The City Council of Atlanta, Georgia has unanimously approved the creation of the first food forest in the state. 7.1 acres (~29,000 sq. meters) of a currently vacant property will be transformed into a public area featuring trees, shrubs, and vines that produce nuts, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms which will be freely available for public consumption – along with walking trails, a community garden, and restored forest and stream-side areas by 2020.
The planned food forest is part of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ plan to ensure 85% of Atlanta residents are within one-half mile of accessible fresh food by 2021. In 2017, The U.S. Department of Agriculture classified 36% of the city as a food desert, also stating that over a quarter of Atlanta residents must travel more than a half-mile to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
The U.S. Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Program has contributed a total of $164,000 to the project. It is additionally support from the non-profit groups Trees Atlanta – which is already conducting educational programs at the site and has contributed $121,500 to hire part-time staff – and The Conservation Fund. The city will purchase the property from The Conservation Fund for $157,384 and the property will be managed by the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
“The Browns Mill Urban Food Forest will not only provide a food source but help foster a connection to cultural and social history through planting and harvesting for years to come,” said District 1 councilwoman Carla Smith, sponsor of the bill.
The bill can be read here.