A Noblesville farmer and a local grassroots group were among a dozen recipients recognized by the Hoosier Environmental Council at the 2022 Greening the Statehouse event in Westfield last month.
The Greening the Statehouse event, which was held Oct. 15 at the IMMI Conference Center, is the largest annual gathering of environmental-minded Hoosiers. It featured panel discussions on progress toward cleaner waterways in Indiana and the outlook for pro-environmental legislation in the 2022 election and the 2023 state legislative session, according to the HEC.
Katy Rogers, a grower and manager of Teter Organic Farm in Noblesville, received the Sustainable Agriculture Champion of the Year award from the HEC. The farm’s mission is to increase food security, provide ecological education and build community, according to a news release.
Rogers began her own farm in 2011 and started her first Community Supported Agriculture program, which led to advocacy work for the hungry, according to a news release.
“For the last 11 years, Katy has focused on increasing access to nutritious food and improving the system for human and environmental health through farming, education and advocacy,” said Jeni Jenkins, senior special projects coordinator at HEC.
A grassroots group, Don’t Leave it to Beaver, was also recognized by HEC as Frontline Organizer of the Year. The group was organized to halt the approval of a sand and gravel extraction site near the banks of the White River.
Don’t Leave it to Beaver was initially formed by neighbors in the Potter’s Woods and Fairfields Farms subdivisions in 2020 in response to an application co-filed by Beaver Materials and Hamilton County Parks to rezone a 50-acre area of farmland designed as multifamily residential/floodplain along the White River, according to a news release. The land is directly above the main aquifer supplying water to all of Noblesville surrounded by multiple schools and hundreds of homes, the release said.
Studies of the site showed moderate risk to the local drinking water supply and risk of air and noise pollution that would likely negatively impact wildlife habitat and disrupt bird flight paths in the area, an important bird migration corridor, according to the HEC. The group also objected to rezoning a residential area to allow industrial operations, the HEC said.
The group, which includes residents from across Hamilton County, eventually won the fight to prevent rezoning of the area, according to HEC, which said that seven out of nine Noblesville Common Council members voted to reject the gravel extraction site.
“(Don’t Leave it to Beaver) was able to halt a mining operation in the floodplain of the White River. Its advocacy efforts really speak to the power that community organizing can have on shaping the environment,” said Susie McGovern, senior water policy associate at HEC.