Indiana Food Summit 2017 Morning Keynote Panel

Community Leader Reflections on Social and Racial Equity in Food System Work

In this keynote discussion, attendees hear from two experienced community leaders, Reverend Marty Henderson based in Gary and Vivian Muhammad based in Indianapolis, reflect on food system work through the lense of equity. These are two community leaders who have engaged in urban agriculture as a way to re-shape their urban food system and create healthy spaces in their neighborhood. Reverend Henderson will share about his work with Peace Garden and Farms in Gary and Ms. Muhammad will talk about building a neighborhood garden space, The Elephant Gardens, with her family in Indianapolis. Purdue Extension – Marion County Urban Agriculture Educator Emily Toner will moderate this keynote discussion, asking both speakers to reflect on the particular challenges of achieving equitable outcomes in urban work where racial and economic disparity are prevalent and of a large scale.

Marty L Henderson
Peace Garden and Farms, Inc., an outreach of Peace Baptist Church, Inc
The Reverend Marty L. Henderson was born September 1, 1957, in Chicago, and grew up in Argo, Illinois.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois, and a Master of Divinity in Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion, ITC, Atlanta.  The Antioch Baptist Church of Argo, Illinois, licensed Reverend Henderson to preach in 1978 and he was ordained in 1982.

On December 27, 2006, Reverend Henderson became the second pastor of the Peace Baptist Church of Gary, IN. Pastor Henderson serves as President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist State Convention of Indiana, Inc., Executive Director of Peace Garden and Farms Inc., a member of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Indiana Food Council, the Gary Food Council; and has received certification in Commercial Urban Agriculture through Growing Power-Milwaukee, and Master Gardener Training through Purdue University Extension, and Master Urban Farming Training through the University of Illinois Extension programs

Vivian L. Muhammad

Head of Field Operations, The Elephant Gardens

Vivian Muhammad graduated from Cathedral High School in 1983. She subsequently attended Purdue University where she studied Engineering and Pre-law before leaving to start a family. She now has four children, three sons and a daughter, and four grandsons.

She would later become President of Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the oldest black-owned manufacturing company in the United States. In 2011, the celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Walker Company’s 1911 incorporation. The Walker legacy has now been entrusted to the owners of Sundial products. Along with heading an historical manufacturing company, in the 33 years since graduation, Vivian has also been an insurance consultant and agent investigator, the owner of her own cleaning company, and a wellness consultant. However, it was not until 2006 that she began to finally tap into what she considered her calling.

That’s the year she tore up her family backyard and planted a garden! Vivian is now an urban organic farmer and, along with her family, she operates the Elephant Gardens which is located in the heart of one of Indianapolis’ food deserts. The vision of the Elephant Gardens is to transform the community in which it is located by promoting a culture of health, beauty, and clean living. Indeed, the Elephant Gardens’ mission  is its business: to establish a sustainable source of nutrient-rich, organic produce for its community, and to engage and train the youth in the area to become helpers in this cause. Vivian has come full circle in as much as she has now received training from Purdue Extension’s urban agriculture program for the implementation of sustainable organic gardening practices and the eradication of food insecurity and food deserts.


Moderator: Emily Toner

Urban Agriculture Educator, Purdue Extension – Marion County

Emily Toner is the urban agriculture educator for Purdue Extension – Marion County in Indianapolis. She supports the urban farming community by providing direct education opportunities, community facilitation, and raising awareness of urban agriculture. Emily is originally from Iowa, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University. She also has two graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her master of science in geography was completed while studying World War II Japanese American internment camp gardening. Her master of arts in journalism emphasized a portfolio of science-, environment-, and food system-focused stories.

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