Sunday, September 5, 2010

Feeling Fine at Fresh Roots Farm

The mosquitos and fierce summer heat (2010 was the second hottest on record since records have been kept, according to this NOAA report) kept me indoors many a day. If I wasn't out kayaking this past summer, I was probably packing, reading back issues of Backpacker Magazine, or otherwise avoiding sitting down at a computer to write. Still, during the nicest day I've felt in months, my friends Mark and Elizabeth of Fresh Roots Farm in Atlanta, GA inspired me to hop on the keyboard share what they're up to.

I hadn't seen Mark since 2007 when we attended Greenpeace's "Change It" training for student activists, but I'd followed his endeavors (without the help of Twitter) through a tour with Greenpeace's Rolling Sunlight (selling crowds on solar power), building trails with AmeriCorps, serving Peace Corps in South America, and landing back in Atlanta -- and that's when things got really interesting!

Though you have to ask Mark for the full backstory, the end result is a sweet little urban farm sprouting natural and organic veggies and offering local, healthy choices right in the heart of Atlanta. I was lucky enough to visit this weekend and meet the lovely residential pig (Olivia), pup (Cocoa), two roosts full of chickens and hang with the farm fresh couple running the show.

The farm is basically a front yard for Mark, Elizabeth, and a couple of neighbors in their 19th-century, post-industrial warehouse turned loft abode. I was greeted by my gracious host circa 2 a.m. (traffic was thick as molasses in Tennessee and I forgot about the time difference from Texas, to boot). My eyes widened to fit the space as I stepped from the entryway into the living room with a ceiling so high it could have housed the moon. I was further delighted by the way the decor seemed to simply capture the important things in life: pinned up sketches, a large kitchen table, a bookshelf balanced with history and fiction, a drum set, a few tomatoes no doubt fresh from the vine. Bunking on the futon, I was sun-kissed in the morning (with two-thirds of the wall being window) and set off to see what the many-hat-wearing Mark was up to...

The community that houses Fresh Roots is also a collection of residences occupied by artists and their adjacent studios, a gallery, a community coffee house, and a flexible space for all sorts of other gatherings and endeavors. While I sipped on coffee and tea and talked to Mark, a man came in and inquired about using the site for a music video. Apparently, on any given day here one might walk through the set of a far-out indie sci-fi flick, clothing-optional photo shoot, film festival, medicine show musical, or beer and pancake party. In the midst of all the abstract, Fresh Roots Farm keeps the place down-to-earth in a funky but wholesome way.

To visit, volunteer, inquire about their CSA, or just hook up with some really cool, bright people, check out Fresh Root's website and Facebook page and blog (managed by the loveliest chicken wrangler this side of the Mississippi, Elizabeth Stephens).

(Pictured: Mark, Elizabeth and Cocoa)

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