Parks Foundation plans east-side farm for Gleaners

The Indianapolis Parks Foundation plans to use a $150,000 grant from Indiana University Health to start an organic farm on the east side of the city benefiting Gleaners Food Bank.

The farm is one of two new projects the foundation announced Thursday at its annual fundraiser, the Mayor's Lunch for Parks. The other is a $75,000 matching grant from CVS Caremark to build a universally accessible playground at Wes Montgomery Park on the northeast side of Indianapolis.

The playground won't be installed until the foundation raises the remaining $75,000, said Lori Hazlett, community affairs director.

The farm will be on 8 acres off 21st Street, just east of the Interstate 465/70 interchange. Part of the site was previously used for gravel storage and staging during highway construction, and the state donated it to Indy Parks in 2007, Hazlett said.

Gleaners CEO Cindy Hubert declined to comment on the project ahead of Thursday's event. Gleaners and other food banks around the country are trying to put more fresh food on pantry shelves. Hazlett said IU Health made the grant to help fight diabetes and obesity.

The new farm won't be expected to produce any food for Gleaners until this fall, Hazlett said. The two-year grant from IU Health will allow the parks foundation to hire a farm manager this month and cover other start-up expenses. "To sustain it, we're going to have to have funders," she said.

The playground that's planned for Wes Montgomery Park on 34th Street is from Boundless Playgrounds, a not-for-profit that designs and builds playgrounds that are accessible to children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as hearing and visual impairments.

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