April 18, 2019 may have seemed like a typical Thursday, but it was a huge day for Food Well Alliance and urban agriculture in Atlanta. In fact, if you happened to be at Whole Foods picking up groceries that day, you may have had the pleasure of meeting some of us on the Food Well Alliance team!
From the brand new flagship store in Midtown to Ponce de Leon, Decatur and Buckhead, we visited locations across metro Atlanta to greet as many Whole Foods customers as possible. Our goal? To let them know the difference they were making simply by doing their regular shopping on Community Giving Day when Whole Foods would be donating 5% of net sales from each of their 11 stores in metro Atlanta to Food Well Alliance to help more than 300 community gardens and farms thrive and grow.
With that kind of support, we anticipated significant results, but they surpassed our wildest expectations. When Food Well Alliance Executive Director Kim Karris went to the Midtown store to receive the donation, she was presented with a check for more than $45,000 by (l-r) Whole Foods South Region Vice President Marc Mastropaolo, President Bobby Turner, and Vice President Thea Ermalovich-Hayek.
Funds raised during Atlanta’s Community Giving Day will go a long way to support Food Well Alliance’s Resource Center for Urban Agriculture. The center provides community gardens and urban farms access to land, tools, volunteers, compost, technical assistance, business development, and infrastructure to help grow healthy, local food in urban and suburban communities across metro Atlanta.
The Giving Day donation came on top of $10,000 in seed funding from Whole Foods in conjunction with an opening celebration for the new Midtown store the first week in April. The seed funds are designated for the launch of Food Well Alliance’s first-ever shared Urban Agriculture Tool Bank in partnership with the Atlanta Community ToolBank and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience. Through the lending program with the new urban agriculture tool bank, growers will have access to tillers and other heavy equipment essential to their work, but often financially out of reach.
“This is big equipment that I only use seasonally, so this is going to be a great help,” said Lovely Gilliam, who spoke from the stage at the opening event and owns Gilliams Community Garden with her husband, Farmer P. “Continue to support your local farmers.”
Karris is thrilled for such impactful ways to partner with Whole Foods. “Their customers can feel great knowing that Whole Foods values our local growers. And just by shopping on Community Giving Day they took part in supporting community gardeners and urban farmers growing right here in our city. The funds raised will make a tremendous impact on the success of innovative initiatives happening across metro Atlanta, like the Aglanta Grows-A-Lot program -- where city dwellers are invited to adopt a vacant, city-owned property to start a new community garden or urban farm.”