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On the Edge – Re-inventing Food

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Touch the Soil News #692 (photo courtesy of Lawrence Community Garden)

Federal Government finances seem to always be a few months away from shutdown. But economic shuttering in many areas of the U.S. has become a stark reality.

The small town of Lawrence, Indiana, which is on the edge of the Indianapolis metropolitan area of some 2.5 million people, just happens have some of the largest food deserts in America. A food desert is an area where robust finances, food stores and many jobs have left the scene.

In response to the situation, the Lawrence Community Gardens was born. It is not your typical community garden in that there are no individual plots being rented out. Rather, it is a rather large urban food undertaking that includes a 10-acre garden.

The Lawrence Community Garden is a non-profit that is run 100 percent by volunteers. The goal of the organization is to make access to fresh food are reality (even if much of it is free) in what is at present the nation’s largest food desert.

Monarch Distributing, Indiana’s largest beer and wine distributor, has a large 500,000 square foot distribution center in Lawrence on land that used to be a farm. Monarch stepped forward and is allowing the Lawrence Community Garden to use land it owns to create what ultimately will be a 10-acre community garden.

The Lawrence Community Garden uses local land and local volunteers in order to create a food system that is accessible and affordable, even if it is outside the financial/industrial food chain. The food garden is in walking distance of 20,000 people and will produce enough food to provide 13,000 people with the USDA recommended serving of fruits and vegetables.

The inference of the Lawrence Community Garden is stark: When finance is unable to connect people with food, people must grow their own food. This reality is visiting entire nations around the world. The FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations) has identified over 46 countries around the world whose economic systems are falling short of feeding people.

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