Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slow Food Garden at White River State Park

Slow food is all the rage these days, from crowded farmer's markets to restaurant menus that change weekly according to seasonal ingredients. While you're just as likely to see me in the McDonalds drive-thru for an Egg McMuffin (Baby Arrow's craving du jour), I'm dabbling a bit in the slow food trend myself this summer. More to come on that.

So I was quite interested in the newly established Slow Food Garden at White River State Park (I've mentioned that I was a part of a recent press trip to more thoroughly explore the park). This is the first project of an organization called Growing Places Indy, whose mission is to "cultivate the 'culture' of food and urban agriculture in the Indianapolis marketplace." Like I said, I'm no saint when it comes to food choices, but I applaud their efforts to get all of us thinking about what we put in our bodies. And its prominent location in a very public and popular Indianapolis park will do just that.

The project's leader, Laura Henderson, explained to us the garden's organization. It's divided into five large planted beds, which symbolize the 5 ways to eat local:
  • farmer's markets
  • gardening
  • restaurants that buy locally-produced food
  • CSA boxes
  • food cooperatives/neighborhood grocers.
A client that represents each of these "ways" has or will purchase the produce grown in that particular bed. For example, the bed representing farmer's markets is providing fruits, veggies and herbs that will be sold at the Wednesday Farmer's Market at nearby City Market. The beds are labeled so if you visit when staff are not there tending to the garden, you'll still know what's what. It's a beautiful spot to walk around in the already gorgeous setting of the White River State Park. Many of the varieties selected to be grown here were chosen because they are an heirloom, rare or endangered breed that organizers want to help preserve. (Who would have thought plants could go instinct?) My only critique of this great green space is that I wish the plants had been labeled so I knew what was growing.

I particularly like it's backdrop against the towering Indianapolis skyline. My picture doesn't really do it justice. Fruits and veggies really do grow just about anywhere. (Except my yard, apparently.) That's why the next time I'm in downtown Indy with the arrow, we'll definitely swing by to pay this garden a visit. Kudos to White River State Park for dedicating some prime real estate to this cause. I'm guessing that many a family who visits this summer will have similar conversations about food.

Next week, I'll be sharing my family's experience with our CSA box this summer, and a recipe or two. Don't know what a CSA box is? I guess you'll have to come back next Wednesday!

If You Visit:
Slow Food Garden
Located within the White River State Park (corner of West and Washington Streets), just between the Indiana State Museum and the Eiteljorg Museum.
Free of charge.
Insider Tip: There's a workshop held each Wednesday evening in the summer from 4-6 p.m. You can volunteer in the garden, or just ask questions and hear from a variety of experts who are often on-hand.

This post is a part of Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick.


  1. This is such a wonderful idea! I've been trying to eat better since finally watching Food, Inc. a few months ago.

  2. Great to see National Parks getting on the slow food bandwagon!

  3. This is a great idea for inspiring local gardeners!

  4. I love the idea! It's so nice to see that there are organizations like that around!