Urban farm to uproot from Old Fourth Ward, move soil and all to Ashview Heights

Old Fourth Ward urban farm on the move.

In December, Creative Loafing reported that Truly Living Well's urban farm was saying adios to the Old Fourth Ward after six years of growing fresh produce near the heart of Atlanta. The organization can now announce its next home: Ashview Heights on Atlanta's Westside.

Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture President Rashid Nuri says the reason behind the move is simple – the farm's lease is up. Nuri says the Wheat Street Charitable Foundation, which owns the land the farm currently sits on a few blocks from Auburn Avenue, plans to build on that site.  Before TLW built the farm, the land the vacant site of a former affordable housing complex. Since TLW built its six-acre farm on the site, the surrounding area and Old Fourth Ward has become a development hotspot. WSCF did not return repeated requests for comment about its plans for the property. In 2010, the foundation completed a master plan that included church-sponsored housing. 
<o:p> More than 10 years ago, Nuri, a farmer with decades of experience, began Truly Living Well with the mission that it would connect communities, create jobs, provide nutritious food, foster economic development, and show how urban farming can actually work. <o:p> “For five years I was able to say we were located in the shadow of skyscrapers," Nuri says. "People could see the possibility of an urban farm." <o:p> But by the end of the year, the organization will move all its trees, soil, and plants from Wheat Street — "We're taking everything with us that we can to our new site," Nuri says — to its new location in Ashview Heights. He notes the Lawton Street property is located near "an elementary school, a YMCA, Boy's and Girls Club, a church, the Atlanta Beltline, senior citizens home, and the Atlanta University Center. These are places where many of our programs will continue to touch the lives of people."

The neighborhood is located near the Atlanta University Center and bordered by the Atlanta Beltline's under-construction Westside Trail. According to Ashview Heights Neighborhood Association President Elizabeth Hall, the community has recently been in a state of flux. Last week, Hall says, residents came together to paint over gang-related graffiti on the wall of a busy corner store across from M. Agnes Elementary School. Students will paint a mural on the wall by the end of the school year, Hall says. Hall says TLW's location near the school is another community benefit. Instead of buying chips or candy and hanging out at the corner store after classes, she says, children will be able to walk to the farm and buy a piece of fruit and engage with agriculture. Giving children the opportunity to see how plants are grown is part of TLW's mission and Nuri says the new location will allow TLW to continue to function just as it did at Wheat Street. “We will continue to do training and education,” Nuri says. “We’ll be on the Beltline, near elementary schools, the Atlanta University Center, and senior citizen housing. All our constituencies are right there.”

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