Free food – a concept practically unimaginable in today’s world. Unless you get Government support or when you think of prison. But the City Council of Atlanta has recently voted to convert unused land into a food forest! This piece of land is about 7 acres in area and will put Georgia’s initiative as the largest one of its kind in the US. As per Carla Smith, a Councilwoman, the project received approval on last Monday, when every council member voted on it unanimously.
The produce at the forest is going to be available without any charge. It includes vines, shrubs, and other edible trees. There will also be walking trails, community gardens, community gathering areas, and several other features.
The 7-acre property is owned by The Conservation Fund, an environmental agency. This property is to be bought by Atlanta City at a cost of $157,385.00. The land was possessed by the agency after a business venture failed there.
As per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the initiative has been long under development from November of 2016. The United States Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Program provided the city a grant of $86,150.00 that year.
The project will be overseen by the Dept. of Parks and Recreation of Atlanta City. The maintenance of the Food Forest will be overseen by Trees Atlanta. Trees Atlanta has been able to receive $121,500 and intends to employ 2 employees to work part-time which include a Community Workforce Educator and a Forest Ranger.
The goal of this project is to ensure that about 85% of the residents in the city can access fresh food within 1 and a half miles by 2021. The creation of green space, recreation, and parks are also an integral part of Atlanta City.
As per USDA in 2017, about 36% of residents in Atlanta lived in food deserts. Almost one-fourth of the residents in the city usually have to travel about half a mile just to get fresh food.
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Atlanta should be able to set a sustainable precedent that should be useful to all its residents so that new legislation can make way. All citizens should be able to buy fresh and eat fresh. Vacant land can be transformed into productive areas for the benefit of all the people. The Ordinance 19-0-1251 of Atlanta can serve as a precursor that might shape the way America looks at fresh food.
Let’s hope it becomes true.
IMAGE CREDIT: Aliaksandr Mazurkevich