Proposed Multilevel Elevated Urban Farm in Atlanta
Atlanta Artist and Arts Educator’s Design Selected As Semifinalist In Mayor’s Trinity Avenue Farm Design Competition
By Meisha Card
Atlanta, GA – On August 24, 2011 Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed along with City of Atlanta Officials, the University of Georgia and Wal-Mart Representatives announced an Urban Farm Design Competition to transform 0.8 acres of land located directly across from City Hall into a thriving demonstration farm. The farm would be a key component in the City of Atlanta’s Power to Change sustainability plan. Visual Artist Lillian Blades and Arts Educator Meisha Card responded to the call in designing an elevated urban farm they hope will serve as a center for sustainable farm education and a source of inspiration for individuals from all walks of life. They enlisted the help of The Epsten Group and Breedlove Land Planning to bring their design to life and collectively entered the competition as Team Elevate.
The team name is synonymous with the farm design and the sentiment they hope to evoke as it relates to fostering elevated thinking and living through sustainable farming practices, education, and community service. The state of the art farm design is a work of art and features the latest in water harvesting and solar energy technologies, a restaurant, welcome center, farm plaza and 5 levels of farming deck demonstrating a wide range of sustainable farming methods. Their team was selected as a semifinalist out of close to 80 groups that participated in the Mayor’s Trinity Avenue Farm Design Competition.
Education and Community Involvement are at the heart of everything associated with Card and Blades’ urban farm design. Educational Programming and Community Involvement as well as Crop List and Growing Chart sections of their team website spell out all of the ways in which they would like to see the farm used along with the crops and farming methods they would like to see represented. They are proposing that the city partner with various youth organizations such as So Green and HmB-HAH to train youth in urban farming and development before sending them out into the community as Urban Farm Educators to lead communities, schools, organizations and offices in the design and development of sustainable urban gardens. They are also proposing that farm visitors have the option of taking a self-guided tour or being led by a Youth Farm Guide through the farm as part of an interactive learning experience.
In developing the design, Card desired to maximize the 0.8 acres of land by taking the farm design up envisioning an elevated farm structure that contained levels of farming. She wanted to create a design that would not only serve as an education center for people of all walks of like but would inspire youth in particular to get excited about urban farming while incorporating a restaurant, amphitheater, event center, in-door and out-door classrooms, a welcome center and 5 levels of farming deck. As a visual artist, Blades envisioned a farm sculpture and added beautiful curves that took the design to another level artistically ensuring that the design would not only be a place of agricultural education and discovery but a work of art. Blades designed a vertical farming gate, vertical farming sculpture and interior assemblage artwork, educational kiosks and mosaic picnic tables for the farm design that would make use of recycled and sustainable materials.
Card wanted to ensure that the design was buildable and made use of the most advance sustainable building technologies. She also wanted to build a team to enter the competition that would be just as diverse as the citizens who she hoped to inspire through the design so she enlisted the help of The Epsten Group (an Atlanta based female owned sustainable architectural firm) and Breedlove Land Planning (a sustainable landscape firm based in Conyers, GA) to bring she and Blades’ design to life. As Co-Designer and Project Manager, Card named the team Team Elevate, a name that is synonymous with the farm design and the actions they hope to evoke in the lives of every passerby and visitor. Landscape Architect Alan Wieczynski served as Landscape Manager on Team Elevate alongside Roger Wells of Breedlove Land Planning while Architect Pete Choquette served as Building Manager alongside architect Michael McGrath and interior designer Kate Menke of The Epsten Group. With the slogan, “Elevated thinking and elevated living through sustainable farming practices, education, and community service,” Card believes that the design can be used to address many of the tough environmental, social and economic issues seen in society today. Ultimately, she hope that their urban farm design will be used to empower and equip families and children from all walks of life through sustainable urban farming with the power to change and elevate above their current living conditions. She believe that the one of a kind design would undoubtedly put Atlanta on the map for urban farming and serve as a physical symbol of Atlanta’s elevated thinking when it comes to sustainable farming while serving as a model for other cities to follow throughout the world. For additional information on Team Elevate members, the urban farm design and video footage visit www.teamelevateatlantageorgia.weebly.com .
“Farming is a part of our inheritance and Americans. It is our birthright as human beings. Sadly, we have moved away from embracing this reality. Environmental issues that are a result of our abuse of natural resources, a high incidence of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes as well as food deserts have become the norm of the day. We cannot afford to continue down this road to destruction. We must stop, reflect and look to our rich agricultural roots while supporting the advancement of new agricultural technology in order to ensure that every citizen leads a healthy and productive life.” –Meisha Card, Team Elevate