Atlanta suburb working with organizations, government to build up urban agriculture

The City of East Point has been selected to pilot a new City Agriculture Plan in partnership with the Atlanta Regional Commission.

City of East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham signs the City Agriculture Plan MOU with Allison Duncan, Atlanta Regional Commission Principal Planner (left) and Food Well Alliance’s Kim Karris, Executive Director; Will Sellers, Deputy Director and Sarah Benedict, Operations Coordinator.
Photo © Caleb Jones

Atlanta, GA — Atlanta nonprofit Food Well Alliance is a collaborative network of local food leaders heading up a new program it believes will be a game-changer for urban agriculture in cities across metro Atlanta. According to a press release, the City Agriculture Plan will do exactly what its name says: bring growers, community leaders, and city officials together — guided by the planning expertise of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) — to develop city-wide plans that prioritize urban agriculture. The end goal? Thriving community gardens and urban farms providing greater access to locally grown food across the metro Atlanta region, which translates to healthier people, environments, and communities. 

After a thorough exploration process with seven metro cities earlier this year, Food Well Alliance has announced the City of East Point has been selected to pilot the new City Agriculture Plan. The plan will begin with a community engagement and asset-mapping phase led by Food Well Alliance, followed by a six-month planning process undertaken with support from ARC. Once the plan is developed, Food Well Alliance will guide the implementation of the plan and provide a minimum of $75,000 in funding to help the community bring it to life. 

“We are thrilled the City of East Point will be joining us in this exciting new endeavor,” said Food Well Alliance Executive Director Kim Karris. “We believe that East Point is uniquely poised to take bold steps and become a national model for urban agriculture. The work begins today, and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Metro Atlanta is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and our cities are rapidly becoming more developed. This threatens the long-term viability of community gardens and farms. The City Agriculture Plan paves a way for city officials to work directly with growers and community leaders to determine the policies, ordinances, and programs that will move the needle most effectively.”

As the City Agriculture Planning process gets underway in East Point, six other metro Atlanta cities that rallied to pilot the program will receive funding support to catalyze their own urban agriculture initiatives: Alpharetta, Clarkston, Hapeville, Lawrenceville, Lovejoy, and Pine Lake. “The level of enthusiasm demonstrated in all seven cities shows us that we are onto something - that people want community spaces to reconnect to where their food comes from - so we are going to keep building on the momentum,” Karris said.

Nearly 500 people attended Community Food Forums held in the seven cities this February and March to learn more about City Agriculture Planning and share their ideas. Over time, Food Well Alliance aims to help develop City Agriculture Plans in all 54 cities in its five-county region serving Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. 

Funding for the City Agriculture Plan pilot has been made possible by The Zeist Foundation and Food Well Alliance founding benefactor, the James M. Cox Foundation. 

“We are truly humbled and honored by being selected to create and implement the first City Agriculture Plan in the region,” said City of East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham. “This amazing partnership with Food Well Alliance and the Atlanta Regional Commission will be impactful and transform our City. The intense focus on community engagement and leadership throughout our City Agriculture Planning process will help ensure sustainability of the projects implemented to systemically address our food access challenges.”   

“The City of East Point is extremely excited about its partnership with Food Well Alliance,” said Maceo Rogers, CEcD, director, Department of Economic Development for the City of East Point.

“It marks the beginning of a new collaboration between the City, residents, businesses and metro area organizations all uniting together to take a holistic approach to transforming the overall health of the community through access to local food production, community gardens, and farms.”

“Local agriculture is a key part of developing healthy communities,” said Sam Shenbaga, manager of ARC’s Community Development Group. “ARC is proud to support community agriculture and put our resources behind initiatives that improve our region starting at the local level."
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