The Inexperienced Area Farmer opens a brand new grocery retailer within the meals wasteland of East Indianapolis

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The Green Field Farmer opens a new grocery store in the food wasteland of East Indianapolis

A neighborhood in the far east of Indianapolis is getting a much-needed business.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – A neighborhood in the far east of Indianapolis is getting a much-needed business.

“It’s a mile to Family Dollar and a few miles to Kroger,” said Frank Stiles, who was standing in the cold along 10th Street in Brookside.

To get there, Stiles has to walk or take the bus if he wants to eat fresh produce and meat.

“I get grocery stamps, so I spend them sparingly, but when I go to the grocery store I can only get light items,” Stiles said.

Stiles has been stuck in a food wasteland for seven years.

“It’s very difficult for me because it limits me to how much I can get,” he said.

“It’s a food wasteland that needs to be addressed now,” said Jonathan Lawler, who owns and operates 113-acre Brandywine Creek Farms in Greenfield.

Lawler hopes to change that for people like Stiles who live in the area.

“I’m a farmer in the country. I’m 27 miles away, but I want to share what I know with the kids, especially the young people who are here in this neighborhood,” Lawler explained.

So he opens a small grocery store in the former Pogue’s Run Grocery on 10th Street.

“The product will look like our shine … our shining products, fresh fruits and vegetables are very important to us,” said Lawler.

They should. Lawler grows them on his farm.

“I am disappointed that our capital city has such a big problem with access to food,” said Lawler.

That’s why he and his family have grown over the past few years to donate more than two million pounds of food in central Indiana.

“I’m so excited to see what we can do here,” said Lawler, explaining that he hopes to make the grocery store even more part of the community by hiring people who live in the neighborhood to work in the store.

“Without community engagement, we’re just another business. We want people to know this is here to serve them,” Lawler said.

Food is only part of it.

There will be a cafe in the store where Lawler hopes food conversations can begin.

“There could be someone who is homeless and you are not homeless and this could be a good place to hear their story and they could hear yours,” Lawler explained.

Part of the story Lawler wants to make is teaching others how to start their own neighborhood grocery stores.

“They can come here and train and learn how to do it and then go to their own zip code or their 10 blocks that need to be served,” he said. “Maybe in 10 years food deserts will be eliminated in Indianapolis.”

He hopes the Brookside Healthy Harvest Market will be part of that narrative.

Frank Stiles looks forward to being part of a success story.

“It would be a good thing for the neighborhood,” he said.

The new shop should be open this Saturday at 10 a.m.