Urban Food Forest Headline

The City of Atlanta is getting ready to create what will be the largest public food forest in the USA to date. It will be on a 7-acre parcel of land that currently sits vacant.

Atlanta’s move is part of the city’s plan to “strengthen local food economy to ensure 85 percent of the city residents are within one-half mile of fresh food access by 2021.”

Many towns and cities have created food forests in parks, on vacant land, or along public right-of-way.

In my city, Daytona Beach, I can envision a food forest corridor extending along Martin Luther King Blvd (it could be incorporated into the upcoming landscape improvement plan for that street), and continuing along Mary McLeod Bethune Avenue.

Besides providing residents with access to fresh food, the plantings of fruit trees, vines, and vegetables would have several more benefits including:

– improve stormwater mitigation, flood control

– increase urban shade canopy

– reduce crime by creating an attractive amenity that draws people out of their houses to spend time in the public space

– increase property values, make our urban core more attractive to both residents and visitors

– products of the forest-garden would create potential income opportunities for local residents

– shady, walkable corridor would boost local businesses by increasing foot traffic

– “Trojan horse” for the movement to eliminate use of herbicides & pesticides in public spaces

Besides urban rights-of-way, another potential site for food forests is in golf-course residential developments where the golf course has become financially insolvent due to residents’ declining interest in golf (and declining willingness to pay the mandatory club membership fees). This is a growing issue nationwide. We could transform such golf courses into food forest/fitness parks with walking trails. Residents unwilling or unable to pay golf-course membership fees might be happy to pay the fee if it were buying them fresh produce and a walking trail.

Residential developments offering a food forest (or a community-focused farm) as an amenity are called “agri-hoods” and are becoming very popular. The presence of fresh food has been shown to significantly increase property values.

Where in your city or neighborhood would you like to put a food forest(s)?