Fall Creek Gardens – V-Digging for the Best Resources

Digging For The Best Resources

We’ve compiled a few(!) resources to help you get started. In compiling these resources, we’ve considered the beginner through the advanced urban farmer. If you are aware of resources that we haven’t mentioned, let us know, we’d love to include your suggestions.

Educational Resources

Many educational opportunities exist for those who want to learn more about gardening or even specialize in a specific topic, such as attracting beneficial insects or building soil.

Classroom/hands-on education

Indianapolis area
Beyond Indy


Community Gardening

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy


Ecological farming and gardening

  • Acres USA www.acresusa.com/
  • Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association www.biodynamics.com/
  • Bioneers www.bioneers.org
  • Complete Book of Composting by J. Rodale and staff
    A compost classic!
  • Gaia’s Garden: Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway and John Todd
  • Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service www.mosesorganic.org
  • One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
  • Permaculture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture
  • Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual and Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison
  • Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country by Peter Bane (to be released summer 2012)
  • Permaculture in IndianaAcrobat.


Gardening (general)

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy

Gardening with children

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy


Insects and weeds


Food security/Hunger relief

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy


Food: Sustainable and local

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy


Quality of life

Indianapolis area

Beyond Indy



Gardeners in Indianapolis are fortunate to be in a city with lots of available land. Consider the following kinds of places that tend to have land available, with a priority on those closest to the community of people who will be gardening.


Churches, mosques, and synagogues

Churches, mosques, and synagogues are excellent places to launch a Community Garden. The advantages include a well-established community, opportunities for intergenerational gardening, and a philosophy of creation care or land stewardship. 

Since 2005, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) whose headquarters are in Indianapolis, have promoted Community Gardening as a form of environmental stewardship and food security. Learn about their Return to the Garden initiative at http://www.discipleshomemissions.org/pages/Env-Return2Garden.


Educational institutions

Educational institutions in Indianapolis almost always have extra land available that can be converted into Community Garden or Urban Agricultural use. The benefits include involving students, connecting educational curricula to garden planning, such as math, biology, and even reading, writing, research, and more.

Butler University is home to an Urban Farm (http://www.butler.edu/urban-ecology/urban-farm/). Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has launched the Riley School Gardens program to combat childhood obesity. Students grow, harvest, and prepare seasonal produce.

Schools involved so far include  IPS # 27 (CFI 3); 545 E. 19th St., IPS # 31 James A Garfield; 307 Lincoln St., IPS # 42 Elder Diggs; 1002 W. 25th St., IPS # 43 James Whitcomb Riley; 150 W. 40th St., IPS # 49 William Penn; 1720 W. Wilkins, IPS # 55 Eliza A. Blaker; 1349 E. 54th St., IPS # 93 George H. Fisher; 7151 E. 35th St., IPS # 96 Meredith Nicholson; 3651 N. Kiel Ave., IPS # 106 Robert Lee Frost; 5301 Roxbury Rd; and IPS # 572 Emma Donnan; 1202 E. Troy Ave.

Find out more at http://www.kibi.org/community_vegetable_gardens or visit the school closest to you.

Contact Indianapolis Public Schools



Indianapolis Charter Schools

http://www.indy.gov/EGOV/MAYOR/PROGRAMS/EDUCATION/CHARTER/PARENTS/SCHOOLS/Pages/home.aspx (list includes contact information for each school)


Police and fire stations 

Police and fire stations might seem like unusual places to plant a Community Garden, but consider the benefits of getting to know the people who serve your community.

Contact the Indianapolis Fire Department http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/dps/ifd/Pages/home.aspx.

Contact the Indianapolis Marion County Police Department at:



Municipalities and Community Development Corporations (CDC) 

Municipalities and Community Development Corporations (CDC) in Indianapolis have generally been supportive of Community Gardens because neighbors convert vacant, sometimes blighted lots into vibrant green spaces that brighten neighborhoods and bring people together who might not otherwise know each other.

The City of Indianapolis’ Office of Sustainability makes land available to those who wish to grow food on vacant lots. Working in partnership with the Department of Metropolitan Development and the Indianapolis Land Bank, the City has launched an Urban Garden Program in 2011. The program aims to make available abandoned and underutilized land (under the management of the Land Bank) to community groups and individuals for urban gardening.

If you want to start a garden in your neighborhood, contact urbangardens@indy.gov or visit: http://www.indygov.org/eGov/City/DPW/SustainIndy/Life/Garden/Pages/IndyUrbanGardenProgram.aspx. Prospective gardeners should review the online information, determine the plot they want to garden, complete an application, and commit to a five-year, no-cost term.

Many if not all of the CDCs in Indianapolis are part of some kind of Community Garden or urban agriculture initiative. To find out how to get involved in your neighborhood, visit the Indianapolis Coalition for Neighborhood Development website at http://www.icndindy.org/icnd-members to find the CDC that represents your neighborhood.


Indy Parks

Indy Parks is responsible for several Community Gardens around the city. For example, the Mayor’s Garden Plots, located at 2400 Tibbs Ave., has some 20 acres of plots available for gardeners. Tilling is provided by Indy Parks but gardeners must provide their own plants and water.

