Locally Grown Gardens Closes In On 10 Years of Slow-Roasted, Fresh-Baked Success
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Michael Thierwechter
Locally Grown Gardens (LGG) on East 54th Street is part farm market, part restaurant, part grocery and part specialty store. It’s been a popular, if somewhat under-the-radar, local destination for nearly 10 years, and Mark Troiano, Indy native and LGG employee since 2014, says the establishment’s eclectic, hard-to-define concept sprang from quite humble beginnings.
Owner and chef Ron Harris opened LGG in 2008 in a space then occupied by a vacant gas station, with the sole intent of selling produce from local farmers. Harris, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, soon realized that to operate a thriving, year-round business he would have to diversify and began offering a seasonal lunch and dinner menu, a store replete with produce and canned goods, as well as fresh baked pies that have become the establishment’s bread and butter.
“The 10-year period since we opened has been an evolution,” Troiano says. “It’s become a place that guests from our community, and even people who come from out of town, really enjoy. Ron worked at the MCL cafeteria for 10 years, and he developed solid relationships with a bunch of farmers all around the state and Midwest, too. We source locally from places like Tuttle Orchards east of Indy and Goin’s Blueberry Lane in northern Indiana.”
Outside you’ll find rustic dining tables, stacked firewood and a sizeable grilling area where hog roasts are served up seasonally. Enter the front door and you’re almost instantly hit with aromas from seasonal flowers and pies that are continually being prepped in the kitchen. The walls inside are lined with jams, jellies, cheeses, sodas and wines from local and regional purveyors, as well as a large collection of cookbooks – many of which are from Harris’s personal collection.
“We have quite a few people that we see often – there’s one guy I always see who gets our dinners usually twice a week,” says Troiano, the only other full-time LGG employee along with Harris. “It’s great to see that connection with the community.”
Troiano says LGG has become synonymous with the pies it regularly churns out, including sugar cream and apple year-round, as well as seasonal favorites like pumpkin and pecan in the fall. Store browsers will also find sets of Laguiole silverware and Pillivuyt porcelain dishes for sale, and Troiano says LGG is one of only two locations in the state to offer the latter.
“I think we’ve been able to be successful by providing the highest quality products we can at a very affordable price,” Troiano adds. “Particularly with our restaurant menu and our pies. That’s what brings a lot of our customers in. We’re always trying to serve the community by being respectful and helpful and leave customers feeling good. When you have that kind of strong relationship with the community, everyone benefits from that.”
Locally Grown Gardens is located at 1050 East 54th Street, next to the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple. Call 317-255-8555 or visit locallygrowngardens.com for more info.