Truly Living Well is on a mission to provide Atlantans with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The organization is one of many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs around the metro area answering the call from residents who want to eat locally grown, healthy food.
Truly Living Well was created by K. Rashid Nuri, who has spent almost 40 years on a mission to re-connect people to their food and the land. Nuri said the average American’s food travels 1,500 miles to reach the dinner table, and this process depletes the nutrition of the food as well as adding cost and pollution to our lives. The Truly Living food system offers a positive alternative.
As a student at Harvard University in the 1960s, Rashid was inspired to help underdeveloped countries and saw the issue of food – its quality and abundance – as the greatest problem to be solved.
Rashid lived for three years in Southeast Asia, five years in Nigeria, and almost two years in Ghana, before realizing that his place was in America. He served in the Clinton administration as deputy administrator of the Farm Service Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service.
Truly Living Well is farming a two-acre plot in East Point and producing crops of arugula, chard, garlic, lettuce, broccoli, mustard greens, kale, leeks, parsley, onions, herbs, turnips, carrots, beets, rutabaga, green beans, okra, onions, squash, tomatoes, zucchini and herbs.
Funding for Truly Living Well comes by selling subscriptions for produce that is picked up each Wednesday by the subscriber. For $400, a full-share subscriber receives a basket of food weekly for 13 weeks – a growing season. A half-share is available for $250. Delivery can be arranged for a fee. The farm operates year-round and produce is seasonal.
“Many farms around the country sell Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions,” said Rashid, “but most prepare a uniform box of food for their subscribers – a waste, because not everyone likes the same foods. TLW subscribers pick the food they want to take home from what is available each market day and may choose any 13 weeks they prefer, not necessarily consecutively, in order to get the produce they like.”
Rashid said it is important that subscribers see the food they eat growing in the fields. “This establishes a connection to their food and is a vital component of the TLW mission,” he said. “Many subscribers volunteer to work.“
“Food pickup day is like a family reunion, with children picking vegetables, feeding the worms, and parents sharing everything from recipes and growing methods to a food’s history and culture,” he said.
Truly Living Well began in 2006 with very little funding and access to only a 1/3 acre of land. By the end of 2009, it will have approximately 2.5 acres under production, have sold more than 175 subscriptions, have installed more than 25 gardens for other people and have several of the city’s top restaurants and health food stores as customers. It produces compost and worm castings for other gardeners and publishes a newsletter about gardening issues and nutrition.
There are two full-time employees with five to eight part-time employees and many volunteers. Over the past four years it has hosted 1,500 students.
The most ingenious feature of the TLW program is its system for getting the work done. Labor is handled by volunteers, interns and paid workers – a progression that is made as experience is gained by the worker.
This summer over 250 workers have been involved. Some come as a group, others independently. Emory Theological Center Youth Initiative recently sent 15 volunteers and Center for Disease Control 25 interns; 10 young people came from the Juvenile Court, 18 volunteers worked on President Obama’s Service Day, and others were Georgia Organic volunteers.
For more information about Truly Living Well, visit www.trulylivingwell.com or call (404) 520-8331.