When Kristin Hess and I assembled the stories that make up Food For Thought: An Indiana Harvest, we could see this place was on the cusp of a great transformation. As more and more people sought out locally produced foods, it became apparent that we were witnessing the beginning of a new way of thinking — not just about what we eat, but about our state.
For generations, Indiana’s agricultural identity has been associated with the massive “fencepost to fencepost” farming practices that have led many to associate it with seemingly endless fields of corn and soybeans.
Now farmers, in search of more sustainable business models, have begun to diversify their crops. And a new generation has come on the scene, challenging the notion that, in order to be profitable, farms must be enormous.
These developments, combined with increasing consumer demands for fresh and local, as well as the need to conserve and protect our natural resources, give Indiana a chance to reinvent itself as a center for high quality food production. This much was clear when Kristin and I worked on Food For Thought.
Those energies have continued to gather. What we did not see coming was the rapidly burgeoning interest in indoor farming methods. These practices have lowered barriers to entry into farming for entrepreneurs in both rural and urban settings. They hold great promise in particular for the redevelopment of urban properties into farming facilities capable of delivering a wide variety of local produce throughout the year, while significantly reducing the energy footprint associated with conventional farming.
The implications of this new approach could have profound implications for how we think about our food and where it comes from. Soon, for example, Indianapolis residents will be able to buy greens 12 months a year that are produced not miles, but blocks away from where they live.
Indiana’s agricultural sense of place may never be the same.
David Hoppe is a writer, editor and cultural strategist, living in Indianapolis. He is a contributing editor and regular columnist for NUVO, an alternative weekly. This post was written as part of a series celebrating the Next Indiana Bookshelf, a program of Indiana Humanities and the Indiana Center for the Book. Hoppe’s book, “Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest“ is featured on the shelf. Views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of Indiana Humanities or Indiana Center for the Book. Check the Indiana Humanities blog throughout 2016 for additional posts by authors detailing their vision for the Next Indiana.