Urban gardeners use big ag techniques to conserve soil

The Flanner House, with help from Brandywine Creek Farms, is preparing to create the state’s largest urban farm in the heart of one of the city’s biggest food deserts. It’s not a community garden, but rather a 1.3-acre working farm. Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar

Gardeners working a plot at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on the near east side are part of a group of urban growers who plant cover crops in the off season, a conservation technique more common to rural agricultural settings. The garden produces thousands of pounds of food for local food pantries.

Planting cover crops is a practice often associated with large-scale farming, whereby producers plant cover crops between their corn and soybean rotations to keep nutrients and soil from running off. But the same benefits seen on farmland can be achieved in an urban setting, said Kevin Allison, urban soil health specialist at the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District.

"They’re using cover crops to suppress weeds and to make the soil more biologically active," said Allison, "and just breaking up that (soil) compaction that is standard in the urban environment."

See original video.

The conservation district has been working since 2015 to help anyone from amateur gardeners to […]

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Urban gardeners use big ag techniques to conserve soil
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Urban gardeners use big ag techniques to conserve soil
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Planting cover crops is often associated with large-scale farming, but the same benefits seen on farmland can be achieved in an urban, gardening setting.
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Indy Star
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