- Associated Press - Monday, April 17, 2017

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Urban and rural farms in Indiana are working to provide more opportunities for residents to get fresh, nutritious and local produce.

The Lafayette Journal and Courier (http://on.jconline.com/2pINwOE ) reported that food sharing initiatives, such as urban farms, are growing in places like Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Lafayette.

Johnathan Lawler is a farmer at Brandywine Creek Farms in Greenville. In 2016, Lawler and his wife Amanda switched their commercial farm into a nonprofit focused on food insecurity.

“It’s really sad that you can buy a can of coke or a bag of chips for cheaper than a couple bell peppers or some really good tomatoes,” Lawler said.

One obstacle farmers are facing is scale Lawler said. Indiana’s local food movement doesn’t have the production capacity to reach all those in need.

Indianapolis’s Flanner House partnered with Lawler to open an urban farm in April. They hope to distribute 40,000 pounds to the food desert in northwestern Indianapolis this year.

Local food distribution often falls within two extremes: trendy high-end food markets and donated emergency food banks said Flanner House food justice coordinator Mat Davis. He hopes to create a middle ground “affordable food access market,” which would include a grocery store, cafe and education components.

Lafayette charity Red Giant Union will plant 12 tower gardens this season. Seventy percent of its produce will be sold while 30 percent will be given away for free.

“We want to open more farms,” said executive director Austin Kasso. “Use this farm to sprout another farm, use those two to sprout more farms.”

Though Indiana was ranked among the most productive farming states in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the department reported almost 15 percent of Indiana households were food insecure between 2013 and 2015, meaning they had limited access to nutritionally adequate food.

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Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

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