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Truly Living Well is Growing Food, People and Community

Intro by John Ahmann:  Our guest columnist this week is Carol Hunter, Executive Director of Truly Living Well (TLW). I am grateful to Carol for sharing with us Truly Living Well’s impact and the organization’s innovative programs and activities in agricultural training, nutrition, education and job creation – all of which are mission-aligned with the Westside Future Fund’s impact strategies, particularly through a shared commitment to community health and wellness, and cradle to career education.  

Truly Living Well’s Collegetown farm site is a vital resource to the Ashview Heights neighborhood, which is located in Westside Future Fund’s targeted footprint. We’ve had the opportunity to bring several corporate partners to participate in volunteer service events at the Farm, including partnering most recently with AT&T for a service event to help the farm become ADA compliant.

Carol was our featured guest at the April 19th Transform Westside Summit. Demonstrating the “power of We”, Carol brought together two wonderful community partners to take part in that morning’s conversation: Kim Karris, Executive Director of Food Well Alliance and Dr. Margul Retha Woolfolk, Principal M. Agnes Jones Elementary School. You can catch a replay of Truly Living Well’s presentation via our Transform Westside Summit livestream on Facebook. Be sure to join us at the upcoming Summit on May 3rd, when we will joined by Chris 180.

Truly Living Well is Growing Food, People and Community

Carol Hunter

By Carol Hunter, Executive Director of Truly Living Well

When I am asked about my role as Executive Director of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW) I tell people that it is more than a job. It is a calling, an assignment that God placed on my heart. A little over two years ago, I had just become a grandmother, and began thinking about slowing down and taking more time with family  after building a 20+ year career. But in 2018, when TLW’s Founder, Rashid Nuri stepped down, I felt that I had been called upon to step up and continue to build upon his legacy. His assignment was done. Mine had begun.

Truly Living Well is a nonprofit founded by K. Rashid Nuri in 2006 as a model of the transformative power of urban agriculture. Today, the work of  TLW is demonstrating a local sustainable food economy in the viability of producing high quality, naturally grown foods in the urban environment.  In the process, we grow food, we grow people and we grow community. We are committed to bringing good food, good health and well-being to Atlanta’s urban communities that have little access to it. Our guiding principles emulate nature in the production of food, educate our community old and young, and create a safe and welcoming green space where diverse communities can gather to grow and share.

TLW’s two metro Atlanta farm sites (Ashview Heights and East Point) produce Certified Naturally Grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other added-value products. With over 84 raised beds, more than 200 fruit trees, bee hives, a hoop house and grow house – our farm sites have the capacity to supply thousands of pounds of locally grown, healthy foods to our community.

Through our educational programs, we are helping young people learn how to live healthier lives. One of our campers Tiffany, was diagnosed with high blood pressure at age 11. Tiffany’s doctors recommended diet and exercise to bring her pressure within control.  Tiffany’s mother brought her to our summer camp, where Tiffany experienced a positive turnaround. Through Camp Truly Living Well, Tiffany learned about healthy food by actually taking part in growing it and preparing it with our camp chef. She was engaged in physical activity around the farm, and after two camp sessions, her high blood pressure was under control.

Tiffany’s story shows that it’s not enough to provide access to food. We can help our community understand the nutritional value of food by strengthening the connection to how it’s grown; how to store or prepare it in more healthy ways.

TLW’s Collegetown Farm is across the street from is M. Agnes Jones Elementary School – one of our community partners in education. Through our partnership we are reaching  and helping to shape the next generation of urban farmers and leaders. We have children who are excelling in STEAM because they have access to an innovative laboratory (our farm) where they are applying what’s being learned in the classroom through observation, application, and experimentation at the farm.

Educating adults is equally as critical. Through our Urban Grower Boot Camps, Truly Living Well offers programs for persons interested in growing for themselves or starting an agri-business.  Over 300 individuals have been trained in practical urban farming and agricultural techniques. Many of our successful growers are now working in the Atlanta local food industry.

I invite all of Atlanteans to join me in imagining a community where our food travels zero miles from farm to table. This is a  community where urban farmers can make a livable wage. It is a community where people of all incomes can walk, jog and bike to get access to fresh food on a weekly basis at our community farmers markets. Where our children are learning to value healthy food and continue the tradition of growing and eating locally.

We invite you to join us in making this a reality today. Community partnerships are valuable connections to help us grow.  There are three ways to become engaged that help our nonprofit.

Collegetown Farm is a 5-acre site where you can rent space for events. It’s a great opportunity to connect people with their food and help sustain our farm.

You can participate in a volunteer experience, as an individual or as a part of a group.  Volunteers may work alongside one of our farmers or we can create a unique experience for larger groups.

Additionally, I encourage you to sign up for one of our classes to learn how to grow food, whether it’s herbs on your back patio or collards and carrots in your backyard. There’s a holistic exchange that occurs when we get our hands in the soil and interact with nature.

Don’t forget to join us at Soil Fest Festival 2019.


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