Atlanta-based agricultural community project Truly Living Well is connecting four communities across the city by making its urban farming activities educational. Located in East Point with three other farm sites in Collegetown, Fayettesville and another on Harbin Road, Truly Living Well grows 35,000 pounds (15,875.7 kilograms) of sustainable herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and sells its produce directly to residential communities around the city through various markets four times a week. The organization is working to help urban agriculture, people, and communities flourish through trainings, tours, and volunteer days. The community’s latest initiative includes an educational center and seasonal summer camps.
“Too often people think revolution is burning down buildings and tearing up stuff; that’s rebellion. And revolution begins when the rebellion ends, when you begin to construct that which you want to see in place of what you tore down. I’m building a society in which I want to see my children and grandchildren live,” says the organization’s President and CEO, Rashid Nuri, who started his Truly Living Well revolution in 2006, along with partners Eugene Cooke and Ernest Dunkley.
“We grow food, we grow people, we grow community. We’ve been able to touch a lot of people.”
One of the issues that Truly Living Well highlights and tries to tackle is obesity in the State of Georgia, where 30.5% of adults above 18 years old are considered obese, according to The State Of Obesity. In the U.S., Georgia is the 20th most obese state out of 53. Margul Woolfolk, Principal of M. Agnes Jones Elementary, notes that the 35 urban activists behind Truly Living Well have been doing a pretty good job at tackling the issue head-on. “Truly Living Well has had a major influence on my students understanding the importance of food sustainability, urban agriculture, and healthy eating. It has taken complex concepts and textbook exposure to a higher level.”
The state has made efforts to address its obesity issue. In 2012, the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) launched Georgia SHAPE (Georgia Student Health and Physical Education), a comprehensive childhood obesity prevention initiative. SHAPE was launched as a follow up to the state policy adopted in 2009 requiring each local school district to carry out annual fitness assessments on all students enrolled in public school physical education classes. Three years later, the Governor put preventing childhood obesity as one of the state’s top priorities.
Other than using education to influence Atlantans, Truly Living Well did the math and worked out a financial plan to encourage the community to fill both their baskets and bellies with fresh urban farm produce. As part of its community-supported agriculture program, Atlantans can shop at the farmers’ markets 13 times a year at a discount—$400 per year for a full-share membership and $195 per year for senior citizens.
Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly common in cities looking for sustainability and prosperity. In Shanghai, US-based interdisciplinary planning and design firm Sasaki is constructing a vertical farm encompassing 100 hectares and designed to feed the 24 million people living in China’s first and the world’s fifth most populous city.