K. Rashid Nuri takes pride in converting rundown housing projects into urban farms. He oversees six locations around Atlanta through his work at the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. Last year, the farms produced more than 35,000 pounds of food and provided employment to 35 people. “We are taking back the land and growing food in urban areas. We’re teaching people how to grow food wherever they are … in their kitchen windows, patios and backyards.” An urban farmer, Nuri has been working in the field for decades, including at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton.
Community-supported agriculture requires government, schools, universities and neighborhoods to work together. “To create a natural living city, we need to build and maintain the infrastructure to support it,” he said.
Truly Living Well has three focus areas – to grow food for people in urban food deserts, to teach people how to become urban gardeners and to build sustainable communities. It offers day classes, such as Gardening 101, as well as a six-month urban growing training course. Local chefs also provide weekly food preparation demonstrations at its two open-air farmers’ markets.
Nuri is happy youth are getting involved in the sustainability movement. More than 100 children spend their days at the center’s summer camp, where they learn to design and plant garden beds, as well as take care of chickens. Each month, the center also provides to student groups 15 farm tours focused on urban agriculture.
Nuri believes everyone can benefit from gardening. “The garden is a place of peace,” he said. “You have to be present. You have to take the time to listen to the soil and the plants. Growing takes humility and patience.”
To learn more, visit trulylivingwell.com.
To read more inspiring examples of community health initiatives, see Aetna’s 2014 African American History Calendar.