A secluded downtown sky garden has fans looking up and feeling healthier


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Almost lost in the towering concrete, glitzy glass, and unforgiving black top of downtown Indianapolis, there is a secluded garden, an urban farm and a recipe for better health.

To find it you have to look up, way up.

The island of green is a health foodie's dream. There is lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini and enough other veggies to fill a supermarket produce section.

Rachel White kept a handful of volunteers busy cultivating the crops. White has lots of titles.

"It's programmer or something or other," White said, "Sky Farmer is fine. I like that better."

The little farm is seven stories high in the sky, on top of Eskenazi hospital.

Karen Eckrich is one of many volunteer Sky Farmers, "before coming up here I've only heard of it once," she said, "It's better than I thought it would be."

Amy Carter oversees the Eskenazi Health Sky Farm project, "I've been a dietitian here for 18-years," she explained. "I will tell you it is extremely difficult to sell vegetables sometimes to people."
So, the hospital gives most of them way.

One morning there were boxes of parsley, sage, rosemary, and you guessed it thyme along lot of other good stuff waiting to be handed away.

More than 100 people, most of the hospital employees waited in sweltering heat to get a taste of Free Veggie Friday. They squeezed, smelled, and inspected everything.

Does the program pass the sniff test? "It definitely passes the sniff test," said Christina Wurster.

Free samples, free recipes, free cooking advice, and the free food, changed the way Wurster eats.

"It has changed my choices. I make healthier choices and it's easier to make healthier choices." She explained.

Abby Akindele said the program helped her lose 34-pounds.

"I haven't taken anything out of my diet, but I am eating right and eating the good stuff," Akindele said.

A similar program provides free food and cooking lessons to recovering patients.

"Giving people the freshest possible produce allows them to get more nutrition," Carter said, "And also allows them to have something that tastes better."

Since the Sky Farm project premiered, salad bar business is up by a third.

Produce sales at the hospital market more than tripled.

"That's what makes me excited," Carter explained, "Everything we can do to help someone out with a little more vegetables in their day is going to help them live a healthier life."

There are high hopes for a growing garden in the sky.

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