INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) invites guests to learn about a forerunner of the farm-to-table movement with its newest exhibit, The German Growers of Indianapolis. The exhibit explores the contributions of German immigrants, and their tradition of locally grown fruits and vegetables, from the late 19th century to the present.
The German families who settled on the south side of Indianapolis developed a network of greenhouses that, by the 1940s, rivaled most other cities in the nation in “acres under glass.” These farmers, brought together by benefit societies and business associations, helped feed the city for generations.
The German immigrants grew a significant portion of the produce Indianapolis needed and distributed it through Indianapolis City Market and later through wholesale markets that they helped establish. The farmers also grew and distributed flowers, trees, shrubs and other plants.
“What I can say is that the gardening and growing genes are very, very strong in our family,” said Anne Maschmeyer, beautification director at Downtown Indy, Inc., and member of a German grower family. “It’s an amazing feeling—like having chlorophyll running through my genes all the way back to my great-grandfather from Germany.”
Those who tour The German Growers of Indianapolis will hear stories from Maschmeyer and three other families who took part in new oral history interviews. In addition, the exhibit will include IHS collection images showing what it looked like to work in greenhouses, distribute produce and be part of greenhouse grower organizations.
The German Growers of Indianapolis opens January 12 and runs through April 20 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of IHS and the Indiana Experience, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for kids (ages 5-17). IHS members and children younger than 5 receive free admission.
Those who wish to view additional collection items are encouraged to visit the William H. Smith Memorial Library, which is free to the public during the History Center’s regular operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information about The German Growers and other IHS exhibits and programs, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.
About German Immigration to Indianapolis
German immigration transformed the Midwest socially, demographically and politically in the 19th century, and Indianapolis was no exception. The German families who formed the social and economic community of farmers on Indy’s south side came from the German province of Westphalia, as well as the Rhineland region, and the cities of Hanover and Wittenburg. By the early 20th century, this community was more than 75 families strong. Though they were competitors in the same industry, the families worked together and supported each other both in their businesses and social lives.
About the Indiana Historical Society
Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller™, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor experiences called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups; publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; produces and hosts art exhibitions, museum theater and outside performance groups; and provides youth, adult and family programs. IHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.