- Sumayya Allen.
I am a full-time student of Environmental Studies at Emory University, married and raising three kids. My interest in sustainable agriculture developed into a passion after I spent time working on an organic agricultural cooperative on a Pueblo reservation in New Mexico. I have come to recognize that growing good clean food in urban areas can be a viable solution to both reducing urban poverty and food insecurity. I am excited at any opportunity to learn more about the science and art of sustainable urban agriculture, and I am committed to a life of service through applying my knowledge and expertise to growing healthy soil, food, and communities.
- Sydney Armistead.
I am participating in the Urban Ag Training program because I want to become a larger part of the sustainable agriculture movement. There were not many opportunities in the sustainable food/agriculture industry when I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Horticulture. My love for cooking has motivated me to learn more about where my food comes from and the techniques that are practiced in growing good, local, and fair food. Through this program, I hope to learn more about urban farming so I can educate others and become an advocate for eating local and fair food.
- Seanna Berry. I am new to Atlanta, currently studying community food systems and land use at Georgia Tech. Four years ago, I left my 9-5 office job in Boston to learn what it takes to grow food organically. I spent the last few years traveling all over the country working on farms and in nurseries, from the mountains of Vermont and Alaska to tropical Hawaii and Florida. I love growing food, and I also love living in cities. I see a lot of opportunity in the way we shape our cities and utilize our resources to better include agriculture and incorporate it into city planning. Local farmer’s markets, CSAs, farm to school programs, and community gardens are such an amazing way to strengthen our connections to one another, develop the local economy, and reconnect to nature. I am grateful to be part of this Georgia Organics program and the Atlanta movement to increase the amount of fresh, local, and affordable food for the community.
- Rashonda Clay-Douthit. I have worked in the mental health field as a therapist for 15 years and have been interested in gardening nearly as long. While researching the use of gardening as a therapeutic treatment modality, I was told about permaculture by a fellow therapist. After reading more about it, I realized that the “symbiotic” relationship between humans and nature is something that I am passionate about. For almost 4 years, I was a Program Director at a residential program for teen mothers and their children who are in state custody. Working with this population significantly contributed to my interest in teaching the concepts of sustainability, food security, healthy living and self-sufficiency to vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. I strongly believe that encouraging and supporting gardening with at-risk youth benefits them on many levels. In addition to teaching them how to grow their own food, it increases their environmental awareness and develops a knowledge base that could result in future employment opportunities. Of course, there is also the therapeutic benefit and “healing” that many people experience when caring for a garden. Ultimately, I would like to start a self-sustaining non profit or socially conscious for profit business that somehow integrates my clinical background and interest/training in Urban Agriculture.
- Kate Dorrough. I work for Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program as a full-time puppeteer. Our goal as a company is to teach kids in the metro-Atlanta area, and as far as Colbert, GA about good nutrition and exercise. I have been inspired by my present career to work with underserved students, and provide opportunities that will offer them healthy, active-living experiences. I believe this program would offer me the opportunity to harness the tools to develop a foundation for students to understand how food can be grown in an ethical manner; how they can support themselves through gardening, and harvest some tasty vegetables!
- Jessica Echols. My experience with agriculture started at a young age, gardening with my grandfather. I can remember experimenting with new varieties of vegetables and checking to see how they fared. As an adult living in the city, I have made it a priority to continue those practices. I have an eight-year-old garden whose footprint grows every year. I am so excited to learn more about farming from the people that know the most, local organic farmers. What they do is so important. Growing good food has become my biggest passion. I believe that living your best life depends on access to healthy foods. Our food is one of the most important the building blocks for our lives. I want to do everything I can to help everyone gain access to organic, healthy whole foods.
- Bassey Etuk. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. A season ago I started volunteering at the Umoja Garden at the Hunger Coalition behind Carver High School and it quickly became a passion of mine. Growing is something I really enjoy and hopefully I can help the Umoja garden help end the food drought for the Caver Homes Community!
- Dary Goodrich. I am the Chocolate Products Manager for Equal Exchange, a pioneer of fair trade coffee in the US. In my job I engage directly with co-operatives of small-scale cacao growers in Latin America. The more I’ve worked with our farmer partners internationally, the more I’ve wanted to get some hands-on farming experience of my own. The GO Urban Agriculture Program is a great way to get my hands dirty while learning what it means to be an urban farmer in the US. Though there are a lot of differences between growing cacao in the Dominican Republic and growing tomatoes in Atlanta, the program has taught me that there are many more similarities than differences. It’s also easy to see that small-scale farming, though hard work, can be a great tool for building community no matter where you are.
- Jim Hake. The idea of organic farming, especially in an urban environment to increase the availability of good tasting and healthier food choices, really excites me. I have some growing experience from helping on my Grandfather’s farm when I was younger in. This program with Georgia Organics will provide many educational opportunities for me to learn about growing organic. My goal is to transition a couple acres of land into an organic farm and be able provide a great variety of good food to many. For now I am happy to volunteer my time and work with the terrific farms in the program.
