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New Position Could Boost Atlanta's Access to Healthy Food

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Green thumbs and farm-to-table advocates rejoice: Atlanta has hired its first Director of Urban Agriculture! Mayor Kasim Reed announced the creation of the position back in September, and the slot was officially filled by Mario Cambardella over the weekend. The position's expressed mission is to expand access to healthy food for all residents of Atlanta.

The Power to Change initiative launched in 2013 with the goal of bringing healthy food within a half mile of 70 percent of homes. Furthering that goal — and eliminating Atlanta food deserts, through advocacy, community outreach and policy development — will be one of the new urban agriculture director's key objectives.

Cambardella will also be working to convert the city's brownfields into urban gardens, in part, by improving growers' access to public and private land, and assisting in facilitating the permitting process, obtaining necessary zoning permits, and managing code compliance. The city has already gained notoriety for its conversion of brownfields as a result of the Beltline project. This year it won a prestigious Phoenix Award, and last year the project received the prestigious Prix d'Excellence Award for Best Environmental Rehabilitation Project.

Cambardella currently serves as co-founder and CEO of Urban Agriculture, a firm that provides planning, design and construction management of food-producing landscapes. He holds dual Masters Degrees in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning and Design, and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, from the University of Georgia. He'll start his new job Dec. 3.

· City of Atlanta to Hire First Urban Agriculture Director[City of Atlanta]
· City of Atlanta Expands Sustainability Efforts with Launch of Power to Change Ambassador Program [City of Atlanta]
· Beltline, O4W Park Bag Important Hardware Once Again [Curbed]
· 10 Parks, Secret Gardens and Green Spaces in Atlanta [Curbed]
· Atlanta adding urban agriculture director[Atlanta Business Chronicle]