Atlanta has a large expanse of land, over seven acres, in fact, that wasn’t being used. However, that’s all about to change now as Atlanta’s City Council has just voted in favor of changing all this vacant space into the state of Georgia’s first food forest. After a unanimous vote last Monday, the plans are set to go ahead and this could potentially be the country’s largest free food forest.
No Charge For Food
As stated, this will be a free food forest. The project, which has been dubbed The Urban Food forest, will be available to everyone, completely free of charge. This amazing forest will have lots to offer, including edible trees, shrubs, and vines in addition to more traditional community garden beds. It’s not all about food, either. There’s plenty of walking trails, public gathering spaces, and other features too. Effectively, it’s like going into a park and simply eating food from bushes, except this is much much larger than just any old park.
Currently being owned by the environmental agency, The Conservation Fund, the unused land will be sold on to the city of Atlanta for $157,384, which is a very precise figure. The agency came into possession of the land after it was abandoned due to a failed business venture. To save it going to waste, or becoming more industrial, properties, the agency has held on to it and left it as it was.
It has actually been rumored that the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill has been in the works for some time now. Since November 2016, in fact, when the city accepted an $86,150 grant from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space program. There’s still plenty more funding where they came from though. Trees Atlanta has secured $121,500.00 in funding and plans to employ two part-time workers including a Forest Ranger and a Community Workforce Educator.
Importance of Food
The city’s Department of Parks and Recreation will be overseeing the entire property and trees in the Urban Food Forest. Keeping in line with Atlanta’s goals to strengthen the local food economy, to ensure 85 percent of the city residents are within one-half mile of fresh food access by 2021, the Urban Food forest will offer plenty of food from trees, bushes, and shrubs, which are all completely free to anyone who wants to visit.
This food forest may become an integral part of the city as, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 36% of Atlanta was classified a food desert in 2017 and a quarter of the city’s residents must travel more than half a mile just to purchase some fresh produce, which simply isn’t right. This food forest will hopefully change all that and Atlanta will potentially become the first of many different cities which push for legislation that focuses on the wellbeing of their residents and transitions vacant lands into productive spaces that benefit the people, rather than large organizations, as it all too often does.