From the farm: Church’s mission grows with new offerings

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Teter Organic Farm has been a busy enterprise during its early growth years.

The mission, launched by Noblesville First United Methodist Church, began in the spring of 2016. Last year was its first full year of operation, and there are plans to expand its offerings to the community and its educational outreach.

Food grown on the 3-acre plot is donated to food pantries, but director of farm operations and church pastor Aaron Hobbs said the program is beneficial to many.

“The whole idea was to make this property into something more connected to our community, where people could come together and use it not just once a week or occasionally, but be at the heart of our mission as a congregation to help fight food insecurity in Hamilton County,” Hobbs said. “This was something we felt God was calling us to do, something to allow us to help fight food insecurity and also be a place where people can come and be together and build relationships and people can slow down.”

Initially, the project began as a half-acre and grew to 3 acres last year. The land was  donated to the church by Ruth Teter in 1981 and used as a year-round retreat center. Crops grown on the property include tomatoes, kohlrabi, watermelon, zucchini, herbs, cucumbers, varietals of lettuce and greens and more.

To help offset costs of donating their crops, Hobbs said Teter Organic Farm offers a Community Supported Agriculture program, where community members can pay $350 to $450 for biweekly vegetable supplies or $550 to $650 for weekly supplies throughout a 20-week season.

“The idea of the Community Supported Agriculture program is people buy these shares at the beginning of the year, and it is offsetting the start-up cost every season,” Hobbs said.

CSA shares are still available for purchase. If buyers don’t want to purchase a share of vegetables for the whole season, Teter Organic Farm also sells produce at the Noblesville Farmers Market during the summer.

The farm is working to become organically certified and expanding educational outreach programs.

Manager Jonah Tabb said the farm offers educational tours. Students are taught about soil, composting and what it takes to grow their own food. Last year, 17 groups toured the farm.

“In today’s high-paced digital world, kids are so often locked into their screens,” Tabb said. “It can be sort of a transformative experience to get together as a group and weed together. Outdoor interactive experiences are increasingly rare for children to be exposed to. It’s not just about producing vegetables, but connecting and bringing people together around a meaningful experience on the farm.”

Tabb, his wife and their three dogs live on the farm.

Tours are offered to groups and schools, and Tabb encourages those interested to contact him. For more, visit teterorganicfarm.com.

 Spring plant sale

Teter Organic Farm will sell plants, flowers, hanging baskets and vegetables to raise money for its efforts to ease food insecurity in Hamilton County and creating outreach programs for local youth. The sale is at 10 a.m. May 12 at the farm, 10980 E. 221st St. For more, visit teterorganicfarm.com.

By the numbers

  • 10,000 – Pounds of food donated in 2016
  • $8,500 – Produce donated in 2017
  • 30 – Types of produce grown 
  • 3 – Farm acres
  • 17 – Groups of kids participating in the farm’s educational outreach in 2017
  • $350 – Beginning cost for the Community Supported Agriculture vegetable share program
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