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USDA Visits Indianapolis Urban Farm

one official says there’s a growing interest at the federal level to improve food access issues with urban farming.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture toured an urban farm in Indianapolis this month.

South Circle Farm, located a couple miles south of downtown Indianapolis, sells produce to a handful of markets and grocery stores in the city.

In mid-November, owner Amy Matthews is took a small group, including two visitors from Washington D.C., on a tour of the one-and-a-half acre farm.

“This scale is just unusual," Matthew says. "I feel like we’ve mined a lot of ideas, but there’s nothing like ... I can’t go to a farm close by.”

U.S. Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Ann Bartuska says federal officials are taking an interest in urban farms, as evidenced by a speech given at the USDA earlier this year.

“And that was a very exciting statement and I think validated the direction that we wanted to build our capability in urban ag, even as we support rural agriculture," she says.

Matthews says despite their small size, she isn’t sure they’ll be able to sell their whole yield. She attributes that to a variety of challenges: a lack of demand for fresh produce, finding and keeping good land downtown, and not being able to produce enough, even with partners, to make deals with mainstream groceries like Wal-Mart.

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