Eugene Cooke, Agroecologist and Urban Farmer
Name: Eugene Cooke
Occupation: Agroecologist and urban farmer
Place of Residence: Atlanta, Georgia
Background and Personal History: Eugene Cooke began working in the urban agriculture movement in Southern California. He was baptized in urban gardening with a full immersion mentorship with Adonijah Miyamura El in Los Angeles, developing Food Forestry at Crenshaw High school. This project transformed an abandoned 3⁄4-acre agriculture center into a subtropical food forest and learning oasis. The apprenticeship deepened Eugene’s awareness of the vital need to restore the soil and encourage tree and vegetable growth in urban areas.
Working on multiple public and private Food Forestry projects brought opportunities for entrepreneurship, nonprofit service and meeting motivated community members. Eugene met Rashid Nuri in Los Angeles, and after two years of planning, they both came to Atlanta in 2006 to begin Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture.
In winter of 2010, Eugene was separately contracted by TLW to design and build out the 4-acre TLW Wheat Street flagship site. Since then, Eugene has continued growing his skills by traveling nationally and internationally to learn from exemplary local food systems. Eugene has worked in Jamaica with One Love Learning Foundation, in Haiti with League of Hope. He traveled to Kenya twice to absorb the rich possibilities of small-scale, intensive local food systems. The agro-ecological principles of Pierre Rabhi have deeply influenced his work in urban and suburban areas.
In partnership with the organization m.a.m.a. earth, Eugene continues to travel and present the “Grow Where You Are” workshop series and book. After years of working as an independent contractor supporting urban agriculture organizations, Eugene established Grow Where You Are LLC, to create a structure for the collaborative efforts of local food heroes to yield tangible results. The main hub for Grow Where You Are is the Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Center in Southwest Atlanta where clean food is grown in a system that preserves the ecology and supports the people.
Current Projects: Grow Where You Are
Other Fun Facts: Eugene is a practicing visual artist. He has exhibited and sold his fine art paintings, drawings and art books for over twenty years and his sensibility for visual harmony and balance deeply informs his garden designs.
More Places to Find Eugene on the Web:
Find all of Eugen’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog posts here.
YouTube video: Origins Deep Dive Interviews 2014 – Eugene Cooke
Vimeo video: “Field Trip: Native Planting Mounds” by Georgia Organics
Vimeo video: “Field Trip: No Turn Row Composting” by Georgia Organics