You might recall, just last month, as a part of Hunger Action Month we shared a special message about a lead challenge gift from Corteva Agriscience to help ensure all Hoosiers have access to the most nutritious food possible. This is just one of the many ways they are helping to lead the fight against hunger in our community.
Another way Corteva is making a difference is through their Harvest for Hunger garden, which was started from two employee groups. The Corteva Grows Food Security Group whose passion for serving those in need spreads across the globe and here locally. The group has over 500 members right here in Indianapolis serving our community in many different ways related to food security. The Corteva Grows Greenspace Group also has 500 members in Indianapolis, focusing on beautification, education and sustainability out in our community. They have a passion for anything growing.
It was the dream of these two groups to create a space to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to donate to local food pantries. Today, produce from the garden is shared with 6 local pantries and several other organizations that have an impact in our communities throughout Marion and Boone counties. This includes a partnership with Gleaners agency, Crooked Creek Pantry.
In its second year, the garden doubled in size to the size it is today. The garden sits on 2 acres that Corteva continues to use for production. Since 2014, the garden has produced over 41,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables with the support of over 4,400 volunteer hours. That’s more than 450,000 servings to Hoosiers in need thanks to the help of employee volunteers!
The garden is 100% employee volunteer driven, which certainly sets it apart from traditional farm/garden models. But it’s the diversity of Corteva Careers that helps this project succeed. Where else in a community garden setting are you going to find a Ph.D. Pathologist, Entomologist, and Weed Scientist helping scout for pests? Their expertise allows Corteva to address these issues before they lose any crops. Of course, there are other tasks to cover as well: planting, weeding, installing irrigation, harvesting and delivering produce March - November each year.
As tasks vary, so do levels of skill. Some employees first raised their hands and said, “I want to help, but I don’t know how to garden.” Employee volunteers come in all levels of skill and are taught how to grow food. Partnered with mentors, they are not only growing fresh fruits and vegetables, but another generation of growers.
We asked Broch Martindale, Crop Focal Point/Greenhouse Technologist for Corteva, if he had any stories to share on what this produce means to our hungry neighbors. Here is what he said:
“This one makes me tear up every time I tell the story. We started to have tours of the garden in the summer. We partner with Boys & Girls Clubs, Stem Connection, and some other summer youth camps. Kids come and tour the garden and then participate in an activity like harvest or plant a new crop. One day while we were finishing up, a little boy came up and asked if I would take him to see my plot. At first fear ran through my mind, not remembering if I had weeded my plot and if he was going to notice. I said, ‘Sure,’ and headed across the garden to my plot. It is what he said next that changed my life forever. This little guy said thank you and then proceeded to tell me that his grandmother goes to Crooked Creek Pantry and has had some of our vegetables. He wanted me to know how he was glad we all worked so hard to help people we don’t even know. I shook this little guy’s hand and thanked him for sharing his story.”
“The impact is simple,” said Broch. “I’ve been told by some kids at Crooked Creek, this is the first time they’ve experienced fresh vegetables.”