About five years ago, I decided that I wanted to grow some tomatoes for no other reason than an excuse to get away from the computer and work outside. When I look back on pictures from that first garden, I can’t help but grin. Sporadically sown lettuce, indeterminate tomatoes drooped sadly over inadequate cages (but ten feet long!), cucumbers growing well beyond picking size—if only I’d know about Square Foot Gardening back then.
The following season, I cleared out a 50 x 20 foot plot behind my parents’ house, removing field stone, residential trash and trees. There, I grew more squash, tomatoes and cukes than we could possibly eat.
The next season, I became completely enamored with organic gardening, reading books by Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Masanobu Fukuoka, Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin. I read dozens of how-to books and squeezed my grandpa for every secret he has after a lifetime spent as a gentleman farmer. I explored container gardening, began composting, became a Square Foot Gardening convert and took copious notes. I started greens early in the spring with cold frames and ended the season with snow-covered hoop houses.
The season after that, I continued testing the patience of my girlfriend and landlords by turning nearly our entire back yard into garden space. I started seeds that I had saved from the previous season, installed an irrigation system and killed more slugs than I’d like to admit. The high point of that year was when my neighbor peeked over the fence, saw me hauling two buckets of tomatoes inside and yelled, “Holy shit, Ike!” My neighbor thinks my name is Ike.
I taught myself how to preserve what I was growing—pickles, jams, chutneys, relish, salsas, you name it. I was growing almost entirely heirloom plants and constantly saving seeds. I also started learning how to cook and quickly fell in love with spending an evening in the kitchen. I became more and more involved in local food, both on my own and through CODO’s work, and was awestruck by the sense of accomplishment and self reliance found within tending a small victory garden.
Around this time, I stumbled across a great organization called Fall Creek Gardens, offering classes and resources on nearly everything I’ve just described. Cody and I reached out to the Executive Director, Maggie Goeglein, ended up grabbing coffee and immediately fell completely in love with her enthusiasm and the FCG mission of promoting urban gardening, sustainable (organic) gardening practices and community gardening.
We were so excited about what’s going on out there that Cody (a prolific gardener himself) and I decided to join their board of directors in kind of a two-headed marketing position. We’ve worked with dozens of Indianapolis nonprofits, but have never sat on this side of the table. We’ve only been involved for ten months or so but have already learned a lot about governance, strategic planning and all the minutia that goes on behind the scenes at any nonprofit.
We joined the board with the goal of helping Fall Creek Gardens better tell their story, raise money and get more people gardening. Now, we’re proud to share the first piece of that process, an updated brand identity. This fun mark takes cues from their gorgeous on-site mural, gardening implements, and strikes a nice balance between being just buttoned-up enough to command a big grant, yet grass-rootsy enough to connect with potential community garden members. On deck is developing a full marketing plan ahead of the last frost date and designing loads of cool stuff to help get Fall Creek Gardens in front of as many Indianapolis folks as possible. Stay tuned.
If you’ve managed to read this far (hi mom!), Cody and I would be honored if you could make a small (or not small!) donation to Fall Creek Gardens. We’re a newly established nonprofit and every single penny counts, especially as we head into growing season.
If you’d like to learn more about Fall Creek Gardens, head over to www.fallcreekgardens.org/
To donate, please email Maggie firstname.lastname@example.org