When you think of urban agriculture many people tend to picture cities like New York or San Francisco. But in Indiana, a state more associated with large farms growing commodity crops like wheat and soybeans, there’s a quiet revolution taking place in Indianapolis.
By Andrew Amelinckx
November 4, 2016
The city’s newest urban agricultural venture, Farm 360, was launched late last year with the twin missions of employing local folks, especially those who been incarcerated and have had a hard time finding good work, and repurposing blighted properties in the city’s Near Eastside neighborhood. The company is also growing vegetables using a hydroponic system that incorporates LED lighting, which uses 60 percent less electricity then traditional lighting systems.
The guiding light behind the venture is Jim Bloom, a former prison chaplain and staffing company owner, who saw first-hand the employment issues people who have served time often have. After developing a personal interest in hydroponic farming and helping launch an indoor farm in Ohio, he joined forces with Englewood CDC, a neighborhood redevelopment corporation, and several local business people to launch Farm 360 in Indianapolis. According to the company’s general manager, Chris Arnold, they currently have 15-full time employees, three of whom have previously served jail time, with plans to hire a total of about 25 employees (with an eye towards other hard to employ folks and those from the neighborhood where the farm is located).