Atlanta Fights Food Deserts With The Nation’s Largest Public Food Forest
The City of Atlanta has made considerable strides in eliminating food deserts within its city limits.
To provide healthy food for all Atlantans, city council members passed legislation which will offer residents a 7-acre food forest. The food forest will be located in unused woodlands near the Lakewood Heights section of Atlanta. In 2018, the neighborhood was considered to be one of Atlanta’s worst places to live, ranking four on the list of the ten worst cities to live in Atlanta.
A food desert is an area, typically low-income urban locations, where residents have limited or no access to healthy, affordable food. A food forest is an area where healthy food like vegetables, fruit, and nuts grow to be used as sustenance for people in the area. There are about 70 public food forests in America as of 2018.
The food forest brings hope that 85 percent of the southern city’s residents will be within a half-mile of accessing fresh food — an undertaking of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The land would also serve as a public park teeming with various food sources as well as hiking trails, communal spaces, a gardening area, and freshwater habitats. Park maintenance will be provided by Trees Atlanta, a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and protection of Atlanta’s ecosystem, but will fall under the domain of the city’s parks and recreation department.
Crops harvested will be free of charge to residents. Having access to healthy, nutritious food is long overdue.
“Instead of talking about a food desert, the better term is really ‘food swamp,'” Kwabena Nkromo, Founder and Lead Principal of Atlanta Food & Farm LLC, told The Guardian. “There is an abundance of food, but it’s not healthy or varied.”
Roughly 23 million Americans live in food deserts across the country. It has been proven that over time, not eating fresh foods can lead to serious health issues and diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.