Executive Director, Growing Places Indy
As founder and executive director of Growing Places Indy, Laura Henderson sees the big picture. People making healthier food choices feel better, and when many people feel better, the result is a healthier community.
Her most visible achievement is the Slow Food Garden at White River State Park. The produce raised there is sold to people participating in a weekly community-supported agriculture program.
Indianapolis Winter Farmers’ Market was launched by Henderson in 2008. After moving from one location to another for several years, it settled in City Market.
“I had no idea what to expect,” recalled Henderson. In 2008, there were 19 vendors and 350 people showed up. The original seven-week season stretched into 24 weeks.
“Our food systems have shifted so dramatically in the last 50 years” that people want smaller-scale agricultural choices, said Henderson, who has a home garden, keeps chickens and raises bees. Growing up in Louisville, Ky., she was influenced by her parents, who usually had a vegetable garden and were excellent cooks.
Her healthy lifestyle includes teaching yoga, meditation and using her bicycle to get around town.
“I’ve never been able to focus on one thing,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in how all of the different disciplines connect.”
While attending Butler University, she studied abroad, researching nutrition intervention and government schools in Tasmania, Australia.
“That was one of the things that got me thinking of food and its impact on us, how we develop as people, the truth behind the cliché ‘we are what we eat,’” said Henderson.
She added that she’s fortunate her husband Tyler’s work in international education leaves him free in the summers to be her farm manager.
“Our mission is to cultivate human potential,” she said.•