The first week of camp at Truly Living Well got off to a soggy start. It poured on Monday and Tuesday, and campers spent a lot of time in the open-walled pavilion that also serves as the farm’s market stand.
But by Friday, the sun blazed and campers eagerly checked to see if seedlings sprouted in the pots they’d started. They’d spent the morning harvesting snap peas and green beans, and helped to prepare their own lunch—with the aid of a chef.
Picking the beans was fun but hard, said camper Cassius Alanva, seven (below). “We also put some cheese in grits. They were good.” The chef, he noted, called the grits something else. “A word that starts with a … P?”
“Polenta!” called out Kade Walton, eight.
There are four weeks of summer camp sessions, held at Truly Living Well’s Wheat Street Garden location in historic Old Fourth Ward. Campers spend mornings learning about urban farming, escape the heat (or rain) with arts and drama projects in the classrooms at Wheat Street Baptist church, and learn about healthy eating, agricultural entrepreneurism, sustainability, and other aspects of “what it means to truly live well,” says camp coordinator Amakiasu Ford. There’s a good deal of hands-on activity; campers said they especially enjoyed visiting the chickens, checking out the worm bin, and helping to bundle Greek oregano.
Now, after a week of activity, they relaxed on tree-stump stools under a giant shade tree and sampled honey from the farm’s hives.
“You know what’s special about bees?” said counselor Nicole Bluh. “The workers who make all the honey are female.” The kids licked their sticky fingers while she talked about the culture of the beehive. Then they ran off to get cups of water before going to check on their plant pots again.
This summer, scholarships for the camp (which runs $365 a week) were raised by TEDx Atlanta and other supporters, and designated for kids in the Village of Bedford Pines on Boulevard. About half the campers in the group were Boulevard residents.
Spending a week or two at the urban farm isn’t just a great summer experience for a kid, but a way to participate in “significant nonviolent social change,” said Truly Living Well founder and director K. Rashid Nuri as he watched the kids run up the garden paths and past towering rows of sunflowers. Transforming vacant city lots into farms is a “good food revolution,” he said.
>> Click here for a summer camp photo gallery