive Afro-Caribbean farming program. Upon our return we plan to host a gathering to share about this unique immersive experience, and how we plan to activate what we learned.

We know that community is essential in doing impactful work around food justice, food access, and food sovereignty, but the community is also essential to the work of mind and body healing, belonging, and reclamation, all of which we hope to integrate into our present and future work around food, farming and wellness. 

We are asking for support in the form of donations, to support our participation in the immersive program. Donations can support participation in an Immersive Afro-Caribbean Farming and Sustainability Program: https://bit.ly/3R10lms.

* WE CAN ALL GROW HERE

By Myranda/Rand Warden / Growing community practitioner

Mutual aid projects let us practice meeting our own and each other’s needs, based in shared commitments to dignity, care, and justice. They let us practice coordinating our actions together with the belief that all of us matter and that we should all get to participate in the solutions to our problems. They let us realize that we know best how to address the crises we face.”Dean Spade, Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis

When I first started teaching about mutual aid in 2018 or so, it was mostly a new concept to my classes. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – along with the righteous uprisings against the violence against Black lives – have dramatically shifted the discourse.

Myranda/Rand Warden

Mutual aid projects erupted everywhere, being organized by our families and chosen families, pods and polycules, neighborhoods, and communities outside of institutions. Mutual aid is an ancient indigenous practice and process employed by Black and Brown liberation movements across time and space. Mutual aid can be found anywhere folks are surviving, and daring to thrive, in the face of oppression and destruction.

We see the magic of mutual aid locally through the amazing work of DeAndrea Rayner’s coordination of the Indy Community Pantry as well as Indy10’s No Questions Asked pantry.

When institutions fail us, mutual aid gives us a path through and clarity on what kind of world we’re capable of building together. This is why I am part of Growing Places Indy’s Growing Community Practitioner program and what we are learning and practicing together.

I am a trans and queer Hoosier and social worker who has been living, loving, and working with/in Indy’s LGBTQIA+ community, my community, for more than 15 years.

For me, the weight of the world gets lighter when my hands are in soil. There are neurological reasons for that we can now cite, but that indigenous wisdom has taught throughout time. When we connect with the land, we connect with ourselves, and then are able to connect with the people near to us. As trans and queer Hoosiers trying to survive and daring to thrive in this political moment, I am inviting my community to connect with the soil, to connect with ourselves, and to connect with one another.

I am hoping to use what I am learning in the Growing Community Practitioner program about the soil, about the land where we’re rooted but never has belonged to us, and about how to best cultivate growth within our specific environment to co-coordinate a trans/queer community garden here in Indy.

Not only would the act of gardening together literally heal and connect us, but we would also be growing fresh produce to combat food insecurity within our community, and co-creating a space where we can just be. The potential reach of this project is boundless from my vantage, but mutual aid projects are not done alone.

So, dear community, do you want to grow a garden with me? Do you want to see what happens when we scatter seeds, nourish their growth, and harvest the (fruity) fruits of our labor with and for our community? Together, we can still grow here.

If you’re interested in becoming involved, please fill out this brief survey (https://forms.gle/78jDkz3Ej8nkkytF9) or contact the author directly at randwarden@gmail.com.