The Food Well Alliance has officially kicked off the planning process for the first ever City Agricultural Plan in East Point. The plan aims to protect and expand urban farming and gardens as well as put community ideas into action as rapid development continues in the metro-Atlanta area.
At a recent kick-off event, members of Food Well Alliance, East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham and additional city staff greeted more than 100 attendees and discussed the city’s food assets as well as mapped out places in need of gardens and access to produce.
“I was blown away by the initial response, interest and enthusiasm in East Point,” said Kim Karris, Food Well Alliance’s Executive Director. “The kick-off event was high-energy and there was a lot of excitement. Some of the people who attended realized for the first time where food assets are in their ward and others had suggestions and ideas about where would be ideal locations for gardens, farms and more.”
East Point was chosen as a pilot city for the agricultural plan in part because of its growth and the many urban agricultural resources that already exist in the city, said Karris. “East Point is unique in that quite a few local food organizations exist here. The city has a farmers market, numerous urban farms, Compost Now is headquartered in East Point and the Atlanta Community Food Bank is moving to East Point,” she said.
“The city is also facing a critical moment of development. The fear of gentrification is really high and part of the question is how do we make this community equitable when it comes to food?”
Six other metro-Atlanta cities (Alpharetta, Clarkston, Hapeville, Lawrenceville, Lovejoy, and Pine Lake) rallied to pilot the program and will receive funding support to catalyze their own urban agriculture initiatives.
More focus groups are planned each week throughout September. In October, Food Well Alliance will host the first urban agriculture bus tour where East Point residents and community members can get an up-close look at some of the urban farms and community gardens that already exist.
As the planning moves forward, Food Well Alliance will work with the Atlanta Regional Commission. As Karris put it,
“We know the Atlanta Regional Commission plans for transportation, housing and infrastructure, so why not plan for food? This is the first time they’ll be helping a city think about food, urban agricultural and the role it will play in the future.”
Community engagement and asset mapping will continue to be 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.
For more information and to view dates, times and locations for upcoming focus groups and bus tours, visit www.foodwellalliance.org/east-point.