The two words aren't mutually exclusive and the concept of a farm-to-table enterprise has taken root in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn neighborhood.
Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms, a five-year-old company which grows and sells fresh produce at various locations throughout metro Atlanta, opened a four-acre farm this month at the corner of Old Wheat and Hilliard streets.
The land for the Wheat Street Garden is being leased from the historic Wheat Street Baptist Church through its charitable foundation. The initial $120,000 funding for the project came from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation on behalf of the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.
"The purpose of the Wheat Street Charitable Foundation is outreach ministry to provide housing and social services for the residents in that housing," said Rhonda Brown, foundation president.
"There was originally a 280-unit housing development on the site and after it was demolished, we did not want it to sit idle as we move towards more development," she said. "The urban farm is a perfect opportunity to keep in touch with our philosophy of helping the community."
Eventually though, the church wants to build housing on or near the site, though there isn't a timetable for when that will happen.
"We're going to see how it works for now," Brown said.
In the meantime, K. Rashid Nuri, Harvard-educated agriculture specialist, world traveler and Truly Living Well's founder, is running Wheat Street Garden.
The farm officially started operations Dec. 5 with a ground-breaking ceremony. Workers are at the farm daily from sunup to sundown.
The long-term goal, Nuri said, is for the farm to generate enough income to be self-sustaining.
"Our idea is we will use the grant money to build infrastructure," Nuri said.
"For example, I'll use the money we just got from [investor] Home Depot to buy the beds. Once we get the infrastructure in place, then we'll generate enough revenue to keep it going. I don't want to solely depend on grants."
Truly Living Well wants to put fresh produce directly in the hands of the consumers first.
"Then, we'll focus on restaurants and stores," Nuri said.
However, the company already provides food to various restaurants, including Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch in Buckhead and Home Grown in Reynoldstown.
While the urban farm is new to Sweet Auburn and neighboring Old Fourth Ward, it's just "a major expansion of our business," Nuri said.Truly Living Well's other farm is on Washington Road in East Point.
"This is the fifth year we've been doing this and they say it takes five to seven years to become an overnight success," he said, with a laugh.
Still, it's the biggest property the company has managed to date.
Asked if starting the venture just before winter makes sense, given that consumers associate farmer's markets with the summer and early fall months, Nuri said he's not concerned.
"We had our first harvest in June of 2006 and I have not missed a week of having food since. And people need food every day," he said.
The urban farm will start harvesting so-called "cool season" crops such as cabbage, mustard greens and spinach. It also is growing onions and garlic, which will be harvested in the spring.
What's more, Truly Living Well's business model generates revenue from multiple income streams, he said.
For example, it offers gardening classes and tours of its farms. The company also operates a market in East Point where people can buy food each week (on Wednesdays) with cash, or pay for the season in advance and pick up food at their leisure.
The Sweet Auburn farm will have a market that runs the same way, most likely beginning in February or March, he said.
"If we get this place really filled up, we might be able to start having a market every day," Nuri said. Initially, the urban farm will be open to the public for produce purchase on Fridays.
Agricultural education has been a key component of Truly Living Well's philosophy of farm-to-table food, he said.
"Folks are beginning to understand they need to be connected to their food," Nuri said.
"Food is so important. It doesn't come from Kroger or Publix. It comes from the ground."