Food & Recipes

Atlanta Just Planted A Massive Edible Garden

This is so awesome!

On a 7-acre-farm near Atlanta’s city limits, there lies an unexpected urban oasis. Once an abandoned pecan farm, the land has now been transformed into a completely edible garden. In the Lakewood-Browns Mill community near where the garden is located, a third of the population lives below the poverty line. The area is considered a food desert, as residents have little access to fresh food.

In fact, more than half a million people living in the Atlanta area are living in what can be considered a food desert. To combat this problem, the city of Atlanta has declared a goal to get 85% of residents within a half-mile of fresh food by the year 2021. The community garden is one part of the strategy to reach that goal.

Here are some shots of the garden, posted to Twitter by @crazyplantgirl:

The garden is open to the public and consists of planter boxes in which members of the community can grow their own produce, such as tomatoes and squash. There is also a network of trails lined with more than 100 fruit and nut trees bearing figs, apples and plums.

The project is organized and funded by the city, local nonprofit organizations and the Conservation Fund. Volunteers have largely taken charge of tending to the garden.

Here are some volunteers installing irrigation in the raised garden area, in a photo posted to the garden’s Instagram account:

“[Anyone] can pick the berries and the fruit, but the garden is separate,” Douglas Hardeman, the community-garden manager, told City Lab. “That doesn’t mean it’s off-limits. All you need to do is ask.”

The grassroots project is meant to be more functional than beautiful.

“It’s not some perfectly designed landscape architecture plan,” Stacy Funderburke, conservation acquisition associate at the Conservation Fund, told Fast Company. “If you were to see the before and after photos, you’d say it’s incredible. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say aesthetics are the main driver of this project.”

While the garden is not expected to completely eradicate the food desert problem on its own, the hope is that it will make a sizable contribution. What’s more, supporters believe it will serve as a model that can be repeated throughout the metro area.

“The opportunity to replicate this is already coming up. The Parks Department is thinking about it,” Funderburke said. “It’s great to fast-forward five years from now. What if there were five of these food forests sprinkled around Atlanta? There could be. There’s enough land. It’s more about showing what’s possible.”