Interested in farming, yoga, local food and building vibrant communities for the present and the future? Want to explore identity and leadership in new ways? Apply for Growing Places Indy’s 2016 Summer Apprenticeship to empower your own potential to “Be Well” – vibrant, healthy and thriving and cultivate your own seed ideas and projects for how to enhance our community’s capacity to “Be Well.”
Growing Places Indy has been offering a summer apprenticeship program since 2011. In 2016, we are beginning to look more specifically at what experience candidates bring to their cohort and Growing Places Indy (although it is still the case that no previous farming, gardening or yoga experience is necessary.) The 2016 program will run for 8 weeks beginning June 2nd and ending August 4th, with the week of July 4th off for holiday break. It is an intensive program, requiring 100% commitment to the weekly schedule from participants. Over 8 weeks apprentices will experience the unfolding of transformation in themselves, witness it in each other, and leave with a deeper understanding of the problems in our present culture related to food, health and wellbeing and how they can contribute to solutions. The apprentice experience includes hands on gardening and farming work, personal and leadership development, teamwork, yoga, community involvement, learning to navigate downtown Indy by bicycle and much, much more. Apprentices have the opportunity to learn from inspiring leaders in Indy who are working in areas related to food and wellbeing, as well as from an impressive team of peers with diverse life experience to share. Each will take on a specific role within the 2016 cohort, and will contribute to a final project or presentation. GPI apprentices experience first-hand what it means to Grow well, Eat well, Live well and Be well, including the great challenges involved.
No previous experience farming, gardening, or practicing yoga is required. GPI apprentices must exhibit a desire to be open to new experiences, news ideas and to exploring one’s relationship to Indianapolis, food and self in new ways. Strongest candidates will be able to articulate a sense of purpose for applying, as well as thoughtful ideas on ways in which they can contribute to the 2016 cohort experience, Growing Places Indy and potential ways they will pay forward the experience. Applicants must be 18 years or older, and have at least one year post-high school life experience. There is NO age limit, and previous participants have ranged from 19 to 65 years of life! Youth of spirit and wisdom of maturity are present in every phase of life, and past cohorts have embraced all forms of diversity present each year.
Applications for the 2016 Growing Places Indy Summer Apprenticeship Program are available for download here. Applications are due March 15, 2016. There is no fee to apply or participate in the program. Participants receive a small stipend, weekly share of vegetables and weekly yoga classes.
The program is based at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, and elements of the program take place weekly in White River State Park, at the Eskenazi Health Sky Farm, and at The Platform at City Market. Apprentices operate a weekly farm stand and donation-based yoga class at the Legacy Center on Thursday evenings beginning June 9th. We have had Urban Times residents participate in the past, and look forward to hosting more. Even if the apprenticeship isn’t for you, be sure to stop by the Farm Stand and U-Pick this summer!
Growing Places Indy (GPI) will forever hold a special place in my heart. I was a student at IUPUI in the Philanthropic Studies program when I completed the summer apprenticeship program. I am passionate about helping others improve their health and encouraging those around me to live full lives with great wellness. I didn’t know how that passion would manifest itself. As a student, I pictured myself working for a non-profit organization. GPI opened my eyes to the many food access and nutrition issues through our discussions on food topics. During the summer apprenticeship program, I was also challenged to consider the traditional, the semi-traditional, and the out of the box career options possible in my future, and I would come back to that often.
After the apprenticeship, I decided to focus my school work on community health and wellness through the end of my program. I wanted to learn more about the issues and how I could make a difference. After completing school, I moved to Florida and started working for a hospital. The work of a hospital is vital and noble yet tends to happen once someone is in a state of bad health instead of through preventive care.
One day while I was working, I realized that I was not being fulfilled nor impacting the community in a positive way through my work. I was sitting down at a desk while I watched my community suffer with obesity and lack of accessibility to healthy food. I decided that I couldn’t remain motionless. I decided to start an urban garden in my community in efforts to increase accessibility to fresh produce in my community to those who may not be as fortunate. I am now in the beginning stages of One3 Urban Gardens in Lakeland, FL.
Ten years ago I would have never imagined this for myself. I did the summer apprenticeship program as a way to have a more practical internship experience, through which I could learn about growing edibles. It turned out to be much more than that. I had no idea that GPI would play such an integral role in my life. From a student and business professional hopeful, to an urban gardener and social activist. Because of GPI, my old plans got put back on the shelf and I opened up a new, more exciting book with plenty of empty pages for my story.
Approaching the first day of my apprenticeship was a bit like my first day of school. Butterflies swooped and swirled in large circles within the confines of my stomach as if I were a third grader anxiously anticipating life with a new teacher, new learning, new friends, and a world of unknown changes. For this sixty-five year old, school days were finished years ago. Nonetheless, the expectation of confronting the unknown and using a bicycle as my primary means of transportation provoked feelings I hadn’t experienced in decades.
