Little Flower Neighborhood Association (LFNA)
The Little Flower Neighborhood Association (LFNA) has been in existence for many years as an informal community group serving the residents of the neighborhood it calls home and the wider Near Eastside community. The LFNA assumed its current shape last year, when bylaws were adopted, a board was formed and the organization was incorporated as a nonprofit in the state of Indiana.
Because of its track record of community engagement and its desire to strengthen emerging leaders, the LFNA was chosen to participate in the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center’s (INRC) pilot session of the revised Indianapolis Community Building Institute (ICBI). Three Little Flower leaders participated in the program, which began in December 2015 and was completed in May 2016.
As a capstone project for their ICBI experience, the participants from Little Flower created an event series concept – the Little Flower’s Little Gardens’ Little Veggie Swap. The Veggie Swap was conceived by LFNA board members Desiree Brandon, Meredith Davis and Marisol Gouveia and developed over the months of the ICBI training.
The series consists of informal community gatherings occurring on the third Saturdays of June, July, August and September. Each month’s event will have a unique theme designed to engage and entertain the neighborhood. Neighborhood gardeners are encouraged to bring produce to barter with other gardeners, and neighbors who are not gardeners are encouraged to participate in the variety of free activities related to the theme. The goals of the program are to promote awareness of the Little Flower Neighborhood Association; to promote health and well-being within the neighborhood; and to foster a sense of community.
The ICBI program equipped the emerging LFNA leaders with a multitude of new skills, including project management, budgeting, appreciative inquiry, conflict management and asset mapping. The LFNA used these tools to plan the Veggie Swap and bring the idea to fruition, and to complete a well-organized application that provided $1408 in funding from INRC. That funding was supported by $1366 worth of volunteer hours and in-kind donations solicited by LFNA.
The first Veggie Swap – titled “Get the Dirt!” and focused on all things garden-oriented – was held on June 18 in the parking lot of the Little Flower Catholic Church and School, one of the neighborhood’s anchor institutions. Approximately 20 people attended the inaugural event. They swapped vegetables; had a nutritious breakfast; received free vegetable and fruit starts from partner organization Cosmic Gardens; enjoyed the entertainment provided by honky tonk musician Hank Haggard; got in touch with their creative sides via art activities by local art nonprofit Re-Generation Indy; and – best of all – they met new neighbors.
The feedback obtained via surveys was positive, with attendees expressing interest in returning for next month’s event when they’ll “have something to bring from the garden.”