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Community growers and volunteers gather with Brother Holmes at Soul Spirit Farmers in East Point.

The city of East Point has been selected to be the pilot location for a plan bringing growers, community leaders, and city officials together to develop city-wide plans that prioritize urban agriculture.

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Atlanta Regional Commission and Food Well Alliance staff members discuss the plan with East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham.

Atlanta-based nonprofit Food Well Alliance, which is a collaborative network of local food leaders, is heading up the new program called the City Agricultural Plan. Guided by the planning expertise of the Atlanta Regional Commission, the goal is connect thriving community gardens and urban farms in order to provide greater access to locally grown food across the metro Atlanta Region. This translates to healthier people, environments, and communities, stated officials.

“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.”

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, according to officials.

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Community growers and volunteers gather with Brother Holmes at Soul Spirit Farmers in East Point.

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. Those cities are 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,” said Karris.

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.

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Atlanta Regional Commission and Food Well Alliance staff members congratulate City of East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham outside East Point City Hall. From left is Will Sellers, Food Well Alliance Deputy Director; Allison Duncan, Atlanta Regional Commission Principal Planner; Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham; Kim Karris, Food Well Alliance Executive Director; and Sarah Benedict, Food Well Alliance Operations Coordinator.

“We are truly humbled and honored by being selected to create and implement the first City Agriculture Plan in the region,” said 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, Director of the Department of Economic Development for 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.”

The Community Engagement phase of the City Agriculture Plan will begin with a kick-off session hosted by Food Well Alliance and the city of East Point at ArtsXchange located at 2148 Newnan St., in East Point on August 22, 2019, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the city’s award, share the results of the East Point Community Food Forum, and provide an overview of the upcoming community asset mapping process, stated officials. East Point residents, city stakeholders, community and municipal leaders are encouraged to attend. Learn more and register at www.foodwellalliance.org.

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