USDA Awards Atlanta Region’s First City Agriculture Plan

Updated on

Grant will boost urban agriculture plan for the City of East Point piloted by
Atlanta nonprofit Food Well Alliance in partnership with Atlanta Regional Commission

Know more about Russia than your friends:

Get our free ebook on how the Soviet Union became Putin's Russia.

Q3 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Atlanta's First City Agriculture Plan

Atlanta, GA, October 15, 2020 -- Atlanta nonprofit Food Well Alliance (FWA) announced it is one of 23 organizations across the nation – and the only organization in Georgia – receiving a brand-new grant awarded by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The new Regional Food System Partnerships grant program joins the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion grant programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. The $250,000 grant awarded to FWA will advance implementation of the Atlanta region’s first-ever City Agriculture Plan being piloted in the City of East Point and guided by FWA and city planning experts from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

Watch to see why everyone’s excited about the bold City Agriculture Plan unfolding in East Point!

City Agriculture Planning: Phase 1 Complete from Food Well Alliance on Vimeo.

In 2019, FWA and ARC embarked on a collaborative project to engage local governments in city urban agriculture planning. While ARC has been an expert regional planner for decades, the project marks the first dedicated program for urban agriculture planning into ARC’s planning initiatives. FWA and ARC selected the City of East Point to launch the plan with a goal of illustrating how cities can prioritize urban agriculture in metro Atlanta.

“We know City Agriculture Planning has the potential to be a game changer for urban agriculture in the Atlanta region,” said Food Well Alliance Interim Executive Director Kate Conner. “With this substantial USDA funding, we can take things to an entirely new level.” According to Conner, the grant will empower partners to meet key objectives, which include hiring a contract urban agriculture manager, forming a citizens’ urban agriculture commission, updating zoning and permitting processes, and creating incentives for growers such as property tax credits. Evaluation of the implementation process will also be an essential component of the project.

Addressing Food Access Challenges

In May 2020, the draft urban agriculture plan was presented to stakeholders. East Point City Council is expected to review and approve the final plan next month, at which point implementation can begin. “We are excited about the new heights that this grant will take us during our implementation of the first-ever City Agriculture Plan in the metro area,” said Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham. “This funding will help us form strategic partnerships to systemically and equitably address our food access challenges and, most importantly, enable us to continue to improve the health and quality of life of our residents.”

The community engagement phase, led by FWA, included a comprehensive process ensuring community strengths and local grower priorities were included. Following this phase, ARC completed a six-month planning process guided by a Steering Committee composed of a diverse set of community-selected and city-appointed delegates who represent a variety of entities from the local food system and City government.

By demonstrating success during the grant period, the partnership seeks to expand this work to 54 cities in FWA’s service area covering Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton counties. “East Point’s commitment to the East Point City Agriculture Plan will inspire others in the region and across the country to consider urban agriculture as fundamental to creating communities,” said Sam Shenbaga, Manager of Community Development at ARC. “I look forward to seeing how this important grant will help implement the strategies outlined in the Plan.”

Initial funding for the City Agriculture Plan pilot was made possible by the Zeist Foundation and the James M. Cox Foundation.

Food Well Alliance (FWA) is a collaborative network of local leaders working to build thriving community gardens and urban farms that enhance the health, vitality, and resilience of communities across metro Atlanta. The creation of Food Well Alliance was made possible through funding from our founding benefactor, the James M. Cox Foundation and through the vision of Jim Kennedy and Bill Bolling. Together, they saw an opportunity to connect members of Atlanta's local food movement to collectively build a healthier community. Food Well Alliance exists to bring this vision to life.

The City of East Point is approximately 13.8 miles with a population of over 35,000. East Point is conveniently located southwest of Atlanta minutes away from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This quaint urban community's prime location, numerous retailers, and greate restaurants make it an attractive place for a "live-work-play-shop-stay" environment because there's no point like East Point.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 73 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.