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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Indianapolis Women: Watering the Roots of Indy’s Harvest

Jun 30, 2016 07:55PM ● By Kelly Calwell

(L to R): Kate Franzman, Audrey Barron, Jessie Kelley, Martha Hoover

Year after year, the Indianapolis community continues to make notable progress in the local food, farming and sustainability movement. Women business owners and entrepreneurs are playing a key role in this arena, ensuring our community continues to move forward by living in harmony with our natural environment.

An integral and foundational piece to the success of this movement is honeybees. Yet they are in danger and need help to rebuild their declining population. Kate Franzman, founder of Bee Public, explains why developing a relationship with these insects is of the utmost importance in cultivating a flourishing organic and local food scene in Indianapolis. Bee Public’s mission is to make the city a more bee-friendly place through responsible beekeeping practices, education and community outreach.

Bee Public’s beehives can be found around the city at places like Eskenazi Health Sky Farm, The Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, and Growing Places Indy. The placement of these hives in public places is intentional to help replace fear with curiosity about bees.

“Honeybees are very gentle unless they feel threatened. Honeybees die when they sting so they actually don’t want to sting you. It’s an act of desperation on their part if they do. This is why it’s important not to swat at a bee.”

To better support the livelihood of our city’s bee population, Franzman recommends planting more food and flowers, especially sunflowers, a bee food favorite; refraining from using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides along with the use of bug killers; and supporting organic farmers by purchasing local produce. The importance of bees in our natural world cannot be overestimated. One of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by bees.

Next in the cycle of food production, Audrey Barron, owner of Ezra’s Enlightened Café, recently started an organic urban farm to grow and harvest produce for her café. The production and preparation of food in this way embodies the connection to nature that is at the heart of sustainable food and farming.

“We started our small farm to grow produce and herbs for Ezra’s Cafe and for a place of learning and healing for our community,” says Barron. “Our vision is to have teaching opportunities about organic gardening and farming, herbal healing, small group retreats and more.”

The farm itself is located on 5.5 acres of wooded land and operated by dedicated volunteers. The farm is home to vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and a small fruit orchard. Barron uses only organic and heirloom seeds on the farm, preserving the integrity of the crops. Raised beds and other structures needed for the farm were intentionally created by the resourceful use of wood and plants already inhabiting the land. Water is also sourced sustainably by collection of stream and rain water.

While Barron is a prominent women’s leader in Indy’s sustainable food and farming movement, there are many more farms owned or co-owned by women. The best places to meet and learn from these women are at the farmers’ markets held weekly throughout the city.

The connection between the bees, locally grown and organic food, and the community comes full circle in Indy’s thriving restaurant scene. New local eateries owned by women are springing up in some of Indy’s liveliest neighborhoods, catering to those that have a taste for fresh, nutritious food. Two of these restaurants are located in the heart of Broad Ripple.

The Garden Table, co-owned by Jessie Kelley, serves seasonally inspired dishes and fresh pressed juice. Their mission is to provide pure, natural and wholesome food to cultivate a balanced and healthy life. They source the large majority of their ingredients locally, including salad greens, root vegetables, humanely raised meat protein and coffee.

The Garden Table believes in giving back, supporting community and local business, and transforming the food culture in Indiana. They hope to be a leading voice in educating the public about the importance of fueling the body with clean and nutritious sources. The restaurant is also available to host workshops and seminars for those that want to share knowledge about anything health and wellness related.

Another leader in the local food scene is restaurateur Martha Hoover, founder of Public Greens: Urban Kitchen with a Mission. This unique restaurant design is an urban farm market-inspired cafeteria that benefits The Patachou Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to feed wholesome meals to food-insecure children in our community and teach them to create healthy habits. This innovative concept has a lasting vision for the future with hopes of making a measured effect on hunger by reaching 1,000 individual students in the community annually.

The restaurant is situated on the Monon Trail in the Broad Ripple neighborhood. Its block-long property includes a micro-farm of produce and edible flowers, a composting pit and one of Bee Public’s beehives for optimal pollination of crops. Food that is grown and harvested on the micro-farm serves both the restaurant and the feeding program of the foundation. The menu features seasonally rotating dishes that are both creative and delectable.

For more information on Bee Public’s talks and workshops, hive consulting and setup, and swarm removal, contact Kate Franzman at [email protected].

For more information on Ezra’s Organic Farm, call 317-255- 3972 or visit

The Garden Table is located at 908 E. Westfield Blvd., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-737-2531 or visit

Public Greens: Urban Kitchen with a Mission is located at 902 E. 64th St., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317- 964-0865 or visit

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