City of Atlanta Establishes Taskforce to Expand Urban Agriculture Citywide

ATLANTA – The City of Atlanta announced today that the Office of Sustainability has created a taskforce to research and investigate safety considerations and policies for future Controlled Environment Agriculture, a technology-based farming practice which takes place within enclosed structures. The effort will encourage the production of more local fruits and vegetables. The 21-member taskforce consists of members of the Atlanta City Council, the non-profit community, academia, environmental stakeholders and local farmers.

“Controlled Environment Agriculture is an emerging market in Atlanta and can provide locally-grown food to residents, reduce our reliance on imported foods, create green jobs and bolster the local economy,” said Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Creating this taskforce demonstrates our commitment to realize our Power to Change sustainability goal which will bring local, healthy food within a half-mile of 75 percent of all Atlanta residents by the year 2020.”

The taskforce will meet on a monthly basis and determine where Controlled Environment Agriculture is permitted in Atlanta, the safety best practices and policies incorporated by other cities and the economic impact of this form of agriculture, as well as identify potential environmental risks and ways to mitigate these risks. After the taskforceevaluates Controlled Environment Agriculture in Atlanta, a toolkit consisting of five focus areas analyzing safety considerations will be available to influence practices and policy.

“Controlled Environment Agriculture is quickly gaining momentum in the City of Atlanta and all across the country because of the growers’ ability to grow food in urban environments including parking lots, urban rooftops, and indoors,” said Mario Cambardella, Director of Urban Agriculture. “Local governments have an important role in investigating safety considerations and clarifying regulations for this form of agriculture. This taskforce allows the City of Atlanta to collectively work with stakeholders to realize the best policies and procedures to ensure the safety, health, and welfare is protected for all.”

Members of the taskforce include: 



Mario Cambardella, Director of Urban Agriculture for the City of Atlanta

Ryan Cox, CEO of Hatponics


Gregory Curtis, Agricultural Extension Officer for the University of Georgia’s Agricultural Extension Office

Alison Duncan, Principal Planner for the Atlanta Regional Commission

David Epstein, CEO of Bioponica

Jeff Foote, CEO of Green Spirit Farms of Georgia

Emma French, student at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Steven Van Ginkel, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Suzanne Girdner, Director of the Atlanta Local Food Alliance

Mindy Goldstein, Director of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University

Drew Grier, student at the University of Georgia

Ellen Macht, Project Manager for BetterLife Growers

Matthew Mundy, Water Quality Technician for the Environmental Protection Division

Wesley Myrick, Collaboration Program Manager for the Food Well Alliance

Ashley Rouse, Farm-to-School Coordinator of Atlanta Public Schools

Justine Schwartz, Project Manager for the Office of Sustainability for the City of Atlanta

Carla Smith, Atlanta City Councilmember, District 1

Bevan Suits, CEO of Aqua Planet

Stan Vangilder, Program Manager for the Southern Company’s Innovation Center

Tshaka Warren, Urban Planner of the Office of Planning for the City of Atlanta



For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter@Kasim Reed