K. Rashid Nuri – urban farmer in Atlanta, Georgia
Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms
By Thomas Wheatley
Fresh Loaf. Atlanta news, politics, media and mischief
March 25, 2010
Boston-born and Harvard-educated K. Rashid Nuri’s love of agriculture has taken him around the world. The 62-year-old urban farmer — and former Clinton appointee to the U.S. Agriculture Department — operates Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms, a network of organic metro Atlanta farms that offers fresh food and teaches how crops can enrich lives and build communities.
What made you dedicate your life to farming?
I’m a child of the 1960s. Back then, we were talking about nation building. In order to build a nation, you’ve got to be able to feed, clothe, and shelter your people. So I decided that I wanted to learn everything about food, from the seed to the table.
What caused people to lose their connection with the land and food?
We are an urban society. That’s taking us away from our soil. Atlanta’s a cleaner city by virtue of open space and trees, but it’s also one of the most toxic. The best way to mitigate this toxicity and reduce our carbon footprint is to grow our own food. This is because the food isn’t traveling. It cuts out that energy expense by more than half.
Why is it important to reconnect people with agriculture?
We’ve gotten too far away from the land. Most of the food we eat travels 1,700 or more miles to get to our table. It’s important for people to know who grows it, the quality, where it comes from. And that’s what we’re trying to do — help people get grounded and reconnected with the land.
What do you grow?
Right now, we have collards, kale, mustards, turnips, broccoli, char, carrots, lettuce, arugula. That’s not bad, huh? (laughs)
What are some of the challenges and some of the benefits of being an urban farmer in metro Atlanta?
Getting municipalities to understand. Some cities have regulations against people having backyard chickens, for example. Impediments are created. Helping people get greater awareness. And getting civic leaders involved in the process. We have the land, we have the space, we just need to create support for the work rather than impediments.