Carmel’s urban farmers hope to grow in number

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Amanda and Andrew Fritz operate the Gleaning Garden to help feed the less fortunate in Carmel. (Staff photo by Adam Aasen)

Amanda and Andrew Fritz operate the Gleaning Garden to help feed the less fortunate in Carmel. (Staff photo by Adam Aasen)

By Adam Aasen

According to the biblical definition, the word “Carmel” means “fruitful field.”

Local urban farmer Andrew Fritz said he thinks that translation fits.

“It is an apt definition because this community is growing in so many ways,” he said. “And I hope the garden we started can be another thing that keeps growing in Carmel.”

In the midst of urban hubbub – cyclists zooming by, couples enjoying craft beers or cappuccinos – the 32-year-old activist founded The Gleaning Garden with his wife Amanda, 29, as a way to bring the community together and feed the less fortunate.

This spring will mark the second year for the 24-by-24-foot labor of love, located between the Monon Trail and the Monon Center shopping plaza.

Fritz wanted to start the garden as a way to eat healthier, and Vivian Lawhead, owner of the shopping center, allowed them to fix up a space behind Union Brewing Company. So they recruited five participants to plant their own vegetables such as lettuce, onions, carrots, peppers, squash, beets, cilantro and tomatoes.

After the harvest, the Fritz family had far more food than they needed. So they decided to donate food to local churches and organizations that feed the hungry.

“We only kept about 10 percent of what grew,” Amanda Fritz said. “There was just so much that we thought it would be great to make an impact in the community.”

This year they hope to double the number of participants and find needy families who want to plant their own food.

Andrew Fritz said the highly visible spot should spread awareness. He said cyclists would constantly stop by while he was working and ask him about the space.

“We want this to be more than just a garden,” Andrew Fritz said. “We want it to be a place where people can come together and see what it means to be a good neighbor. In the spirit of cooperation, everyone would help each other with their crops. Then you’ll find that this is a space for everyone. That’s the kind of ‘fruitful field’ that we’d like to see.”

For more information on how to donate or volunteer visit www.thecarmelbeet.org.

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