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Hiring Hoosiers: Program training the next generation of urban farmers

Growing Places Indy hopes the program results in more black farmers.
Kelley Jordan Photography
Posted at 7:24 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 19:24:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Growing Places Indy is launching a new year-long program aimed at training the next generation of urban farmers.

“With the research we’ve seen from the USDA showing only 1% of African Americans make up farmers and that cities are becoming more urban, we need more people to be able to grow more food,” Victoria Beaty, executive director of Growing Places Indy, said.

The program will include hands-on training allowing the participants to work with the farm teams at Growing Places Indy, a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting wellness through urban agriculture and access to fresh local food.

The organization has had an apprentice program for ten years, but a grant from the United Way of Central Indiana is allowing them to expand it into this new program called Grow Getters.

“In the summer they will be on the farm outside and in the winter, they will do online classes virtually," Beaty said. "We will also have them do field trips to experience other organizations and other family farms that are actually running a farm and get to experience how they do business."

The program is free. Beaty said there will be stipends for participants, but the amount has not been determined.

You must be 18-years-old or older to apply, a hard worker, and have an interest in becoming a farmer.

“Farmers are getting older and aging out and more young people are not looking to move to rural communities,” Beaty said. “We really need to be able to train people to grow their own food that’s the only way we’re going to be able to build a localized regionalized food system. We won’t be able to depend on big ag like we saw during the pandemic.”

Through the program, participants will also take business development classes and create a business plan, by the time they are done they will be ready to start their own farm.

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