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Growing Places Indy is known for their local urban farms and giving back to the community through its free yoga classes and its price matching systems for EBT (electronic benefits transfer) users. Additionally Growing Places Indy gives back with its free cooking class that meets Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center.

This class not only educates students on the nutritional benefits of organic food and how to cook it, but gives free produce from Growing Places Indy’s garden at the end of every class.

“It’s huge,” said student Maeve Laverty on the importance of cooking with organic food. “You can go into supermarkets and stuff like that, but you’re always concerned about what you’re buying. Definitely having the organic, knowing that it’s grown right behind us is fantastic.”

Janet Mackins enjoyed the class as well and feels that “this is it, this is really what life should be all about, eating healthy,” she said. “Fresh fruits and vegetables that’s life, we need to eat food with life.”

The chef for the class was Staraya McKinstry who is a yoga instructor and studies Ayurveda, a traditional medicine that is native to the Indian subcontinent that uses diet and herbal treatment to relieve illness.

McKinstry said that she loved the program and that she liked “coming up with ways to get people to eat healthy that they’re going to enjoy because it’s not going to do people good if they feel like they’re going to have to choke down their food.”

“They all were very active, they all had great questions. It impresses me every single time that they want to be here, that they want to learn,” Rachel White said in regards to the students. She was also “surprised that I not only had to turn away students because my class has filled up so fast, but teachers. I had a hand full of teachers I had to say I’m sorry I already have enough.”

“There’s a market for this class. It’s something that people want.”

Growing Places Indy was only able to include the program this year because they received the Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Whether they will receive a grant again next year or be able to fund this program next year is still pending. That is why the organization asks that if you are capable, donate to this organization so that they can teach more people to “grow well, eat well, live well, and be well.”

To learn more about Growing Places Indy and to donate to the cooking class, visit Growing Places Indy’s website or contact their executive director Laura Henderson at

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