Gardening, volunteering and teaching opportunities are plentiful in Y community gardens

Summer is here which means the Y’s different gardening programs to starting to bloom. While local community gardens and other growing efforts are beginning city-wide, you won’t need to look further than the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis to find an array of programs focused on fresh, local produce to fit your needs. From the classic community garden to gardens for good and teaching gardens, the YMCA encompasses all community garden types unlike any other local organization.


Classic community gardens offer plots for rental during the summer which allow individuals to grow fruits and vegetables while socializing with neighbors and fellow community members at the same time. The Witham Family YMCA Community Garden, The Community Gardens at Benjamin Harrison YMCA and Root 36 Community Garden at Hendrick’s Regional Health YMCA are home to these classic community gardens.


With prices ranging from $20-50; $20-40 Y members, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis offers affordable options for community members to grow their own fresh, local produce all summer long. Additionally, Benjamin Harrison YMCA offers wheelchair accessible plots to ensure all are able and welcome to garden this summer with the Y.


For some, eating healthy may feel like it breaks the bank, but the Avondale Meadows YMCA and the Y’s Intercollegiate Programs believe healthy eating should be accessible for all. They have shown their commitment to healthy eating for all with their gardening programs which donate harvests to the communities where they grow.


The Avondale Meadows YMCA has been growing in its Gardentopia for two years with help from their Early Learning Center, Play and Learn Program and senior members. For the past five years, the Intercollegiate Y Program has been making a difference in the Laurelwood Neighborhood community. Year after year, University of Indianapolis student groups partner with local youth to plant four garden beds at the Laurelwood Neighborhood Garden. The Y maintains this garden year-round so that local, healthy produce is available for residents to pick up.


Gardening can teach an individual a wide variety of lessons such as the processes of planting, caring for fruits and vegetables and harvesting. Aside from the growing process, gardening can also be beneficial for teaching individuals through its products with cooking and nutrition lessons. The Arthur R. Baxter YMCA and Flat Rock River YMCA Camp both offer gardening options which focus on educating youth as well as healthy living.


The Baxter Y’s Teen Giving Garden has been active for the past six years. With teens tending to it summer after summer as a part of the teen summer camp programs offered at Baxter, they are able to leave with a better understanding of how to garden, eat healthily and give back all at the same time. Harvests are used by campers to supplement their lunches with better nutrition options, but with harvest time coming near the end of the summer much of the produce is donated to local organizations.


Different from many of the other Y gardening efforts, Flat Rock River YMCA Camp has been growing tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, jalapeños, basil, cilantro, rosemary and sage at its site for four years with Kim Redmon, director of food and services, as a guide. Food from their garden and local farms when needed allow for healthy, local eating to happen at camp all summer long. Along with use at meals, their vast amount of produce also enables Flat Rock River YMCA Camp to teach a cooking clinic for campers using fruits and vegetables from their own garden.

It is easy to see that gardening programs are as plentiful as their harvests at the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis this summer. By encompassing all community garden types association-wide, the Y is continuing to keep healthy living, youth development and social responsibility in focus.


YMCAName of GardenType of GardenHow to Get Involved
Witham Family YMCACommunity GardenCommunity GardenAnyone interested in renting a garden bed can contact Nikki Richards or call (765) 483-9622
Benjamin Harrison YMCAThe Community GardensCommunity GardenVisit the Benjamin Harrison YMCA Front Desk or call
(317) 547-9622
Hendrick’s Regional Health YMCARoot 36 Community GardenCommunity GardenVisit the Hendrick's Regional Health YMCA Front Desk or call
(317) 273-9622
Avondale Meadows YMCAGardentopiaVolunteer GardenTo take home produce, contact Marci Reyes or call
(317) 549-9622
Arthur R. Baxter YMCATeen Giving GardenTeaching GardenSign up for the different teen programs offered this summer!
Flat Rock River YMCA CampFlat Rock River Camp GardenGarden for Onsite UseSign up to attend camp this summer!
Intercollegiate YMCALaurelwood Neighborhood GardenVolunteer/Teaching GardenTo volunteer, contact Ashleigh Coster