Listen to snippet of Rashid Nuri discussing what urban farming means to him and how he's involved.
Publish Date: Jan 08, 2021
urban agriculture. Those air two words that don't seem like they should be fitting together, but they do. Increasingly, people are talking about urban agriculture. But what do we mean when we say urban agriculture? Well, my guest today knows all about it. He's been doing it for years all over the world. My guest from Atlanta is Rashid Nuri, and I really am happy to welcome Rashid to farm to table talk Russian. When did you start using the term urban agriculture back in the early seventies? Well, that really was the early days. I bet people were scratching their head when they heard you say urban agriculture. Then that's the job. People think I'm crazy now. You can imagine what they thought back then. So what was your situation in the early seventies? Finished school and went out to California to find some work. Actually, the best schooling I had was several months that I traveled all over California, uh, visiting California, the richest agricultural producing region in the history of the world. And I was up and down the Central Valley and all around trying toe see about what kind of work I could do and talking with and to so many of the agriculture that cotton almond growers, great growers, the vegetable growers artichokes out in Watsonville. Um, just learning Mawr mawr. From a practical point of view how commercial agriculture works the first work I actually did with in San Diego. They wouldn't even give me a full title off extension agent. I was an assistant extension agent, but I worked with Children in schools. We built community gardens when I started. There was only one community garden in San Diego County when I left, but I came back. Sometime later, they had 60 eso. We help get that started with building urban farm in the middle of the city. So and you know, as the years have gone on, I've come to understand urban agriculture and much broader sense. Just growing food in a garden. Urban agriculture as opposed urban farming. Urban agriculture covers a much you have thio be concerned about food, water, housing, all of that played into it, and I have discovered that urban agriculture culture cannot solve, but it certainly could be part of the solution to any problems that you have in urban area. I've ended up my work here that that phase in my work twice not built the largest urban farm in the metropolitan area. And what we find is that wherever we build a farm, uh, property values go up, crime goes down. We created a, uh, space book that's safe for people, women and Children. We used no chemicals at all. Onda we become the center of activity. The truly living well centered for natural urban agriculture, even organization. When did you establish the truly living well center? It was conceived in 2005 and broke ground in 2006. So you broke ground. So you actually have a facility there? Oh, yes. The largest in the city. Uh, seven acres with who? Pals. Greenhouse, aquaponics, composting raised beds in ground bed 100. And they just planted new trees. 140 fruit trees. Um, Beehive. It's pretty. Pretty organic. It's pretty complete is in Atlanta. Well, this from the current farm is in the West end. Do you know where the Atlanta University centers of the Morehouse spelling? No, I don't I don't know that. All right. Yeah. It's very, very much in the city. We had one of the old fourth ward, which we moved from, and from that site on the freeway we were the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers. But this is part of what our work has done is exposing a greater community to the what what urban agriculture can look like in the contribution that can make to the society. Describe the neighborhood for us there since the middle of it. When I say Central City, Um, oftentimes I mean just black people. Um, this case that's not true. There's the neighborhood's gentrifying. The first one large farm we did, which was six plus acres, was right there. The university, Georgia State University uh, Grady Hospital on and across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was Martin Luther King Junior's home Church s. So we were right there. Now we moved on the other side of three way to the west side of town. That was the East side now on the west side, and we have Morehouse Spelman Clark, which is the center of the black colleges in the metropolitan area and with three blocks west of the, uh, stadium in the neighborhood, that is, uh, um becoming highly integrated either upper, middle and upper middle class people that resigned in both those neighborhoods that I just described. How is that going? Being in the midst of gentrification? Yeah, that's the problem. And, you know, gentrification is a very polite term for what is indeed white traffic ation. Most Both of these neighborhoods were predominantly black at one time. Both of the sites that we that we grew on the largest sites that we had used to be housing projects. So the concern that I am that all these people who used to live on these in these the public housing, where have they gone? How have they been provided for? And that is, you know, the the deconstruction. Besides, uh, right in the middle of the Depression, uh, that we had some years ago, people got moved out of the city into houses that they couldn't afford yet. Now we still have all these folks who are homeless. Um, it's distressing. Yes, but the other side of it is every neighborhood that features the neighborhoods that we've been in, uh, reason I make that distinction. We have a lot of smaller plots around the city that that we have grown up with these two large ones, um, the biggest, biggest farms in the area. But each of their the crime has gone down. Sex trade is diminished, Drug trade is gone. Property values go up. And two of my work, we've been able to increase employment. We have as many as 35 people on the payroll. Um, the education programs that we have training people in agriculture quarter cultural literacy, which is knowing who grows your food, the quality of your food where your food comes from, Um, financial literacy as well as actually how to grow food. We've had as many as four farmers markets a week where we sold our food. Um, so you know, the sub title for my work is we grow food, we grow people, we grow communities. And to be living well has done that here in Atlanta.