A new report called the State of the Food System marks the first collaborative attempt by a group of agencies to gather information on the food system in Marion County.
Emily Toner is an Urban Agriculture Educator at Purdue Extension, and co-edited the report.
Toner says urban farms and gardens are growing in popularity. The projects don’t produce enough to address food insecurity, but Toner says urban farms are about more than just food.
"They help build community, they improve the quality of the environment," Toner says. "And they do positively affect the health of people who are managing the spaces and engaging in gardening and farming, but also positively impact the health of the people who consume that produce."
The report highlights local groups involved in urban farming, including TeenWorks and Indy Urban Acres.
Toner says a lack of local data makes it hard to know exactly what impact urban farms have had on food insecurity, which worsened overall since 2014.
"So Purdue Extension Marion County’s undertaking a community-based agriculture census, so we can actually dig in and get that really good quality local data that we need to talk about agriculture, and who’s growing food in Marion County," Toner says.
The report states that in 2015, 71,000 children and 24,000 senior citizens lived in Marion County neighborhoods with limited food access.
Over 30 people contributed to the full report, which covers changes in food waste, food access, health, agriculture and the food economy.
It was released by the Indy Food Council.