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Atlanta Turns 7-Acre Vacant Lot Into Largest Free Food Forest In The Country

Atlanta just turned a former “food desert” into a “food forest” that will provide citizens with free, organic fruits, nuts, veggies, mushrooms and herbs.

Instead of developing it into townhouses, the City of Atlanta recently voted to transform a vacant, old, overgrown pecan farm into a food forest.

The 7-acre public park will feature fruit-producing trees, shrubs and vines along walking trails, a community vegetable garden and restored native forest and stream-side areas by 2020.

The vegetable garden has already been planted alongside preexisting walnut and pecan trees. More than 100 fruit trees have also been planted including figs, apples, plums and peaches.

The plans include a community composting facility, rainwater collection system, a medicinal mushroom walk,  and an apiary to house bees for pollination.

The city bought the land for around $150,000 the Conservation Fund, who’d bought it up to help keep it affordable and will be helping maintain the park in the future.

The plan is to replicate the food forest in several locations throughout Atlanta, where a third of the land is considered a “food desert” by the USDA and a quarter of the citizens live more than a half mile from fresh fruits and vegetables.

“The opportunity to replicate this is already coming up. The Parks Department is thinking about it,” said Stacy Funderburke, an acquistion associate the Conservation Fund.

“It’s great to fast-forward five years from now. 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.”

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