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2013 Forty Under 40: Laura E. Henderson

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“I hope to give back to the community by offering empowerment, inspiration and encouragement to the people who interact with Growing Places Indy—be they volunteers, summer program participants, customers, board members, donors or others—and with the Indy Winter Farmers Market—be they vendors, customers, sponsors or others—and with the people who come to my yoga classes.”

Age: 34

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.•

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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