Life in the Slow Lane: Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot

It’s almost the end of October, which means you only have two more weeks to visit outdoor farmers markets!

Slow Food Indy recently sat down with Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot to learn more about Indy Parks’ role in community gardens across Indianapolis.

Linda Broadfoot is a Wabash, Indiana native. She attended Butler University and has stayed in Indianapolis ever since. As a young adult she was very involved in environmental causes and began working with Indianapolis community organizations while she was a Butler student.

During the summer of 1996, she interned for Indy Parks and worked as a volunteer coordinator. Linda spent most of her early career working in several roles at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., where she started pocket parks and later became the Vice President for Public Relations and Development. Before coming to Indy Parks, she worked as the Executive Director of the IPS Education Foundation and as the Director of Business Development at Well Done Marketing.

Last year, she received a “surprise call from the mayor” and soon began her work as at the Director of Indy Parks. She says her current position is wonderful, and that she enjoys working with so many “good natured people who are in it for the right reasons.”

What is Indy Urban Acres and how is Indy Parks involved?
Indy Urban Acres was founded in 2011, and has become an eight-acre organic urban farm that supplies low-income Hoosiers with healthy fruits and vegetables. It was created on undeveloped Indy Parks’ property along 21st Street between Shadeland Avenue and Franklin Road.

The farm is managed by a full-time farmer who is employed by the Parks Foundation, and the food raised goes to a food bank, which gives the produce to food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Indy Urban Acres also plays host to a community garden, flower farm and a flock of chickens.

How is Indy Parks involved in other community gardens?
The city operates the 70-plot Eagle Creek Park Gardens and the 100-plot Mayor’s Garden at Tibbs Ave. Several Indy Parks properties also play host to community-led gardens that are operated by volunteers from community organizations, including Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

“It takes a village. We want people to feel connected to the parks in their neighborhoods and these projects help create some of that connection and gets people in the spaces and using them, often improving them in some way.”

Does Indy Parks have goals to expand any of the programs?
Of course! As long as community is interested. Community gardens fit into the Indy Parks mission of connecting communities by “providing places and experiences that inspire healthy living, social engagement and a love of nature.”

How can community members get involved?
Talk to park managers first to figure out how space is currently used and if there are future plans. I think smaller neighborhood parks would be a good target because they are often the ones that need a little love. It would also be terrific if more communities used the gardens to help alleviate food deserts.

Why should everyone care about good, clean and fair food for all?
There are so many reasons. I care about my city, and I care very much about health and wellness of Indianapolis citizens. I care very much about the environment, which is my personal, number-one motivator. From a social justice perspective, economically and transportation-wise, everyone should be able to eat something grown in Indiana. It should not be a luxury and not a status symbol.

Where’s your go-to dinner spot in Indy?
Since my office is across from City Market and I’m vegetarian, I often eat food from Three Carrots. Duos is great for lunch meetings. My husband and I love Black Market, but we also frequent The Legend in Irvington.

Best ever farmers market find?
Walking Waffles at Broad Ripple Farmers Market.

If we opened your fridge right now, what’s the first thing we would we see?
Traders Point Creamery yogurt, Tulip Tree fromage frais, some organic produce, Revival almond butter, corn chowder from Circle City Soups.

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