Metro Atlanta again leads the nation in support of local food options such as small farming and community garden programs, as well as education of residents about those options. On October 20, 2021 the Fulton County Board of Commissioners adopted and signed a Resolution that encourages the expansion of urban agriculture and small farms in Fulton County’s 15 municipalities. In addition, the Resolution reinforces the goals established in the County’s 2019 Sustainability and Resilience Plan.
Key provisions of the Resolution include technical assistance to small and urban farmers and landowners; reviews of land use and permitting requirements; and support for partnerships between the Department of Real Estate and Asset Management and a wide range of community facilities to establish and maintain small and urban farms.
We have been fighting for years to make sure that locally grown and organic food is part of the daily lives of our entire community. Small and urban farmers, community gardens and back yard gardeners grow the food, sell it, educate the community and support those in the new food movement. What we need next is legislation that supports our cause and takes the local food economy to the next level.
After years of negotiating with the local government, I joined a team of growers and community leaders who helped prepare for this giant leap in building an equitable, sensible and effective food system. With the passing of this Resolution and other local initiatives, Atlanta and Fulton County have renewed their role as models for how to establish and expand local food systems across the country.
The Board of Commissioners participated in a series of conversations, in which the BOC reflected on the input they regularly receive from their constituents. The process included extensive involvement with the Fulton County Citizens Commission on The Environment (FCCCE), comprised of members appointed by the Commissioners. In March of 2019, after nearly two years in the process, the Fulton County executive team and Board of Commissioners developed updated Mission and Vision Statements and the Strategic Priority Areas. FCCCE recommended the passage of the Resolution.
Healthy food within 5 miles of every resident:
In the October 20th Resolution, Fulton County commits to collaborating with the Citizens Commission on the Environment (FCCCE) and regional agencies to establish access to affordable, healthy food options within five miles of every resident. Adoption of the plan is proof of the power of the people to bring about change. Fulton County residents demanded “more organic food” choices and communities with “clean air and water,” two indicators of successfully addressing environmental and health concerns in our area.
As a result, the BOC officially adopted county-wide Strategic Priority Areas for small farms and urban agriculture. The primary goals are to:
- Promote and educate Fulton County residents on local farming programs and community gardening.
- Promote food sovereignty, food self-sufficiency, food security, and horticultural literacy for Fulton County residents through local partnerships and educational programs.
- Increase access to healthy, affordable food options for all county residents by expanding organic urban farming and food distribution.
- Bring healthy food options within five miles of every County resident.
- Contribute to an overall healthier urban environment.
- Fulton County will collaborate with the Citizens Commission on the Environment (FCCCE) and regional agencies to achieve the goal of affordable, healthy food options within five miles of every resident.
- Increase collaboration between the County Extension Office and local growers to promote and expand the local food economy.
- Support sales and marketing of locally grown organic foods at farmers markets and mini organic markets at major transit stops.
- Research, map and publish in print and online, the locations of healthy local food options and their proximity to residents.
What this means for residents:
- Greater access to healthy, organic, locally grown foods.
- Reduced barriers to establishing growing operations, supported by clear legislation regarding agricultural land use options.
- Fewer permitting requirements for agricultural land use.
- Increased opportunities for jobs and small businesses in the local food economy.
- Technical and infrastructure support for agricultural entrepreneurs.
- Increased opportunities to put your hands in the soil and create the beauty and peace of local farming and gardening oases.
- Greater connection with the land and natural cycles of the Earth.
We have been fighting for years to make sure that locally grown, and organic food is a part of the daily lives of our entire community. As a community, we grow the food, sell it, educate the community, and support those in the new food movement. What we need next is legislation that supports our cause and furthers its way to the next level. Fulton County, Georgia, has done just that. Now let us devise ways to hold the government accountable to the terms in the resolution.
Source: The Nuri Group