Today we’d like to introduce you to Christa Leonard.
Christa, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
After almost a decade in the therapy world, I decided that I was burned out and needed a change. I had been given so many opportunities to travel and live abroad as well as help many families and children on the Autism Spectrum, but at 26 I moved on to rediscover who I was at that point in my life. I moved back to Florida, got rid everything I had and reflected by the ocean and slung coffee at Starbucks for about six months before connecting with a volunteer group in St. Petersburg, FL.
On my 27th birthday, I went to volunteer on a farm for the day, and I was hooked. The dirt, the people, the freshness of the food, sun, and the life that happens on a farm was intoxicating, and I started going there to volunteer as much as I could. A few months later, a farmhand position opened, and my farm career began.
For the last seven years, I have devoted myself to building a community around food and farming. About eight months ago, I was offered a position in Atlanta to be the Community Farm Manager of Greenleaf Community Farms. I have been working all over Atlanta to build a community around food in the multi-family residential arena.
I am also a single mother devoted to my little 2.5-year-old farm kiddo, Huck. He is alongside me in all these adventures and even helps with his little hands on the farm. We have been blessed with being able to connect with the community and the residents that live at the Greenleaf properties and work within the food systems in ATL.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My art is my ability to grow a community around food. Food is love, food is what we have in common, and food brings out the best in people. Each farm has its own personality and fosters its own unique qualities based upon its demographics. By cultivating land, you are cultivating connection, not only to the Earth but to the people the farm serves. I have never really sat and thought of myself or being a farmer as being an artist, but now that I think of it maybe we are. Farming is constant growing (literally) and constant creation. Farmers persevere and work hard to present their creations, food, to the world. When you look at a piece of artwork, it invokes a feeling within, and for me when I walk on to a farm, it does the same. It is an ever-changing piece of art. Sometimes beautiful, invoking feelings of awe and wonder, and sometimes painful, invoking feelings of failure or stress. But what I know always is that for me my pieces of art, my farms, are giving something beautiful to the world.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
Atlanta has a really unique relationship with all types of artists. The city and community organizations work to provide spaces for creation and for that I am very appreciative. If you paint or dance or photograph or farm, there is a space for you here, and there is support. This was the main reason I searched for about three years for the perfect job in Atlanta. A place where I could be a farmer and as you are changing my mindset, an artist and support myself and my family. In the world of creative people must honor and support the time, effort and brainpower that goes into each person’s medium. I find that the people of Atlanta really honor and know that to be true.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Our farms are located in East Atlanta, and our newest project will be located on the Westside. I like to think of it more as how not others can support us, but more how we can support the community? Our goal is to bring fresh food and education to our residents at no cost. When you live at one of our properties, we do everything under the vision of creating Farm to Resident. How can we improve lives? How can we provide easy access? We work to hone in and build these systems to be better. The community can follow our work through Instagram and Facebook, as well as our monthly community farm classes and events.
- Address: 1494 Memorial Dr Se
Atlanta, GA 30317
- Website: www.greenleafcommunityfarms.org
- Phone: 404-824-8737
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenleafcommunityfarms/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenleafCommunityFarms