INDIANAPOLIS — Heather Tallman has had a passion for locally-grown food since she began publishing her own blog more than a decade ago.
She brings that same passion as the newest program director of Indiana Grown, the state Department of Agriculture’s program to promote produce and other farm products within the state.
Indiana Grown was created by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture after the demand for locally-made products began growing. Since the creation of Indiana Grown, more than 1,100 members and more than 50 business partners have joined the program.
Tallman, who has worked with Indiana Grown since its launch in 2015, got her start with a blog. Basilmomma was launched in 2007 and featured posts about her family, traveling, food creations she made along the way and the story on why she would make them.
What started off as her own project eventually became a column every Sunday in the Daily Journal in Franklin.
“It was really great,” Tallman said, who no longer has the column but still blogs occasionally. “A lot of hard work. I’m not a chef, I’m just a regular adult.”
With her new role at Indiana Grown, Tallman oversees staff and the overall direction of the initiative. She also serves as liaison and spokesperson for Indiana Grown, working with the agriculture industry and other partners.
One project that Indiana Grown will be launching in late August or early September is Indiana Grown’s Farms to Schools Buyer Guide, which provides information to schools that want to start buying produce and products locally but may not be sure where to start.
Indiana Grown also has a presence at the Indiana State Fair, which runs through Aug. 18 in the agriculture building. This will be the third year of the Indiana Grown Market, a store that will have more than 500 different Indiana grown products and about 100 members attending.
“It’s been exciting to watch the growth of Indiana Grown, since its launch in 2015, expand into a member in every county of the state,” Tallman said. “I’m looking forward to growing our future with the team.”
Indiana Grown has gained more than 1,100 members in just three years, and helps many local businesses promote products at places such as the Near North Farmers Market, located at Herron-Morton Place Park.
Near North Farmers Market has been running since 2018 and has been a member of Indiana Grown since its founding by a group of neighbors in the Herron-Morton area. Vendors sells a variety of items every Saturday in June through September from 9 a.m. to noon.
These items include produce from CUE Farm at Butler, and produce, meat, and eggs from Indy’s Food Co-op. There are also vendors that carry wine from Owen Valley Winery, and one vendor called INdulge Indy has croissants and baked goods. Outside of food, there are also products from Body Ecclectic, bouquets from White Clover Designs, and others.
“We love supporting the creative and hard-working folks closest to us, and Indiana Grown is a great window into that world,” Elle Roberts, market manager for Near North Farmers Market, said.
MarketWagon, also an Indiana Grown member, allows local food producers to thrive in their local and regional markets. It is an online farmers market founded in 2017 where consumers can go online to buy produce and have it delivered to their home for no extra fee or subscription. Seven markets located in different parts of Indiana and Ohio allow better access to consumers.
“We wanted to create a platform that extended the abilities for farmers to get their products into consumers hands,” Nick Carter, co-founder and CEO of MarketWagon, said.
One location to find different types of vendors is at Indianapolis City Market. Vendors like Indiana Grown member Arnold Farms set up stands outside the City-County Building and along the street to feature produce and other goods.
Emma Hawk, along with her husband and brother, currently run the farm that has been in the family since 1820, and love being a part of it.
Indiana Grown members have their information on a map, which allows anyone accessing the website to be able to see where they are located, and what they have to offer to the public.
“It is a great way to meet like-minded folks as well as a label people in Indiana love to see on their products,” Roberts said. “I urge anyone to go out and meet someone on your street you didn’t know before. Maybe share a bottle of wine or tasty treat from the market with them.”
Lacey Watt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.