Living healthy begins with eating healthy food. Last week’s “Farm To Table” workshop at Georgia Southern University demonstrated excellent ways in which chemicals-free fruits and vegetables can be produced in urban settings.
In addition, urban gardens can be an excellent community builder. A shining example for urban renewal is found in Atlanta, where Rashid Nuri heads the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (www.trulylivingwell.net).
In this model garden, the staff, volunteers and visitors learn how to grow food with minimal space usage, utilizing natural methods of production. “Anyone who can use a rake, shovel, or hoe can grow food using TLW’s methods,” Nuri said. “We provide agricultural training for all ages that is experiential in nature.”
Even if you’re not planning to establish your own garden for natural, unprocessed foods, you can benefit from the project by purchasing products at their farmers market.
“People sometimes ask why it costs a little more than they’d pay at the grocery store,” said Nuri. “It’s because we use traditional methods of growing, with no harmful chemicals, and we fertilize with compost. I tell them that they can pay me now, or pay a doctor later.”
Amazingly, the neighborhoods around TLW showed a marked decrease in crime and a growth of community spirit when the project gained momentum. College campuses have begun to run their own urban farming projects as well. Emory University’s produce gardens are a delight for the eye as well as the palate. At Kennesaw State, students were instrumental in building a vegetable farm that gives back to the university community by providing natural foods at regular market events.
Brenau University is embarking on a similar project, which aims to grow popular produce like tomatoes and squash, and then make them available to needy community groups.
“”The support we’ve received from the administration and especially from students has been amazing,” said Prof. Jessi Shrout of the Science Department. “The last two weekends were dedicated to clearing the site around our new greenhouse, all with volunteer student labor.”
Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor of physical science and director of sustainability at Brenau University. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com.