Community garden initiative forms to help alleviate hunger

BARGERSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Johnson County’s wide open farm fields and abundance of local food producers are a testament to its rich agricultural heritage.

Marcia Duke lives that tradition every day. Her family has been farming in the Bargersville area for nine generations. She understands the value of raising your own food.

So her hope is to bring together people with a similar mindset and background to help address one of the county’s most pressing issues — food insecurity.

As difficulty accessing food becomes more prevalent throughout Johnson County, and as more and more people take an interest in local food, a group of like-minded residents are banding together to address a growing problem. The Southside Community Garden Initiative has formed to bring together individuals, farms, organizations and business to help alleviate hunger in the county.

Their vision is to create a large-scale community garden to educate, assist and provide resources to area residents who live in food insecure areas, and then those residents can use the garden’s example to create plots in their own neighborhoods.

“We need to find where these food deserts are, and reach those people who live there,” said Duke, community outreach for the initiative. “Then we can say, we want to come along side of you and help you to produce your own food by creating a garden.”

The organization is holding an informative meeting from 8 to 10 a.m. Sept. 18 as it starts putting ideas into action. The meeting and breakfast is open to the public, though you must RSVP.

The idea for the Southside Community Garden Initiative comes from the Aberdeen Foundation, a community foundation created by Duke Homes to support local projects and initiatives. One of Duke Homes’ key values is, “Loving God and loving others,” and the foundation allows them to better approach that mission.

When the Aberdeen Foundation was formed, the Dukes searched for areas where they could make the most impact.

“We were trying to find out what the needs were in the community, instead of just going out and creating something,” Duke said. “The purpose of the foundation is to help resource food pantries and similar organizations in the community where there is great need.”

Duke, who is branding curator for Duke Homes and coordinator for the Aberdeen Foundation, has a family history rooted in local agriculture. They have farmed in the Center Grove area since the 1800s, and the family still cultivate more than 2,000 acres of land that’s both rented and owned by the family.

Duke Homes’ Aberdeen development, located near Bargersville, is a living community dedicated to wellness, including the creation of agrihood areas. The designated spots inside the neighborhood will allow people hands-on opportunities through a working farm or neighborhood gardens.

Working in food sourcing seemed to be a good fit for the Aberdeen Foundation, Duke said.

“In the spirit of Aberdeen, and being a farm family, we were drawn toward the idea of farming and community gardening,” she said.

Duke joined the

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