October 1, 2021

Leaders of urban farming projects work to fight food insecurity

Soul Food Project Executive Director Danielle Guerin shows Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett some of the crops being grown at the farm on Sheldon Street. The site is one of three in the city.  - Sydney Dauphinais/WFYI

Soul Food Project Executive Director Danielle Guerin shows Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett some of the crops being grown at the farm on Sheldon Street. The site is one of three in the city.

Sydney Dauphinais/WFYI

Many families across Indianapolis are struggling to get food on the table, and African Americans are faced with hunger at a 50 percent higher rate than the rest of the population.

In response, city officials are supporting local urban farming programs that provide fresh produce to low-access neighborhoods.

Soul Food Project is a nonprofit urban farm that works to solve food insecurity in the city. The farm is in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, where founder and executive director Danielle Guerin grew up.

“I realized I grew up in a food desert,” Guerin said. “I was kind of blessed that my family had a car and I was able to benefit from driving to the grocery store. But I knew that a lot of my neighbors don't have cars. And so I was like, 'What can I do to help solve this problem?' And so my first thought was, community garden, let's farm.”

Guerin runs the project year-round, growing vegetables like okra, eggplant, and collard. In the summer, kids work in the garden to learn farming and leadership skills.

Mayor Joe Hogsett joined members of the Office of Public Health and Safety Board Thursday morning to tour the garden. The OPHS runs the Seed to Store program, which helps businesses like Soul Food Project provide fresh produce directly to grocery stores with higher rates of food insecurity.

“We want to support urban farming wherever and however, throughout our community, but particularly minority-owned businesses,” said Mayor Hogsett. “This is a good example of an effort to address issues in the community, particularly the African American community.”

Guerin hopes Soul Food Project will continue to expand, with ideas of holding cooking classes and increasing community involvement.

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