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The Purdue Urban Farm Incubator is a project in the northwest area of Indianapolis that aims to support urban farmers to develop sustainable enterprises by providing access to land and basic infrastructure along with training and mentorship. There are four farm plots at the site and the application period for 2016 has closed.

With questions about this project, please contact Emily Toner, Urban Agriculture Educator for Purdue Extension - Marion County at eegglest@purdue.edu or 317-275-9269 or Mimi Zakem, AmeriCorps VISTA for Butler University's Center for Urban Ecology at mzakem@butler.edu. This project is supported by Purdue Extension - Marion County, Butler University Center for Urban Ecology, Renew Indianapolis, Groundwork Indy and Kheprw Institute. 

ABOUT THE PURDUE URBAN FARM INCUBATOR

Project Summary

Purdue Extension - Marion County is establishing Indianapolis' first farm incubator project! Farm incubators aim to support new farmers by providing access to land and basic infrastructure, along with training and mentorship. There are over 200 farm incubator projects across the country, taking many different forms. This farm incubator project has two objectives: supporting beginning urban farmers as they develop their sustainable farming enterprise, while simultaneously addressing local neighborhood needs for food access. On the ground this will look like approximately four farmers, along with a neighborhood-focused plot maintained by the youth Green Team of the local non-profit organization Groundwork Indy. Educational support will come in the form of a farmer mentor for the program participants, as well as a series of workshops that will also be open to the community and anyone interested in gaining the skills being taught. In addition, being part of a Purdue Extension - Marion County project connects participants to a national Cooperative Extension Service network of expertise and resources. Programmatic support will be provided by Purdue Extension Urban Agriculture Educator Emily Toner, and in this first year of the project, the AmeriCorps VISTA for the Butler University Center for Urban Ecology Mimi Zakem.  

Timing

The application period closed Friday, January 1st, 2016. Applicants will be notified of acceptance Friday, January 15th. Depending on applications received, we may contact you for an interview during the evaluation period. Access to the farm plots will be available in early March. Farmers will attend the 4th Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference on March 3rd - 5th, 2016 as part of an extended program orientation.

Farmers can re-apply for a place on the Farm Incubator year after year for up to five years. Readmittance will be based on progress towards enterprise goals.

Location

The Farm Incubator will be located on 7 city plots in the 1000 block of West 25th Street at the intersection with Rader Street (structures being demolished are at 1011 W 25th St and 1009 W 25th St), across from Elder W Diggs IPS School 42. This project aims to be an asset to its place-based community in the Northwest Area by increasing food access and community resiliency. All participants can look forward to engaging with neighborhood residents as they build their own projects on this land.
 

What we provide:

There are four incubator farmer plots available. They are approximately 4,000 sq. ft. or just under 1/10th of an acre.  This land will be rent free in year one with incremental increases each year after that. If selected, participation will be dependent on a successful background check, considering the proximity to an elementary school. 

INFRASTRUCTURE

The infrastructure we will provide includes:

  • access to water
  • a wash/pack station
  • a shared composting area
  • a classroom area with a shade structure
  • tool storage
  • fencing for the farm incubator plots


MENTOR FARMER

The mentor farmer will support the incubator farmers with:
5-10 hours per week of interaction to help answer production questions and assist with problem solving, being accessible to assist farmers, and conducting formal workshops for farmers to which other participants will be welcome.

PEER NETWORK

It will also be an important benefit to all program participants to be a part of a peer network of beginner farmers, in a place where all can learn together as individual and collective paths are paved toward sustainable urban farming enterprises.

WORKSHOPS

The workshops will be a series of classes related to planning and managing urban farms, such as season planning, composting, financial record keeping, soil and water conservation, season extension, and cover cropping. Topics and timing will be dictated by the wants and needs of the incubator farmers.

INDIANA SMALL FARM CONFERENCE

As part of an extended orientation to the program, we will send the incubator farmers to the 2016 4th Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference. Applicants should reserve the dates of this programming: March 3 - 5, 2016​. The conference will provide training related to production techniques and business management in addition to being a great opportunity to meet other small scale, diversified crop farmers.

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE NETWORK

Being part of a Purdue Extension - Marion County project connects participants to a national Cooperative Extension Service network of expertise and resources. These resources can help farmers trouble shoot, learn about cost-sharing opportunities, and have direct connection to a national bank of expertise and research.

The Purdue Extension - Marion County Urban Agriculture Educator, Emily Toner, will provide programmatic support. Through mid-August, the Butler University Center for Urban Ecology's AmeriCorps VISTA service member is providing full time support to the Farm Incubator.

This multi-faceted support network will work with you throughout your time as an incubator farmer to problem solve in any area of your project. If we do not have the expertise within our group to trouble shoot your issue, we will connect you to an individual or organization that does. Being an incubator farmer means that you are not "on your own" as you develop your operation. Through experienced mentorship, access to land and infrastructure, and programmatic support from Purdue Extension - Marion County, the Incubator Farm presents an uncommon opportunity to learn how to manage your urban farm in a supportive environment.

 

What We Expect: 

COSTS AND SUPPLIES

  • Provide your own
    • Transportation
    • Consumables like seeds, trays, and plants
    • Keep thorough financial and farm records such planted crop records, water use, pest issues,expenses, sales and revenues. The Farm Incubator staff can provide materials to assist you with these records.
  • Pay for
    • Your full water use, charged at the residential rate
    • $0 rent in first year, $50 rent in 2nd year with a $50 increase every year after
    • Liability insurance
    • Basic tools
    • Trash Disposal –  a fee will be charged for any trash in your field. You will need to plan what you will do with your trash (including drip tape and black plastic) before planting in your field. Please talk with Farm Incubator staff to learn about your options for cleaning up all of your trash, so you will not have to be charged.


INSURANCE

It is recommended that any urban farm business or person growing and selling food have liability insurance. You should consider this a necessary cost of being an urban farmer. 

ORGANIC FARMING GUIDELINES

You are expected to follow organic famring principles.This means very limited use of approved organic fertilizers and pesticides (last resort) which have been approved by Farm Incubator leadership and are safe for children, given the proximity of an elementary school across the street. For a description of organic principles, please see this USDA document: http://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Organic%20Practices%20Factsheet.pdf Note: organic certification is not required, only adherance to organic principles.

WORKSHOPS

Attend at least 2/3rds of the training workshops


MENTOR FARMER COMMUNICATION

Check in with the mentor farmer on a weekly basis about your production and enterprise progress. This means you are also responsible for communicating your availability to the mentor farmer and Farm Incubator staff.

SCHEDULED MEETINGS AND EVENTS

Be available for farmer site meetings, public events, and farm tours that are scheduled. 

GROUP PARTICIPATION

  • Actively participate in monthly group meetings of incubator farmers
  • Work together to establish governance principles for shared farm space and determine how common resources like the composting operation, wash/pack station, and shade area will be maintained

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View a flyer, or download it by clicking here.

With questions about this project, please contact Emily Toner, Urban Agriculture Educator for Purdue Extension - Marion County at eegglest@purdue.edu or 317-275-9269 or Mimi Zakem, AmeriCorps VISTA for Butler University's Center for Urban Ecology at mzakem@butler.edu. This project is supported by Purdue Extension - Marion County, Butler University Center for Urban Ecology, Renew Indianapolis, Groundwork Indy and Kheprw Institute.