Shockingly, as the apprenticeship progressed, I realized that the butterflies were also related to a profound sense of grief. I grieved the loss of the person I once was, of the person I left behind in pursuit of a 15 year journey into the world of teaching. Make no mistake, I was blessed to discover my passion along this journey. It was easy to immerse myself in the process of creating educational plans designed to meet the unique needs of each student. I discovered along the way that while I had considered myself a “bad student” when I was younger, the truth is that lifelong learning is the breath of my soul. In light of all that joy teaching brought me, I also found myself in a state of despair upon retirement. Who am I now? What skills and talents can I offer the world now that I’ve left the classroom? Where am I going and why? Within the walls of my soul I faced a blackened sky. Little did I know, the apprenticeship would bring me the most profound self discovery.
Although I had never practiced yoga a day in my life before the apprenticeship began, it was the daily practice of yoga that brought me back into the light of day. As I began to master the downward dog, triangle and chair pose, I sometimes noticed some poses caused small undulating lighting strikes within the muscles of my forearm. As I focused on my breath, I also breathed life into the pose itself and felt my pain relieved. Yoga proved to be more than just good exercise. By summer’s end, I was more flexible and better prepared to sustain more intense poses for longer periods of time. This newfound ability to move beyond my threshold of previously perceived impossibilities was just the beginning.
The highly mundane and yet repetitive act of coming to my mat inspired a transcendence to the present. As I honed the ability to bring my total focus into the present, I noticed that I was more calm, open to others, and able to bring myself into the world peacefully. I was able to be in the presence of both positive and negative events without judging, hiding, avoiding, or wishing myself to be someone I was not. My passionate, radiant, spicy self could exist alongside my vulnerable, fearful self, showing me a new understanding of balance. I realized that over the years I had slowly allowed passion to replace balance in my life. The lack of balance became fertile ground for resentment and stress to grow. I was not aware of the extent that such resentment had grown until the apprenticeship gave me an invitation and safe space to reflect upon my life: body, soul, and spirit. Once I began to acknowledge, accept, and celebrate all that I am, I found I could also open to making daily decisions that reflect my intention and to lead a balanced life. It is amazing that the butterflies I noticed had nothing to do with the root causes I initially ascribed to them.
Along with the new experiences, I was brought back to familiar feelings of joy while working in the soil, breathing fresh air and creating food from seed to table.This gave all of us in the program a sense of connection that we’ll remember forever. Growing Places Indy guided me to exactly what I needed and to once again BE the person I was always destined to be. Isn’t this what each of us longs for – be it farmer, teacher, or shaman? The ability to Be all that we are meant to be.
I loved the Growing Places Indy Apprenticeship. What a beautiful time of self-discovery, deep opening, and altogether life-affirming laughter, conversations, food and sunshine all wrapped into a few weeks. Going into the experience, I could expect a lot of time in the great outdoors, fresh food, and good people. What I walked away with was simply profound!
Our weekly produce share was my first real foray into good food. Do you know what I mean? Good, quality food. We put it in the ground, take care of it (and sometimes sing to it), and come harvest time, we have a bounty of beautiful veggies with some serious high vibrations. Real tomatoes are such a beautiful red that you can’t resist eating it straight off the vine, and the taste exceeds your expectations every time! Enjoying a meal of such produce is ten times more fulfilling when you worked the soil, started the seeds, and nurtured the plants up until the moment it’s on your fork. It’s the essence of mindful eating, and cherishing each bite comes naturally. Even today, I still get my veggies from a local community shared agriculture program, and filling out my order is one of the highlights of my week. Each time I relish in the feeling that I am spoiling myself, only to remember that this is a gift that will give back to me tenfold. I need mindful farmers in order to get proper nourishment in my diet, and it feels good to know I am supporting people who care about the earth and are doing something positive in their part of the world.
Food awareness isn’t the only focus on mindfulness during the apprenticeship program. Laura and Tyler carefully compose the week so that each moment is full of learning and awareness, and every day is a journey. We started and ended each day with a group check in, followed by farm cultivation, lessons on agriculture and yoga of various styles. Woven in were moments of quiet self-reflection and spontaneous bursts of silliness, all while bicycling around the city to meet inspiring individuals ready to share their incredible stories.
Fast forward a couple of years later, and for me, each day continues to be a practice in mindfulness. By taking moments of stillness to check in with myself, I am able to show up in the world in an authentic, meaningful way. Regardless of whether my life is filled with travel or routine, I use it to my advantage that an attitude of exploration serves me well. The more open I am, the more interesting experiences and people seem to come into my life! The result is that the past couple of years have been full of incredible adventures, most of which were the result of letting go and being in the moment, skills the apprenticeship helped me to develop.
When I think about myself before and after the apprenticeship, it is clear that the experience was largely an inside job. I don’t look too different and I didn’t change careers – it’s my inner landscape that has transformed! The experience planted seeds of mindfulness and connection which I now reap the benefits of daily. Focusing on mindfulness helps me to live fully, tapping into the richness each day has to offer. The result is a deeper sense of being, which shows up in a plethora of ways. I experience more loving and laughing in relationships, gratefully see challenges as opportunities, and constantly learn and discover. Today I have the courage to explore bigger adventures abroad, the creativity to live unexpectedly, and a passion that keeps me driven towards sustainable living. Every day is an adventure!