Community Grown Food Solutions
Join us for a panel of local and national speakers and engage in critical conversation about local food solutions that empower community. Come hear from urban farmers, community food cooperatives, and gardens that educate and empower youth.
How can we lead the way in local food production, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and self reliance?
Meet the Panel
Aster Bekele, Felege Hiywot Center
Aster Bekele is the director of the Felege Hiywot Center. The Felege Hiywot Center is a gardening program in Indianapolis whose focus is on urban youth, second generation Ethiopian youth, and orphans in Ethiopia. Aster has been in the United States for 31 years and has enjoyed the freedom and the opportunities as a citizen since 1981. Her desire to give back to her Hoosier community as well as to the homeland of her birthplace, Ethiopia. Her motivation of starting a mission began in 1975 following her move from Franklin College to IUPUI when she began living at 25th and Martindale. At that time, she realized there were many kids who could use her help so she started tutoring them after school. While working with these children, she realized an impression was being made on them as they learned about the living conditions of children in her homeland, Ethiopia. They started to understand how fortunate they were compared to Ethiopian children, even though compared to Indiana standards they may have considered themselves underprivileged.It was while working with these neighborhood children that the idea of a mission connecting the poor orphans of Ethiopia to the needy children here in Indianapolis started.
Tysha Ahmad, CCFI and Mother Love’s Garden
Tysha Ahmad is one of the founding members and volunteers for the Community Controlled Food Initiative at Kheprw Institute. She is also an urban farmer and owner of Mother Love’s Garden and is a member of the Purdue Extension Urban Farm Incubator. She is also a jewelry artist and her work can be found at http://www.tyshanajmah.com/
Mimi Zakem, Kheprw Institute/ CCFI
In 2015 the only urban grocery store chain in Indy closed all of its four stores. In response we held a youth-led forum on food access. Inspired by the forums, a group of neighbors supported by Kheprw Institute Equity Fellow Mimi Zakem and staff continued to meet to share food and talk about what we could do. In June 2016 the Community Controlled Food Initiative launched as a food co-op where people pool their resources to buy wholesale from local farmers. This was created with zero capital and provides fresh produce to 42 families. Mimi is starting her second year as a fellow and will continue to support and scale the Community Controlled Food Initiative.
Amy Mathews, South Circle Farms
South Circle Farm is an urban farm in Downtown Indy.South Circle Farm’s founder and farmer is Amy Matthews. A native of the southside of Indy, Amy has traveled far and wide to learn the craft of farming–from the mountains of Montana, to the urban wilds of Chicago, from the tundra of Alaska to the rust belt of Cleveland. Toggling back and forth between urban and rural, social service and for-profit, Amy has seen many angles on growing food. She is happy to be back in Indy and encouraged to see our city joining in the healthy revolution.
Trisha Chakrabarti, Mandela MarketPlace
Trisha Chakrabarti is the Program and Policy Manager at Mandela MarketPlace, which leads community-based programming and research in food access, healthy retailing, and support for small food-based businesses. She has worked in community food programming for the last decade, and has led participatory research and advocacy initiatives with youth in Boston. She grew up in the South Asian diaspora, and sees a community-owned food system as a key indicator of political and economic self-sovereignty.