I arrived at Indy Urban Acres ready to slang raffle tickets on a beautiful Indiana afternoon for my first Farmraiser experience.  The sun was shining, and a cool westerly breeze offered a reminder that summer was fading away.   

As I headed towards the check-in, I spotted one of the farmers smiling and dancing a little jig.  The Parks Alliance crew was buzzing around putting on final touches.  Lanterns and lights strung between locust trees, bright yellow sunflowers, a green house transformed into a giant dining room formed the backdrop.  The positive energy was there from the start. 

How many times have you driven up and down our interstates and highways paying no mind to the insignificant strips of road buffer?  To think this small patch of land, tucked between buildings and asphalt, could be transformed into an oasis.  It’s a marvel, that once inside and surrounded by this breadbasket of produce, the sounds of interstate traffic and bustle fade away. 

Enough about that, we got raffle tickets to sell, and sell we did.  Some would say our sales tactics would make a used car salesman jealous, Don Draper proud, Zig Ziglar flabbergasted……. Ok, ok, guests were there to support the Farm, we just happened to be the ones holding tickets for them to do just that. I digress. 

 I was blown away by the good-natured spirit and excitement of all who attended.  Several proudly stated they have never missed a year and nearly everyone said something to the effect of “Out of all the charity events we go to every year, this is our favorite.”  I soon would come to know why. 

To be in the city and feel like you’re not in the city.  Outdoors, wearing comfy clothes, it’s disarming, but in a good way.  Yamallama was dishing out the grub and let’s just say they know what they’re doing!  At one point I was told to “save some pop-tarts for the others”.  How can I go back to a formal attire “rubber-chicken” dinner after this experience?!   

Dinner time was lively and fun with just the right touch of seriousness, because planting, growing, harvesting, and transporting 55,000 LBS of fresh produce for families in need is serious business.  The IUA farmers and Parks Alliance team made that happen.  We’re not talking 9-5 here, this was above and beyond effort, through a global pandemic.  Truly amazing. 

After we laughed with friends at the table and eagerly listened to David rattling off raffle numbers, the party moved outside.  The bonfire was roaring, flames licking 15 feet into the sky as Big Foot Yancey took the stage.  The folksy, bluegrass tunes floated across the landscape, and I made a note to check them out again soon. 

As the fire and music died down, I looked around and saw the crowd thinning.  A few good friends and I piled into our ride-shares and headed home, rehashing the good times.  Though a touch groggy the next day I felt energized to be a small part of an amazing day.  I’m counting down the days until next year and I’ll be damned if I don’t increase raffle sales by 100%!