According to Chris Clinton of Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet, we pass by free food every day.Clinton and Isia Cooper run a small urban farm in the southern outskirts of Atlanta. Through over the last four years this duo has carved out an agricultural niche in the city on their farm, they’ve built reputations as local experts on urban foraging.
“A few generations ago, people knew what wild things were good to eat,” Chris said. “Once you start foraging, purposefully looking for wild food that is growing all around us, it comes back to you quickly. It’s a natural thing for us all. We occasionally do an introductory course and its fun when the stigma is gone of everything being poisonous. There’s food all around.”
A regular presence at both the Grant Park Farmers Market and the East Atlanta Market, the Crack in the Sidewalk farmers are notorious for bringing a small amount of produce and substituting foraged goods, like mushrooms, for any shortage of home-grown fare. Market-goers have even, on various occasions, witnessed Chris plucking new treats from Grant Park trees to add to the duo’s market stall “People know that we offer unusual things and have come to expect that from us,” Chris says.
Although Chris is the most passionate urban forager of Crack in the Sidewalk, both members of this barefooted duo believe in the importance of utilizing their surroundings. Isia explains, “Several of our gardens are on blighted, abandoned properties. We want to be able to contribute in places that aren’t being used to their potential.”
With this philosophy in mind, Crack in the Sidewalk was developed into more of a collection of backyard gardens than a typical, singular farm. “As Isia and I have grown and learned, we’ve become increasingly interested in the health of communities and homesteading,” Chris said. “We’ve put so much of ourselves into what we’ve done here, we aren’t going to pick up and leave it to die. We’ve got this vision of continuing to grow and establishing something permanent, building up this community around what we’re doing.”
Chris and Isia believe that anyone who truly understands in the importance of urban farming can do what they are doing. Chris’ advice for the rising generation of farmers-in-training? “Start small, with just a little more than you think you can handle. And make sure that you have a lot of love. Then, you’ll be able to do it, even if it’s difficult.”
Whether it’s the revitalization of local land or simply pointing to the food naturally produced all around, the Crack in the Sidewalk farmers live up to their name. They provide a fresh perspective on what has been right in front of us all along.
Curious to sample some of Chris and Isia’s wild edibles? You can purchase their goods every week at the Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.