While some Indiana communities downplay their agricultural roots and place zoning restrictions on farms, one Indiana town is making agriculture the centerpiece of its community.
Fishers, in Hamilton County, was once a farming community. In recent years, however, it has become a suburb of Indianapolis and one of the fastest growing retail and commercial areas In the state.
Yet, city leaders have made a 33-acre complex in the heart of the city a park dedicated to agricultural education.
“There are a lot of kids and people in Fishers today who are several generations removed from the farm. Our fear was that the next generation would have no idea about the history and heritage of agriculture or how their food is produced,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness.
Fadness told HAT that community support the AgriPark has been strong.
“I really think we have tapped into something there. The response has been overwhelming. People today are looking for a place to get out and be in a safe environment. This provides them that chance.”
The public has the chance to volunteer to help with the planting and tending of crops and the management of livestock.
The park features a large vegetable production area, livestock area, a tree farm, and a kids play area with an agricultural theme.
Purdue alumna Jackie Leeuw has been hired to develop educational programs for the public and area schools.
“The fall season will be a special time at the AgriPark. In May, 10 acres of field corn were planted, which will be home to a corn maze this fall. In addition, another field will house a gourd and pumpkin patch for picking, and a field of sunflowers will be grown for photo and craft opportunities,” stated Leeuw.
The mayor says all the produce of the farm is donated back to the community, “We are not profit oriented but experience driven, so all the food we produce is donated to food banks and offered free to the public.
Indiana House speaker Brad Huston, a Fishers native who was on hand for the ribbon cutting last week, says he is proud to see the heritage of agriculture highlighted.
“Many of us are proud of Indiana’s agriculture history, and it is great to see it being recognized and honored.”
The park will be open until the end of October this year and then reopen in the spring.
More details at FishersAgriPark.com.