Physician Dispensing

Urban Farm – A Model for Business Growth

photo-2Empty spaces can be so intimidating. Whether it is the white blankness of an empty page or the physical blankness of an empty field, creation on a clean slate is an impressive feat. However, adding in an array of obstructions, pollutants, zoning laws, neighbors, politicians and a host of other barriers makes that clean slate a veritable mine field of impossibility. Yet, there are creative souls walking through those impossibilities to build compelling businesses that are a very powerful example of what can happen when business partners with community.

On a visit to South Circle Farm in Indianapolis yesterday, I was introduced to a fascinating mix of entrepreneurial savvy and change-the-world ideology. South Circle’s founder, Amy Matthews has taken an empty 2 acre field in downtown Indianapolis and converted it into a productive urban farm. Productive in this sense means that it is generating income while positively impacting the community in which it is located. How did she do it?

  • This farm exists through a public-private partnership. An independent business approached a local community development organization about an empty, non-productive field. For entrepreneurs, one of the greatest barriers to launching anything is the expense of space. In this case, the farm secured a very favorable lease that made it possible to generate profit in a startup situation. Not only does this arrangement help the farm financially, it also gives the business credibility. Walking onto the farm is a37d5722 very real, very elemental experience. It is impressive and feels substantial. For potential customers, this is a big deal.
  • The farm developed a business model that caters to a great trend. Farm to table dining. They have positioned themselves as a high quality, local source of organic vegetables at a time when consumers are demanding these products. In addition, the farm sells seasonal memberships to individuals to purchase the balance of crops grown through three planting cycles. Their model is very local, very timely and very well positioned.
  • The farm has effectively leveraged the community impact possibilities of its operations. Offering educational seminars on organic gardening, healthy eating and food preparation keeps the mission aspect of the operation front and center. The farmer is very well-liked in the neighborhood because of outreach efforts and a sincere concern for making a difference. Local officials and neighbors have become ambassadors for her products to prospective customers and there is a true win-win association. Is this farm employing hundreds of people and paying massive property tax bills? No. However, it has turned an eyesore into something healthy and alive. It has created a place to draw people together over one of our most basic needs: food. And it has become a very physical example of the benefits of following a dream and working hard.
  • Oh, and a heckuva lot of hard work.

The bottom line is that there are great win-win opportunities for businesses and their communities. Just like any positive relationship, you have to look for the win for the other party and then find the win for yourself. More specifically:

  1. Look for opportunities to convert old, empty or underutilized assets. They are often imperfect fits for your business but can still present tremendous opportunities.
  2. Quantify the win for the community. Jobs are obvious but what else can your success bring to the area? How will you share that success?
  3. Get the locals on board. Free publicity is one thing. However, the folks that are involved in economic development – public and private professionals – can be fabulous promoters. Make it easy for them by being wildly successful AND a good citizen.
Schedule a free claims analysis now.

Let’s Talk now


Betsy Bigler | Mar 7th, 2024
INDIANAPOLIS, March 7, 2024 – Northwind has announced the addition of Tony Purkey as Senior Vice President, Client Strategies. “Demand from our self-funded employer and union clients is driving rapid growth,” said Phillip Berry, CEO. “Tony Purkey joins Northwind at a time when we need high-integrity leaders with expert knowledge in employer-sponsored health and the … more »

continue reading

Voices Lost in the Noise

Phillip Berry | Jan 31st, 2024
In the health benefits world, the mad scramble toward January renewals/starts has subsided and attention has turned to the annual cycle of review necessary to gauge progress. How did we do? The plan review process generally centers on analytics to gauge progress or regress and to identify “areas of opportunity.” Good. The right data with … more »

continue reading