Local author Michael Gregory has written a sort of manifesto in his book, The Urban Agrarian, A Harvest of Nature, A Harvest of Spirit. The book has won praise from a spectrum of ecologically concerned folks, from environmental activists, to an Atlanta church council, to Ann Daniels, head of the Garden Club of Alabama, who says:
"[The book] is filled with inspirational passages as well as practical advice; it invites the beginners to experience the magical qualities of gardening, and reminds the seasoned ones that the transformational powers of gardening can refresh the spirit of the gardener, while at the same time directly improving the lives of those with whom the bountiful harvest is shared."
Gregory's son is Noel Glasgow, whom you might recognize as the creator of Bravo Gelato's adventurous flavors. Noel is now acting as one of UA's main organizers and spokespeople and has struck a deal to install their first pilot garden project in the lot behind The Frothy Monkey on 12th Avenue South.
Longtime Frothy Monkey employee Ryan Pruitt recently purchased the restaurant from Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, allowing her to concentrate on her burgeoning Burger Up empire. Pruitt, along with partners Heather Southerland and Richard May, have made it a point to ensure a seamless transition of ownership and most patrons probably haven't even noticed the changeover. But once they see what's planned for the back parking lot, even the most unobservant customer will know something exciting is in the works.
Operating from plans created as a pro bono project by landscape designer Ann Daigh, a troop of UA and Frothy Monkey volunteers are seeking to convert an overgrown strip of land along the edge of their property into a place where people can learn how to plant their own urban gardens and even take home some of the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.
This year's plans are to clear the space and trim trees to ensure better sun for the plantings. UA is soliciting donations of topsoil so that they can condition it and hopefully plant some greens and fall vegetables as their first crops. If you're interested in donating or volunteering, visit the UA website or contact Noel directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members who pay $50 to join UA will receive a copy of Gregory's book, a shirt, a sticker and a poster as well as helping fund the garden. If you decide you don't want any of the swag, you can earmark all of your donation to planting.
UA will also send a free newsletter to members to keep them abreast of volunteer opportunities and news regarding the sustainable urban farming movement. Frothy Monkey plans to sell copies of the book at the restaurant and hopes to offer a UA salad on their menu every day, featuring items from the garden.
Future plans include using this garden as a place to train youth groups, school and churches in how to create their own community gardens that can share healthy food with neighborhoods in food deserts. Here's hoping that they get some traction.