Facilitating Collaboration and Building Networks through Peer Learning Exchange

Over the past few weeks, we’ve traveled nearly 500 miles visiting 23 sites of our 2017 and 2018 grant recipients across Fulton, Dekalb, Clayton, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties. What a privilege to see the things they’ve accomplished - and to understand the challenges they still face.

This year, we added a new twist and invited grantees to join us at their peers’ sites. Summer is a busy season for growers, and it isn’t easy for them to break away from their work. So we were delighted when several grantees took us up on the offer to come and see what their peers are up to.

"It was important to our work at Food Well Alliance - and a good reminder to the growers - that there’s a network of people working in this space to help navigate similar challenges and obstacles,” said Bobby Farmer, Grants and Relationship Manager at Food Well Alliance.

He recalled some of the highlights. “Out in Gwinnett, we got to see an exchange of a lab environment meeting the real world when Keisha and Warren Cameron from High Hog Farm visited the program at Grayson High School, and the teachers from Grayson headed to High Hog to tour the family farm,” said Farmer. “And it was great to see Reggie from Grow with the Flow out at Phoenix Gardens and Fresh Harvest - and Alison and Cody from Fresh Harvest out at Truly Living Well and Freewheel Farms.

 Carol Hunter of Truly Living Well hosts a peer learning visit with Food Well Alliance and 2017 second-stage Local Food Grant recipients, Fresh Harvest.

Carol Hunter of Truly Living Well hosts a peer learning visit with Food Well Alliance and 2017 second-stage Local Food Grant recipients, Fresh Harvest.

Alison and Cody Burnett run Fresh Harvest Garden in Clarkston, a grantee from the 2017 cohort. Alison Burnett echoed Farmer’s sentiments.

“It was cool to see what other people are doing around metro Atlanta and how everyone is working hard pushing forward,” said Burnett. “Truly Living Well is doing a great job engaging their local community in events, field trips and camps. That’s a big mission of our farm - to engage and include the local refugee community - whether that’s growing produce for them or hosting events or creating jobs. And we’ve been meaning to go to Freewheel for a long time. We don’t own the land we farm and neither does Brent. It’s encouraging to know we aren’t the only ones dealing with how you invest in something you don’t own and how to navigate the balance in that.

When she thinks about the peer visits, Burnett said two words come to mind. “We were encouraged and inspired. It helped us to want to finish strong, to take that extra breath of fresh air and keep going.”

Over $525,000 was awarded to 23 local food leaders through the 2017- 2018 Local Food Grants.
Their work has impacted over 60 unique communities across metro Atlanta.

2018 Local Food Grant Recipients

Aluma Farm
Compost expansion, fruit tree planting, and community food access along the Westside Beltline Trail

The Come Up Project
Social enterprise that trains recently incarcerated unemployed youth in value-added processing and marketing to sell “Sweet Sol” hot sauce sourced from local farmers in the West End

East Point Farmers Market
Working with the City of East Point to create a permanent location for the expanding market that serves primarily local low-income seniors and families

Ecosystem Farm
Wash station upgrade to expand sustainable local food production for growing CSA in East Atlanta

High Hog Farm
Small, family run sustainable animal and food production farm in Grayson, expanding to first farmers market in Gwinnett County

Hungry Heart Farm
Portable cold storage and compost upgrade for certified organic production farm and direct market CSA expansion in Clayton County

Organix Matters For All
Social enterprise focused on Southwest Atlanta farmer representation and consumer expansion at the West End Farmers Market

Concrete Jungle
Interactive cooking and culinary preparation education of urban-foraged produce donated to local homeless shelters in Fulton County

Grayson High School
Integrated Georgia standardized science elective in greenhouse production and on-site farmers market for Gwinnett CoOp families

Little Ones Learning Center
Pre-K garden-based education, local farm-fresh food preparation and outdoor learning with children and their parents in Clayton County

Miller City Farm
Farm-to-Classroom education program at Renaissance Middle School and on-farm CSA expansion in Fairburn, South Fulton County

Open Hand Atlanta
Farm-to-plate integration into Cooking Matters nutrition education program connecting low-income communities to local farmers and locally-grown food.

The Paideia School
Urban agriculture expansion project with greenhouse classroom curriculum for Pre-K - 12 students to produce more sustainable food for nearby low-income communities.

2017 Local Food Renewal Grant Recipients

Freewheel Farm 
Increasing production and fertility on backyard farm sites to provide more local food to residents in South Atlanta

Fresh Harvest, Inc
Refugee-led farm development to source local food for organic produce delivery enterprise in Clarkston

Georgia Organics
Health insurance program to help low-income urban farmers reduce medical costs and in turn, increase their farm’s economic viability in metro Atlanta

Grow with the Flow LLC 
Expanding grower infrastructure for converting homeowner front lawn space into market gardens in Tucker

The Good Samaritan Health Center 
Integrated “food prescription” nutritional program with local produce sourced from on-site farm for patients at health clinic in Northwest Atlanta

Historic Westside Gardens ATL, Inc 
Networked backyard gardening with families in Vine City and English Avenue in Southwest Atlanta

Nexus Foods
Permaculture farm development for on-site apprentice program for new and beginning farmers in Lawrenceville

Providence Missionary Baptist Church
Neighborhood revitalization through urban farm expansion in Cascade Heights

Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture
Greenhouse installation for increased local food production and education in Collegetown, Southwest Atlanta

Wylde Center 
Resident farmer fellowship to increase local food production for nutritional programming with residents at the Decatur Housing Authority