AS A CHILD, Victoria Beaty didn’t think a lot about where her food came from. In the food desert on Indy’s northeast side where she grew up, getting what the family needed for dinner usually meant stopping at the nearest Double 8 Foods, where fresh produce was scarce. “I was overweight as a child,” she says. “Our diet was heavy, lots of pork chops and fried stuff.” After she studied public relations at IUPUI, Beaty took a job in the very industry that targeted neighborhoods like hers, working in advertising, marketing, and event-planning for McDonald’s. But when she learned just how aggressively the company markets to certain segments of its customer base, Beaty realized it wasn’t the work she wanted to do. “It was messed up,” she laments. “I suddenly wanted to grow my own food.”
Her mother had always kept a small garden, and Beaty felt the urge to raise things such as broccoli and learn more about how food comes out of the ground. After completing Purdue University’s Urban Agriculture Certificate, she became the market manager and eventually executive director of Growing Places Indy, one of the city’s largest urban farms. Along the way, the very broccoli she learned to grow, as well as her new knowledge of the nutrients in garden produce, helped her to lose more than 100 pounds.
Beaty’s next project is Botanical Bar, a houseplant retail shop that she hopes to open this winter on East 16th Street. The shop will also sell coffee, one of Beaty’s other loves. “I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop,” she says. “That’s where I’ve discovered my best ideas.”
Get the recipe for Beaty’s delectable black bean brownies.