Closer Look, Local

Atlanta Is Creating The Nation’s Largest Community ‘Food Forest’

 An urban food forest in Southeast Atlanta will grow fresh fruits, vegetables herbs and nuts. The produce will be available for residents to pick and take home, free of charge.
An urban food forest in Southeast Atlanta will grow fresh fruits, vegetables herbs and nuts. The produce will be available for residents to pick and take home, free of charge.
Credit Candace Wheeler / WABE

More than seven acres of land in Southeast Atlanta will soon become the city’s first community “food forest,” where local residents will be able to access fresh produce, free of charge.

The forest, off Browns Mill Road, will be made up of fruit and nut-bearing trees, bushes, shrubs, and garden plots. This will provide fresh produce to an area of the city that is currently classified as food insecure.

Related: Closer Look: ATL’s Urban Food Forest; Nonprofit Star-C; Remembering The Refugee Act of 1980

“A food forest is kind of like a community garden. …” Smith said. “The people that live around here can come over and enhance dinner.”

It’s all part of an effort to ensure that 85 percent of Atlanta residents are within half a mile of fresh food by 2021, according to Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith, who has led the project.

Atlanta City Council recently unanimously agreed to purchase the land and transform the space, with the help of a grant from the United State Forest Service’s Community Food Service program.

However, the idea for the project has been in the works for a while.

Smith said, once complete, this will be the first public food forest in Georgia and the largest forest of its kind in the United States.

On a recent afternoon, the Closer Look team took a trip to Browns Mill Road to see the land and hear the community’s response to the project.

You can hear the full conversation with Douglas Hardeman, garden manager, and his grandson; Dave Horton, a volunteer; Celeste Lomax, a volunteer and neighborhood resident; District 1 Councilmember Carla Smith and Shannon Lee, urban conservation manager of the Conservation Fund above.