There’s a growing movement in Atlanta to unite our communities through sustainable infrastructure around one of our most basic necessities: food. This local food movement is connecting farmers, markets and passionate individuals to provide fresh, quality produce to the communities where we live and work. At it’s core, the movement is about so much more than food. It’s about uncommon collaborations. It’s about being better stewards of the environment. It’s about making quality nutrition — and better health — accessible to everyone, regardless of neighborhood or economic status.
Atlanta's local food movement is full of innovators, who leverage partnerships (AKA connect with friends!) to build sustainable food culture in the area. Two of our 2016 Local Food Grantees show us how collaboration can repair a neighborhood through food in a genuine visual of Historic South Atlanta. We are now accepting applications for the 2017 Local Food Grant, learn more and apply by September 27.
Atlanta has benefited from metropolitan growth, boasting one of the country’s largest populations and serving as the urban hub for much of the Southeast. One of the unintended consequences of this positive growth is a decline in accessibility to quality, local food. Smaller neighborhood grocery stores and markets slowly disappeared from neighborhoods as supermarkets and large retailers stepped in to meet a growing city’s needs. In economically challenged communities, this meant a decline in accessibility to quality food, and in some cases to the stores themselves, not to mention access to actual local growers of fresh produce.
Food Well Alliance serves to transform our food infrastructure, communities and lives by connecting all of the individuals who are leading this movement. From farmers and markets to advocates and consumers, everyone has a role and a part to play. Carver Neighborhood Market is doing their part by serving the community in Historic South Atlanta. They work directly with local growers to source fresh produce and deliver it from the urban farm right to their customers.
There is a growing vision for how to reclaim the way we think about farming in today’s metropolitan environment, and like-minded individuals are innovating to make accessibility a reality for communities like South Atlanta. It might be hard to imagine rural and urban coming together so beautifully to create community around a unifying cause, but that’s just what the movement is aiming to achieve. Carver Market works with small producers who grow fresh food right down the street in this urban area. Their philosophy is that every dollar kept in the community, the better for everyone. Atlanta Harvest is one of these local producers. Their innovative farming techniques, using abandoned, unused property and a high-tunnel design, are both making use of this precious urban space and growing veggies right down the street from Carver’s customers.
Carver is one of the few local groceries to repopulate in this area after most of the smaller community stores slowly disappeared. “Initially I had to ride at least two buses to go grocery shopping, which was a drag. So now, all I have to do is walk two and a half blocks to the grocery store and carry my groceries back to the house or have it delivered, which is excellent,” says Sylvia Penson, a customer at Carver.”It’s nice to know that we are supporting the community from the ground up.”
Jeff Delp from Carver Neighborhood Market explains that to have local food readily accessible enables the community to define their own culture and it can be unifying for people from different walks of life. “South Atlanta hasn’t had any good food options for years, and so Carver Market moving in has provided a really good opportunity for folks to get fresh food, and it’s awesome that a neighborhood grocery store their size is really reaching out to try and partner with local farmers,” says Brent Hall of Freewheel Farm, an urban, organic farm also providing produce to Carver’s.
Not only is this buzz around urban production and community markets providing accessibility to fresh, local foods, but it also is enabling better health outcomes to a neighborhood that in previous years had little to no access to healthy foods. This alone can be extremely impactful to improving education for kids and the productivity of the workforce, which will ultimately create a thriving community. The growth and opportunity spurred by a market like Carver’s intentionally seeking out local farmers as well as providing quality food to this neighborhood is what makes Atlanta competitive.
The grower, the grocer and the customer no longer have to be strangers connected only by production and demand. They can come together to strengthen food infrastructure, to transform the urban environment and to change lives. You have a role in this too. Whether you have innovative ideas, are passionate about supporting the local economy, or just want to help improve the lives and health of your neighbors, you can make an impact. The transformation and growth of crops up through the sidewalks and skyscrapers of our city skylines is an amazing illustration of exactly what’s taking root in our city.
Food Well Alliance wants to connect you to the movement. Join us to love local, revitalize our city and improve the health of our community. Our vision is much bigger than any one part or person. We want to transform our future through food and we need you to do it! Join Atlanta’s Local Food Movement today.
Learn more about our other 2016 Local Food Grantees here. We are currently accepting applications for our 2017 Local Food Grant, apply by September 27.