Life in the Slow Lane: MicroGreens Project Indy

On Saturday, November 12, Slow Food Indy and MicroGreens Project Indy are partnering to host a Play with your Food event for children ages six to twelve. This fun and interactive event will allow kids to explore fresh fruits and vegetables while learning about Indiana’s fall harvest.

life-in-the-slow-laneEarlier this year, we were introduced to Colleen and Drew Kincius who co-founded MicroGreens Project Indy. We sat down them to learn more about their mission and vision for giving Indianapolis children the knowledge and skills to live a healthier life.

Colleen Kincius, a native of Indianapolis, currently lives in SoBro with husband and co-founder of the Microgreens Project Indy pilot program, Drew Kincius. Drew Kincius grew up near Chicago, and moved to Indianapolis in 2014 after spending nearly 10 years in Bloomington playing music and working with Oliver Winery. In addition to working with Colleen on Microgreens Project Indy, he works at The Bureau and Chilly Water Brewing Company in Fletcher Place.

Colleen developed an interest in nutrition during college where she took several alternative lifestyle classes that helped her become “very aware of how you can change your life through food.” After graduating with a health education minor, she completed a Health Coaching certificate program and started her own business. Now Colleen works as a Lifestyle Wellness Coach with Eskenazi Health.

She started volunteering time with Patachou Foundation’s after school meal service and soon found herself teaching nutrition classes to elementary school students with Drew. Colleen first heard about the MicroGreens Project via Michal Pollan’s Twitter account, and immediately reached out to its creator, D.C.-based chef Alli Sosna.

What is the concept behind the MicroGreens Project, and what inspired you to bring it to Indy?
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MicroGreens Project Indy has a mission to teach kids how to cook and eat healthily on a SNAP budget. We offer classes to children in grades 6-8 and give them the skills they need to access and prepare healthy meals, with the hope that they will cook better on their own and impact their families and even community. Through 8 sessions, the kids learn how to shop for, prepare and enjoy a healthy meal based on a total budget of $3.50 per meal per family of four. Each lesson empowers the students by giving them the confidence to safely use their newly learned kitchen skills in their own home.

Currently, we are working with KIPP charter school, and are talking to several other schools with majority free/reduced lunch. We have even had inquiries about creating a class for adults.

What challenges for MicroGreens Project Indianapolis do you foresee for this initiative?Funding and logistics. It takes a lot of time to raise money, especially if you are using a crowdfunding platform, as we have in the past. We are currently looking into finding sponsors to help offset the costs of all the materials–the cost of putting one kid through the program is around $80, which is a very reasonable ask for individual donors. (Each kid gets a set of knives, grillet, cutting board, and measuring cups and spoons, which they get to keep after the class ends.)

We are also trying to figure out ways to be more flexible with the curriculum. For each class, we have to make small changes to the goals based on the needs of the students. We also have to constantly adjust and test things like the amount of time teaching, prepping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up.

How can community members get involved?
We would love to find an individual or corporate sponsor so more kids can participate in future classes. You can click here to learn more about supporting our project.

Why should everyone care about good, clean and fair food for all?
Everyone has a right to health and food education. As you probably know, access to food is not very good or equitable in Indianapolis. I think that since we’re all human, we should all have the same right to happiness AND health.

Food is the most intimate relationship we have on a daily basis with our body. It is what fuels us. There’s the weird disassociation between people’s health and what they eat that is present across the socioeconomic status board. Food is not just a way to get full–it is the most important aspect of what makes us healthy, and it’s our goal to mend that gap for community members living with the added challenge of trying to get healthy on a budget.

We agree freedom of speech is a right for everyone, but for some reason we don’t say access to good, healthy food is the same type of right.

What’s the kitchen tool you can’t do without?
Well, besides a big chef’s knife, a microplane. There’s just so much you can do with it.

Where’s your go-to dinner spot in Indy?
We’re HUGE Locally Grown Gardens fans. Try the Salmon entree or the heirloom tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella with balsamic vinegar. It’s so simple and perfect.

Best ever farmers market find?
Native Bread! It’s a newer bakery started by a friend of ours who makes the most delicious gluten-free bread. You can find it at the Broad Ripple Farmers Market, Good Earth, and FarmersMarket.com.

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