Seven cities spanning metro Atlanta from the top of Fulton to the bottom of Clayton counties rallied this spring for funding to help boost their statuses as hubs of communal gardening and urban agriculture.
But East Point hit pay dirt in the end.
Continuing its recent civic winning streak, the (mostly) ITP city just southwest of downtown Atlanta has been selected to pilot the region’s first City Agriculture Plan, collaborating with Food Well Alliance and the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Earlier this year, the project’s leaders conducted studies of East Point and six other metro cities—Alpharetta, Clarkston, Hapeville, Lawrenceville, Lovejoy, and Pine Lake—and held forums attended by nearly 500 locals interested in urban agriculture.
Kim Karris, Food Well Alliance’s executive director, said metro Atlanta’s rapid growth threatens the viability of community gardens and farms around the city, but “East Point is uniquely poised to take bold steps and become a national model for urban agriculture,” per a statement announcing the win this week.
For East Point, a community engagement and mapping phase will begin in August, followed by a six-month planning process assisted by the ARC.
Food Well Alliance will then guide the plan’s implementation and provide at least $75,000 in hopes of bringing a greener, healthier future to fruition citywide, via gardens large and small.
The City Agriculture Plan aims to connect city officials directly with growers and community leaders “to determine the policies, ordinances, and programs that will move the needle most effectively,” per the initiative.
All seven cities studied will receive funding to help boost urban agriculture initiatives, official said.
Eventually, Food Well Alliance wants to establish City Agriculture Plans in all 54 cities in its five-county region (that’s Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett).
City of East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham stated that the partnership has potential to “transform our city” and “systemically address our food access challenges.”
The announcement continues momentum for what’s been a notable spring and summer for the southside city of 35,000.
A free Goodie Mob show that drew an estimate 15,000 to 20,000 people as part of a weekday municipal wind-down event last week marked the latest headline-grabbing news in East Point’s evolution as a more walkable, transit-friendly, regional draw.
In May, East Point debuted its City Hall, with an amphitheater and outdoor water feature.
A month earlier, officials had announced that the newest Station Soccer location—the third installation of the Soccer in the Streets program around Atlanta—is headed for the city’s historic Main Street.
Elsewhere near East Point’s core, plans are percolating to transform an abandoned car dealership into a brewery, cafe, and incubator.
The City Agriculture Plan’s Community Engagement phase will begin in East Point with a two-hour kickoff session, starting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22. All city stakeholders, leaders, and residents are encouraged to register and attend the event at ArtsXchange (2148 Newnan Street, East Point).