Mat Davis, right, food justice coordinator at the Flanner House, speaks with Jonathan Lawler, owner and operator of Brandywine Creek Farms, about testing the soil near the Flanner House in preparation to develop a farm on 2 1/2 acres in the heart of the largest food desert in the city on Nov. 11, 2016. (Photo: Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar)
Indianapolis – Flanner Farms will sprout next year on the 2½-acre campus of Flanner House, 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. It’s not a community garden, but rather a 1.3-acre working farm. And it won’t just feed people; it will teach them how to grow their own food.
By Maureen C. Gilmer
Nov 19, 2016
Over the summer, Lawler learned about Flanner House and its work to feed surrounding neighborhoods. He and his three sons delivered a truckload of produce to the center, and there he met Brandon Cosby, executive director. It didn’t take long for Cosby to see that Lawler would be an ally in his quest to take the 118-year-old center back to its agrarian roots.
“We are getting back to the historic legacy of Flanner House,” said Cosby, who took over as executive director earlier this year.
As Cosby dug into the center’s history, he discovered it had a farming program and a cannery as far back as the 1930s. Neighbors learned about urban agriculture and took home what food they needed. The remainder was sold at a co-op.
As the landscape changed and large grocery stores began popping up to supply easy access to food, the idea of growing your own dinner lost its appeal. But now many of those same groceries are closing, forcing vulnerable populations — those without access to transportation — to frequent dollar stores and gas stations for pre-packaged convenience foods.