For more information, call 327-7418 or visit 


Shopping malls

The words “shopping malls” evokes visions of cars and concrete … unless you’re at Big Car Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community (http://bigcar.org/) located at 38th Street and Lafayette Road! With the construction of a number of raised beds, they are modeling urban gardening in even the harshest of growing environments. Contact a shopping mall near you if you would like to engage in a similar project or volunteer at Big Car.




Not only does living, nutrient rich soil contributes to abundant harvests, so does the seed you plant. Many different kinds of seeds are available. Native Seeds (http://www.nativeseeds.org/) has published the Seed Buyer’s Guide to help you navigate the many kinds of seed you’re likely to encounter. The following are their recommendations.

BEST choices

Your own saved seeds, locally grown seeds that are open-pollinated, non-hybrid, heirloom, organic, certified naturally grown, and wild-crafted.

GOOD alternatives

Regionally grown seeds that are open-pollinated, non-hybrid, heirloom, organic, certified naturally grown, and wild-crafted, and organic hybrid seeds.

AVOID the following

Industrial (F-1) hybrid seeds, treated seeds, GMO Seeds, “Big Box” seed rack seeds, industrially-produced “one size-fits-all” seeds from large corporate seed companies.


Glossary of seed terms


Treasures. Includes trusted, new, open-pollinated varieties as well as those passed down over generations.


Also  labeled (F1), Modern hybrids are produced by cross-pollinating two distinct, inbred parents. Difficult but not impossible for home gardeners to save their own seeds.

Open Pollinated

Home gardeners’ best choice for seed saving. Produced through natural pollination without breeding controls.


A set of standards that eliminate or reduce chemical inputs. Regulated by the USDA National Organic Program. Still the consumer’s best bet for safety and health if they do not know the source of their foods or seeds.

Certified Naturally Grown

A self-regulating, nonprofit agency upholding USDA organic standards.

Seed Libraries

Public places where seeds are deposited by a community for the benefit of the community. Participants check out seeds, grow them and return new seeds the following year. A resilient way to engender local diversity and seed security.


Seeds coated with a chemical fungicide or pesticide. Not allowed in organic gardens. These seeds can usually be identified by their fluorescent colors such as pink or blue.


Collected from wild plants growing in natural environments.

Source: Native Seeds (http://www.nativeseeds.org/)


Sources of seed


Free stuff


Indianapolis Marion County Public Library loans many excellent garden-related titles.


Check Indianapolis-area bicycle shops or appliance stores for large sheets of cardboard. Cardboard is commonly used in creating sheet-mulch beds.


Free compost is available through the City of Indianapolis’ Leaf Collection Program. Self-service pick up is available at the Southside Landfill, 2577 S. Kentucky Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46221. Open 24 hours, daily from 7 a.m. Monday to 7 p.m. Saturday (closed Sunday). 
Call (317) 247-6808 for more information.


A number of free animal manure sources, such as chicken, cow, horse, rabbit or sheep, are available around Indianapolis. Take care when using manure. Un-composted or un-aged animal manure can contain human pathogens, such as Salmonella and fecal coliform organisms. If you are unsure whether or not manure has been aged or composted, then assume it has not and treat it accordingly. 
According to the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “Manures are considered fully composted when the pile or windrow reaches at least 130ºF for three consecutive days. This kills most plant and human diseases and weed seeds.”
U.S.D.A.’s National Organic Programs standard for using un-composted animal manure suggests “applying no less than 90 days prior to harvest if there’s no contact between crops and soil, (e.g., staked tomatoes) or 120 days prior to harvest if the crop is in contact with soil, (e.g., cabbage). Do not apply un-composted manure after crops are established. Fall application and incorporation is recommended for home gardeners.” For additional information on composting manure, see Composting Criteria for Animal Manure.
Do not use manure from pets, such as cats or dogs.
Here are free sources of manure around Indianapolis.
  • Chicken and Rabbit manure
    • Neighbor’s chicken coop
  • Horse manure
    • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
      Lt. Becky Lake or Sgt. Dan Kelly
      55 N. Tibbs Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46222
      (317) 327-6681
      Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. Mon-Fri
      Saturday, around 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
      Wednesday is best day for pick up, call first

    • Yellow Rose Carriages
      Peggy Best
      1327 N. Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46202
      Note: Manure is hauled away daily. If you want to drop off container a container, our carriage drivers will place manure from their manure bags in your container at the end of their shift, meaning your manure will not be mixed with sawdust. It must be picked up within 24 hours. Yellow Rose Carriages cannot keep it there any longer than that.



  • Contact any tree cutting service near your garden and request chips. More often than not, they’ll be happy to provide a truckload (or more) at no cost. Make sure you have space for the pile and be willing to let it sit a while and break down.

    Companies known for decent chips include 

    • Treeo, (317) 507-0973
    • Tyler’s Tree Service, (317) 441-9156


Contact stores that sell roofing shingles or tiles for wood pallets. 
  • Reese Wholesale is a reliable source of pallets
    1155 East 54th Street Indianapolis, IN 46220, (317) 202-8200


Often, very late in the growing season, Indianapolis-area nurseries have plants available at little or no cost to community gardens. The plants are likely to be root-bound and stressed, but can be revived.


Volunteer help




Fall Creek Gardens: Urban Growers Resource Center
Mail: P.O. Box
88321; Indianapolis, Indiana 46208
Gardens: Central Avenue at 30th Street
With much gratitude
to the Efroymson Family Fund,
a CICF Fund!

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