- Holly Jeane Griesser. I started growing my own vegetables about five years ago in self-watering containers on my patio. Two years ago we built some raised beds in our back yard, but we soon learned the house shaded too much of the yard and the vegetables did not grow very well in the raised beds. A new community garden opened near my neighborhood last spring. My husband and I signed up for a plot and grew various vegetables organically in a 250 sq ft plot. Our first season brought about mixed success (the eggplant and hot peppers did great! The beans…not so much). Having our organic garden plot over the past year led me to read more on organic gardening and about sustainably grown local food systems in general. I am so grateful this past year led me to find out more about Georgia Organics and I am honored to be participating in the Urban Agriculture Training Program this year. Over the past several decades many of us have lost sight of where our food comes from beyond the local supermarket. I want to work with local farmers and the local community to bring that knowledge back to people and I look forward to helping enhance access to fresh, local and sustainably grown fruits & vegetables in our community.
- Dana Jewel Harris. In 2008, I launched The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program to teach at-risk youth how to identify and successfully utilize resources “within their own backyards” that can enhance their future development activities. Today, we manage Atwood Community Gardens – a 3.5 acre S.T.E.M-based urban agriculture training center and outdoor event facility. NEXT Steps utilizes transferable skills within the urban agriculture industry to introduce at risk youth to career pathways in science, technology, engineering and math (S.T.E.M.), strategic business planning, special event coordination, investigative research and discovery, community service, environmental stewardship, and social entrepreneurism. Atwood Community Gardens is located at 779 Atwood Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310 – in the heart of West End Atlanta (near the Atlanta University Center, Morehouse & Spelman Colleges).
- Androniki Lagos. For the past 5 years I have been part of a small team promoting the brand and mission of Divine Chocolate, a company co-owned by smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana. The farmers who co-own Divine have shown me how their lives were transformed by dignified trading relationships and through access to tools to understand the global market of which they are an integral part. I moved to Atlanta in 2010 and was struck by the ubiquitous plots of vacant, underutilized or decaying land in the heart of the city. Urban agriculture seemed the most obvious remedy, getting straight to the cross-section of poverty, unemployment and health issues. Food cultivation is an indispensable skill from which urban Atlantans can benefit for generations to come. Atlanta’s urban farming community is ever impressive and I hope to contribute to the movement through the establishment of additional small farms and greenhouses in the city limits. I am an avid and indiscriminate lover of food, especially fresh vegetables. I believe it is an absolute human right to know and grow one’s own food.
- Jenna Mobley. I grew up in an intentional community in Alabama called Common Ground Community where I experienced a connection with the land we lived on through growing and raising food. As I grew up and moved away from the community, my goal became to give children in urban environments a similar experience and understanding of connectedness that I had grown up with. For the past three years, I have been worked on the garden program at Springdale Park Elementary School teaching grades kindergarten through fifth grade to nurture their land in order to nourish their bodies.
- Terri Miller. I am originally from Ohio but have happily called Atlanta my home for the past 9 years. I am interested in Urban Agriculture for a number of reasons. I have my Master of Public Health and work as a Health Educator/Program Coordinator currently within the field of Injury Prevention but, I would love to one day work on food security and environmental health issues. I feel that our current commodity based food system is not healthy for us or the environment and that we will need to continue to see a grass roots reorganization of our priorities to allow people the opportunity for fresh, local food. Gardening is also a favorite pastime and I enjoy the fact that no matter how much you know or how “good” you get at growing, there is always something more to learn or something different to try.
- Amy Price. I enjoy eating good food. I think that’s the reason that I’m interested in farming. There’s so much satisfaction that comes from planting a seed, watching it grow, and then cooking up something delicious. I didn’t grow up farming but through my work in environmental education, I found organic farming. I currently teach gardening skills to adults with developmental disabilities at the Frazer Center and coordinate an acre farm at Camp Twin Lakes. Before moving to Atlanta, I was farming in Rwanda. I want to learn skills to allow me to have a stronger background in Urban Farming to teach the adults where I work.
- Rick Starry. I work as an IT Project Manager and much of my life is centered around an abstract world of data. This urban agriculture program has helped to keep me grounded. Most of my adult life I have tried to be keenly aware of where items I consume originate from, whether its material items or food. I was raised as a child in NH with a great deal of respect for the earth/nature. As I became more aware of the source of so much of my food, I became more concerned about the devastating impact of modern day agriculture on the earth. As a result of this awareness, my own food choices changed significantly. And I also realized in dealing with such a large scale problem, that it’s not always an individual that can make a difference, but a collective group of individuals with a new vision. A part of that vision is local urban agriculture and growing more food in smaller spaces. This is the future. I recently received a permaculture certification, and will continue to integrate this knowledge with my urban agriculture training, and share this knowledge with neighbors and communities throughout our great city of Atlanta.