Build Indy Follow-Up: Growing Places Indy

Written by Abby Nieten on December 17, 2013

Posted in Case Studies

Can you believe it’s been almost seven months since our Build Indy “Celebrate the City” event in May? If you couldn’t make it, Formstack hosted an “all-things-Indy” celebration, complete with a local goods auction and a cash award to three local organizations. Two organizations, decided by audience vote, split all of the funds collected at the door and through our silent auction, while one winner (decided by a panel of judges) received a $5,000 prize.

We followed up with the three winners and plan to spotlight each of them on the Formstack blog this week. Today’s post features Growing Places Indy, one of the two Crowd Favorite winners.

Spotlight: Growing Places Indy, Laura Henderson

Describe your overall experience at the Build Indy “Celebrate the City” party on May 16.
Growing Places Indy enjoyed participating in the Build Indy “Celebrate the City” party on May 16, 2013. It was a festive environment and the audience was not only respectful of all the presenters, but seemed genuinely interested to learn more about the various ideas and projects. For us, it was also an opportunity to share a bit of our story with many people who were new to our work and programs.

What were some immediate reactions from your friends and coworkers after hearing that you’d won a Build Indy crowd favorite prize?
We had a good showing of volunteers, staff, board members, summer apprentices and friends present at the event, so it was really exciting to be able to share the win with all of them. The response on Facebook and Twitter was enthusiastic, and of course our staff, board members and others who were not able to be at the event were delighted when we shared the good news with them.

How have you used the Build Indy prize money to improve your organization or the Indy community?
We presented about the Growing Places Indy Summer Apprenticeship Program, and how we would invest the grant in that program. The grant contributed to providing ten individuals with a life-changing 10-week program that is helping those individuals to be the change they seek in their life, homes, work and our community. In addition, the experience of “Celebrate the City” became a platform for teaching apprentices about the power and importance of sharing with authenticity, clarity of message, knowing your audience, and simply being willing to tell your story and ask others to support your vision. The 2013 apprentices put this into practice themselves in their own online fundraising campaign that raised over $3,000 in 8 weeks. The $1275 grant became leverage for us as both a teaching opportunity and to raise additional funds. In addition, our experience with “Celebrate the City” helped us to understand the potential influence of social media to share your story/message/work. Because of this, we have hired our of the 2013 apprentices to manage social media for Growing Places Indy, and the results have been phenomenal.

What is the one thing you have accomplished since May that you are most proud of?
Growing Places Indy has been fortunate in 2013 to have achieved many accomplishments of which we are proud including: signing the contract to manage the Eskenazi Health Sky Farm at the new Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital; expanding our educational programming for youth and adults; more than doubling the number of individuals served by our SNAP (food stamp) matching programs – and so much more. However, if I had to pick one thing, I would say I am most proud of the 2013 summer apprentices. I am proud of the 10 individuals we selected, the experience we gave them, and the ways in which they are paying that experience forward now, as they step up and into action to be the change they seek. Three are now working with us, bringing their unique skills and interests to empower others to Grow well, Eat well, Live well, Be well. Another is leading action on the reduction and management of food waste. Two are serving communities by helping to operate community gardens, food education and food access initiatives outside of Indy. I am proud that all 10 individuals are now committed advocates for the essential role of food in our lives, they understand the profound truth that we are what we eat, and they strive to embody the world they hope to live in through the choices they make about what and how they eat.

What’s on the radar for your organization in 2014?
We have a lot to look forward to in 2014. We’ll begin our first growing season at the Eskenazi Health Sky Farm on the roof of the new Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital. This will include some exciting educational programming in partnership with Eskenazi Health staff and patients. Also in downtown Indy, we’re adding an additional 10,000 square foot farm site at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center. This area will provide Indy’s first urban farm u-pick and supply produce to the Patachou Foundation‘s program to serve nutritious and delicious after school meals to at-risk and food insecure children. We are also in the process of fundraising to construct a farm education structure on this site where we could hold on-farm classes, workshops and trainings for youth, adults and families. In addition, we have had the first Growing Places Indy baby born to one of our staff, with the second due in February. In 2014 we look forward to continuing to grow in many ways!

This post was an installment in our Build Indy Follow-Up Series. Thank you to everyone who participated in any of Formstack’s Build Indy events or initiatives. As we move into 2014, we plan to continue supporting the Indy community through service projects, sponsorships and other local efforts. However, we have decided to discontinue the Build Indy program, effective Jan. 1, 2014. If you follow any of Build Indy’s social media accounts, please follow Formstack on Twitter or Facebook for more information about our various community involvement activities.