Visit Urban Sprout Farms for More than Just Produce
Just a few miles southeast of downtown Atlanta, eco-entrepreneur Nuri Icgoren can be spotted tending to hoop houses, fresh herb and flower beds. It may surprise Atlantans to hear of a farm overlooking Interstate 75/85 in south Atlanta, but Nuri is dedicated to growing an urban agricultural hub that produces good food.
Nuri started growing plants in his backyard for personal use and for resale at yard sales in Grant Park. When he found a 5-acre property in the Polar Rock neighborhood of Lakewood Heights, he knew it was perfect for a nursery, small farm and event space. Urban Sprout Farms flipped the former motel property, farmed for Atlanta restaurants and now grows much of their high-quality, organic produce for Peachdish, a meal kit delivery company rooted in Southern cuisine.
Since 2012, the biodynamic, certified organic farm has produced 30 varieties of tomatoes, 15 varieties of peppers, and many more herbs and fruit trees.
Last spring, Urban Sprout Farms started a flower patch on the farm where people can pick their own flowers. Nuri scattered cascades of wildflower and sunflower seeds and planted bulbs of hyacinths, lilies and tulips in a 40-by-120-foot field. Now, every Saturday morning in the spring and summer, people are given scissors, a vase and free run of the field to create custom-made bouquets for as little as $10.
“People love to hang out with the butterflies and bees and pick whichever flowers they want,” Nuri says. “It’s more personal when you can cut it yourself and give it to your loved one.”
Also tiptoeing through tulips are elementary school tours that regularly visit Urban Sprout Farms.
“It’s amazing to have (schools) come out to an urban farm,” Nuri says. “I explain to them different plants and let them taste different things—just getting these kids outside and exposed to nature.”
He has educated young students on everything the earth offers, from the potatoes grown on the farm to identifying poison ivy.
The city farm cultivates creativity as well. Urban Sprout Farms hosted the 2014 Phoenix Festival during which 1,400 people swayed to local jam bands from Atlanta and photographed walls painted with colorful murals. Since then, the farm has accommodated art events and performance art. In 2016, nonprofit arts organization Deer Bear Wolf performed “Lost in Oz,” a literary play based on The Wizard of Oz, and painted a yellow brick road throughout the entire farm.
Urban Sprout Farms will soon build a high tunnel greenhouse as indoor space for more plays and parties. Nuri is currently constructing a 30-by-40-foot stage to welcome local musicians, bands and dancing for outdoor weddings. Off to the side, a large bonfire area draws crowds in the fall, as does a custom-built projection screen the size a double car garage door.
Nuri has future plans to grow Urban Sprout Farms into a tiny house eco-village. Always looking ahead, Nuri says a few tiny homes could complete a village and an additional kitchen on-site could become a farm-to-table cafe. The tiny homes could serve as Airbnbs, Atlanta’s first kind of horticultural hotel.