NEW IN TOWN: The Gleaning Garden

In Carmel, a philanthropic twist on community gardening takes root.

While most of us hit the Monon Greenway with our bikes to enjoy Sunday’s sunshine, Andrew and Amanda Fritz got out there with shovels. The young couple, residents of downtown Carmel, went to work building a trailside community garden near City Center. Called The Gleaning Garden, its purpose is to grow produce for people living in poverty — a type of farming the Bible calls “gleaning,” Andrew says. “Gleaning is leaving food behind so those on the margins of society can take what’s there for themselves.”

Andrew, a lithe runner, looks like the picture of health, but he didn’t eat fruit and vegetables until six months ago. On a checkup, he told his doctor that he hadn’t eaten them since he was a kid, and his doctor replied, “You’re not a kid anymore, Andrew.” So he changed his diet—and in doing so, learned how expensive it can be to eat healthfully. He thought, if someone living a middle-class lifestyle in Carmel finds fresh food costly, the poor have no chance—and it’s a chance the Fritzes think everyone deserves.

Gardeners won’t actually leave food behind to be foraged. They’re welcome to use the produce they grow, though the Fritzes are hoping some will agree to donate part of their abundance, and the couple will handle the logistics of delivering it to local charities. The garden is located at the back of Mohawk Place shopping center, right along the Monon. Anyone is welcome to have a plot (donations are accepted), and the Fritzes expect to attract apartment-dwellers in City Center, who probably don’t have backyards of their own. The couple also has posted a request online for gardening equipment or funds to buy some. If nothing else, spare a rain dance for this good-hearted couple.