Urban Food Forest Browns Mill Community Garden in Peak
Credit: Courtesy of The Conservation Fund

What was once an abandoned pecan farm located just inside Atlanta's city limits was destined to become a new urban development. But, over time, those plans fell to the wayside. And rather than let the land idly sit by waiting for another developer to come along, the city did something better. They turned it into a working forest instead.

The city of Atlanta, the Conservation Fund, and several local nonprofits all came together to purchase the seven-acre property in 2016, Fast Company reported, all with two goals in mind: To feed and to inspire the city.

"It's not some perfectly designed landscape architecture plan," Stacy Funderburke, Conservation Acquisition Associate at the Conservation Fund, told Fast Company about the property located near the Lakewood-Browns Mill community. "If you were to see the before and after photos, you'd say it's incredible. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't say aesthetics are the main driver of this project."

After all the work, the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill is finally open and ready for the public to come, enjoy, plant, grow, and harvest something special.

Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill in Atlanta, GA
Credit: Courtesy of The Conservation Fund

According to AgLanta, the new food forest will produce a "wide variety of fresh, flavorful, and healthy nuts, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms, which will become available for public consumption." It additionally noted that the forest's location is ideal as it will also serve a community identified as a "food desert," meaning it was an area without access to fresh fruits or vegetables.


Sustenance Design and Stand Landscape Architecture

"With these types of projects, I don't think that we should pretend they'll feed everyone in a food desert," Funderburke added. "But given the size, seven acres, it's going to produce an impressive amount of food."

But, the forest still needs quite a bit of help from the locals. The organization explained that city officials and partners will soon begin asking community members to assist in brainstorming designs, as well as adding their input on what should be grown in the garden and its eventual output. Those interested in adding ideas can check out the garden's 12-month Community Vision Plan Process.

Planting Trees at the Urban Food Forest Browns Mill in Atlanta, GA
Credit: Courtesy of Trees Atlanta

Though this program is most certainly unique, other cities have been sources of inspiration. According to Sustainable America, there are currently about 70 public food forests around America. Curbed specifically called out Seattle's Beacon Food Forest and Asheville's George Washington Carver Edible Park as two food forests worthy of everyone's attention.
And this may not be the last food forest planted in Atlanta. According to Funderburke, a few more spaces have already popped up as potential planting ground.

"It's great to fast-forward five years from now," she said. "What if there were five of these food forests sprinkled around Atlanta? There could be. There's enough land. It's more about showing it's possible."