Georgia’s First Food Forest Adds Greenery to Downtown Atlanta

Atlanta’s city council approved the transformation of just over seven (7) acres of land in downtown Atlanta into a public ‘food forest.’ The site was initially owned by Ruby and Willie Morgan who sold it to a property developer for developing townhouses.

The development went unfinished until the Conservation Fund acquired the parcel in 2016 and started making plans to turn it into the food forest we see today.

Something New from Something Old

According to The Hill, the city council stated in its ordinance that the food forest would offer walking trails as well as edible trees of all sorts and would be held open to the public. The initial proposal of the Browns Mill Food Forest was given to the city council in 2016, and after accepting an $86,150 grant coming from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Program, the food forest became a reality this year.

Atlanta Daily World notes that this food forest is the largest one in the entire country as well as Georgia’s first foray into this kind of public food initiative. While the park is open, it is far from complete, with city planners hoping to develop stream-side areas and a completely restored forest together with walking trails by 2020. Additionally, residents of the city can pick produce from the public park free of charge.

Food Forest, Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Central Atlanta Progress. (CC BY 2.0)
Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Central Atlanta Progress. CC BY 2.0

A Push to Fight Obesity

American City and County mentions that this particular initiative is in line with the current mayor of the city, Keisha Lance Bottom’s plan to ensure that 85% of residents of Atlanta are within half a mile of freshly grown produce by 2021. Offering residents the right to get fresh produce from the park provides a great alternative to processed foods and is part of the city’s fight with the obesity epidemic that has swept the country.

Furthermore, having access to fresh food will also help to combat health disorders related to nutrition by providing necessary food to those who are unable to obtain it. The city will also benefit from the cultural aspect of having such an ample green space amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city, reestablishing a connection with the land through the food it produces for residents.

If nothing else, the park provides opportunities for food photography, tips, for eating sustainably, and a wide selection of fruits freely available to the people of Atlanta.