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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Georgia Organics Honors Local Farming Leaders

Georgia Organics, an Atlanta-based nonprofit devoted to promoting sustainable foods and local farms in Georgia, recently recognized the work of Rashid Nuri, founder and CEO of Truly Living Well, and Tony and Linda Scharko, of Scharko Farms.

Nuri received this year’s Land Steward Award, awarded to those that have made a significant contribution to the organic movement in Georgia. The Scharkos were chosen for the Barbara Petit Pollinator Award for outstanding community leadership.

All three were honored at the annual Georgia Organics Conference and Expo and Farmers Feast in Atlanta in February to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary. Four new graduates of the Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program, an initiative of Georgia Organics and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, were recognized: Julie Best, of Clayton; Azalea Moss; of Austell; Lonnie Edenfield, of Toccoa; and Martine Olsen, of Clarkesville.

In addition to growing and selling produce in urban settings, Truly Living Well provides farmer training through a number of programs targeted at Atlanta’s urban population. A Harvard graduate and a former deputy administrator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton, Nuri is widely recognized as a leader in the urban agriculture movement, known for his efforts in education and outreach. Georgia Organics board member Robert Currey noted, “It would be difficult—and time consuming at the very least—to rattle off the very long list of Rashid’s successes.”

The Scharkos were accompanied onto the Farmers Feast stage by a procession of growers that have benefited from the couple’s practice of helping young farmers.

“Tending to, caring for and cultivating Atlanta’s next crop of growers, that’s what the Scharkos do,” said Isia Cooper, at Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet. Among the Scharkos’ ongoing activities are mentoring, volunteering, lending equipment and sharing land.

Also during the Farmers Feast program, Georgia Organics board chair Ellen Macht praised the organization for surpassing their goal of growing the number of organic farms in the state to 100. That goal was created in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the winter of 2014 when the number of farms was 75, and their target date to meet the goal was the end of 2016. However, the partners surpassed the goal by spring of 2016, and within 16 months the number of Georgia organic farms was 103. Their next goal is to double the number again to 200 farms by 2020.

Macht noted that Georgia Organics, in partnership with 53 Georgia school districts, helped facilitate serving 39 million locally grown school meals during the 2015-16 school year.

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