Since 2018, the IU Campus Farm has been home to a plot of Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) used for dye in the Fiber Arts Studio on campus. Polygonum tinctorium is a species of flowering plant in the buckwheat family, and is native to Eastern Europe and Asia.
Rowland Ricketts, Associate Dean of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, grows indigo plants at both the IU Campus Farm and at Hilltop Garden and Nature Center at Indiana University, as well as at his home in Bloomington, Indiana.
The plants from the 140’ x 20’ plot at the IU Campus Farm, about 700 row feet of plants, are used for a 55 gallon dye vat in the Fiber Arts Studio on campus. The plots are cut twice each year, yielding about 50-60 pounds of dried leaves to be composted into dye. Indigo dyeing is also part of Hilltop Gardens' family gardening program, their summer Junior Master Gardener Program, WonderCamp field trip, and Boys and Girls Club Camp Rock field trip.