K. Rashid Nuri is a farmer. If this statement conjures an image of a white two-story farmhouse situated at the top of a rise, overlooking acre upon acre of planted fields that have been handed down through six generations, put a pin in it. Nuri is not that kind of farmer. A city boy, he grew up in Boston. His father had been an educator, his step-father a Navy man, and his mother a community activist. Nuri enrolled in Harvard to pursue a life in politics. He graduated with a degree in political science and enough math and science under his belt to pursue medicine if he was so inclined. But Rashid was a child of the ‘60s who dedicated his life to making a difference. He understood the fundamentals behind nation building—it doesn’t start from the top down; it starts from the bottom up. A nation’s first need is to clothe, shelter, and feed its people. Nuri chose food. “I set out to learn all about food from the seed to the table, and wanted to do this through practical experience.”
He started with a Masters in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Massachusetts. Practical experience began when his first job after college took him to San Diego County, California, where he installed organic gardens. Since that time he has worked in more than 35 countries around the world. “I have built farms, managed farms, worked with government, managed a 30,000 rose bush garden, taught organic farming, and spent years in agribusiness working with feed, seed, poultry, cotton and oilseed processing, and commodity trading.” He also served four years as a senior executive in the Clinton Administration, which included time served as the Deputy Administrator of the Farm Service Agency and Foreign Agricultural Service for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In 2006, Nuri brought his 40 years of experience to the creation of Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms. This community supported agricultural project grows food on four sites in the Metropolitan Atlanta Area, providing nutritionally-rich, fresh-picked, organic produce to the community. Organic, urban food production minimizes the carbon footprint. Crops are not stored and shipped over great distances. Food does not lose its nutritional value. Crops are not contaminated by unwashed trucks or storage bins.
Most of the food produced by the farm is sold through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, which are sold on a revolving basis. Each subscription punch card is good for 13 boxes of food, to be redeemed at the buyer’s convenience. Member subscription fees provide capital to purchase supplies and fund the operations. Truly Living Well also sells produce to local restaurants and to the community at large.
Yes, K. Rashid Nuri is a farmer. He is also a social activist. He fights hunger through his outreach efforts to help students, organizations, and individuals plant sustainable, organic gardens and through teaching opportunities at his farm. He serves on the board of Georgia Organics and is a member of the Atlanta Local Food Initiative. He is also OLM’s newest contributor and advisor.
Check out Nuri’s article on How to Start Your Own Organic Garden in the next issue.