Eat your vegetables: Atlanta joins effort to grow food for those underserved

Atlanta is joining the ranks of New York City and Sacramento, Ca. in promoting urban agriculture, a fast-growing trend that promotes the growing of plant food in and near the urban core of a metropolitan area.

New York food farm

New York City has designated about a dozen city agencies to oversee its urban agriculture program.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Sept. 2 that he has created and posted the position of “Urban Agriculture Director.” The position will be based in the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, now headed by Stephanie Stuckey Benfield.

The term “urban agriculture” has various definitions across various cities. The consensus for the desired outcome seems to be that urban agriculture promotes access to fruits and vegetables, mainly for folks who now have to travel long distances to access such foods.

In Atlanta, the notion is for the new position to promote new policies regarding farming in the city, and the conversion of brownfields into urban gardens.

In addition, the statement says:

Bill Bolling, the founding director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, said:

The statement does not elaborate on how brownfields are to be converted into gardens, or if food will be grown in the brownfield gardens.

Brownfields are defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Division as: “[R]eal property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

The new position Reed has created advances a policy his administration promoted in 2014. The Atlanta City Council approved June 2, 2014 an amendment to Atlanta’s zoning ordinance that allows urban gardens and market gardens to operate in residential zoning districts, according to a statement released by Reed’s office:

This is how one advocate for the zoning change, Atlanta Local Food Initiative, described the reason for the amendment:

This is how the urban agriculture movement has unfolded in two other cites:

New York City