Choosing to Grow: A Community Charts its Food Future

AM-FFN Program Director Kwabena Nkromo

Atlanta Metro Food & Farm Network (AM-FFN) and Village Habitat Design (VHD) facilitated a one day charette on the application of an urban agriculture and local food component for the Choice Neighborhoods Atlanta Neighborhood Transformation Plan. The event was sponsored by the Atlanta Housing Authority and Integral Development LLC as part of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded planning grant awarded to transform neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity for residents. This charette was conducted on August 18, 2012 at the campus of a local public charter school, Atlanta Preparatory Academy in Vine City. The intent of the meeting was to conduct a community visioning session focused on the urban agricultural potential for the Choice Neighborhood Atlanta planning area including the three overarching neighborhoods of Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, and Vine City.

Greg Ramsey of Village Habitat Design

The Choice Neighborhoods Atlanta (CNA) partners learned early on in their outreach process that a number of stakeholders would like to promote urban agriculture and local food systems development (including urban reforestation, orchards and vineyards, farms, gardens , edible landscaping and healthy soils and water)  as a core and foundation  of community holistic health and quality of life, sustainable development of local economy, life skills and educational values, celebration of history and cultural identity, as well as recreation and general revitalization for the Choice neighborhoods. The Atlanta Housing Authority has asked AM-FFN to assess the current and potential range of urban agriculture activity within the CNA geographic footprint, based on input from residents and stakeholders as well as empirical observation. The CNA Community Food System Assessment project will provide critical baseline data for the Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan.

The event also featured a local food lunch prepared by The Intimate Chef of Atlanta with ingredients from area local food producers like Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms and urban forest fruits donated by Concrete Jungle , as well as maps created especially for the charette by CNA consultants Urban Collage.

Customized maps of Choice Neighborhoods Atlanta communities & their urban agriculture/local food opportunities, prepared by Urban Collage.

Trish O’Connell, Atlanta Housing Authority’s V.P. of Real Estate Development & Acquisitions, opening the morning session.

PowerPoint presentation “Choosing to Scale Up: Claiming the Opportunities of Local Food Systems in the Communities of Choice Neighborhoods Atlanta”

Stakeholder Dr. C. T. Vivian of a boys mentoring program at Atlanta Preparatory Academy filling out a survey with AM-FFN staffer Colette Joly.

Resident and stakeholder J.R. Murphy of Vine City’s Historic Westside Gardens makes a point about the community’s local food vision.

Critical stakeholder involvement from Christi Jackson, Chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit K (NPU-K).

Input being given to Greg Ramsey by resident Shaheed DuBois of the Vine City neighborhood.

Attendees digging in to a local food meal and a blessing from Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian.

Good food served at the charette, prepared with ingredients from community urban farms and gardens in the area by the Intimate Chef of Atlanta.

Bread and a “Community Salad”, made with ingredients from Truly Living Well Natural Urban Farms.

Our children are the best reason for choosing a better food future.

2 thoughts on “Choosing to Grow: A Community Charts its Food Future

    • Hey Hannah,

      We do have work days coming up for a community garden in Pittsburgh this month and then my son’s school garden in October. I’d like to offer you the opportunity to work with AM-FFN’s Public Policy Team and sent you an email to discuss it further. – Kwabena

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