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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Books on Forest Bathing and Community Gardens Support Quality of Life

Jun 30, 2019 02:00AM
by Candace Apple

Eighty-one percent of Americans live in urban areas, and many urban residents live in “food deserts” where there are no farmers markets or garden space.

The food revolutionary K. Rashid Nuri’s book Growing Out Loud tracks the evolution of his career and passion for bringing health and vitality to such communities through community gardens and urban agriculture. That quest has taken him around the world and back to Atlanta. His Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture has been an inspiration for a wealth of local community gardens and urban farms in Atlanta. For example, the Atlanta City Council just recently approved transforming 7.1 acres in Lakewood Heights into the Fulton County Food Forest, a public park where local residents will be able to pick their own produce. Growing Out Loud traces Nuri’s development of his philosophy about the importance of returning control of people’s choices for healthy nutritional food back to local economies. In 2017, 36 percent of Atlanta was designated a “food desert,” areas that are more than half a mile from access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom has set of goal of 85 percent of Atlanta to be within that half mile of fresh food.

Growing Out Loud is a fascinating look at one of the pioneers of this movement and an inspiration to potential food revolutionaries in their quest for healthy-food availability for all.

Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together by Sylvia Bernstein offers a detailed exploration of the philosophy and benefits of local agriculture along with details of how to grow both fish and vegetables in the same space; this is one system used at the Truly Living Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. Bernstein takes the reader through the history of aquaponics as it addresses agricultural and environmental challenges globally and locally. Should one’s imagination be captured by this concept, the book will be a guide to in planning the system; choosing materials; making decisions about water sources; growing mediums and microbes; and acquiring the fish and plants to stock an aquaponic garden.

Another hands-on guide to improving quality of life by renewing a connection to nature is Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M. Amos Clifford, the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Forest bathing isn’t necessarily just swimming in a forest stream or a river, although it could be. As described by Clifford, it is “immersing our senses in the special qualities of the fluid, oceanic ambiance of the woodlands.” He distinguishes forest bathing from hiking by the destination: “here,” not “there.” He says, “When the forest is allowed its place within you, it supports your body’s natural capacity for wellness and healing.” After discussing the history, philosophy and concept of forest bathing as a form of mindfulness meditation, Clifford provides numerous examples and exercises to do the practice. Conversation with a Tree takes the reader into an exchange of energy and wisdom with the essence of a tree. Reading “Invitations” creates a space of calmness. Stepping into the forest itself offers a holistic, healing environment in which to relax and connect with nature in a way that is often missed by those of us with busy urban lives.

Candace Apple is owner of Phoenix & Dragon Bookstore in Atlanta, which offers a broad selection of holistic and spiritual merchandise as well as classes, workshops, readings and more. Reach her at [email protected].

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