Support Urban Agriculture!

On Monday, June 2, the Atlanta City Council will vote to decide if our city is going to be a place that supports, encourages and empowers residents to be active participants in our local food system.

Current City of Atlanta zoning laws are outdated and do not allow for urban agriculture projects such as community gardens and farms to thrive, making it difficult for many communities to invest confidently in local food production.  By passing Ordinance Z-14-05 the city council will make urban agriculture a permitted land use within the city and create a clear path for the development of sustainable, innovative efforts to improve access to healthy local food options.

The Atlanta Community Food Bank strongly supports passage of the ordinance and here are a few reasons why.

ACFB’s Community Gardens project currently offers assistance to more than 100 new and existing gardens across metro Atlanta.  These gardens supply fresh, low cost, nutritious food to the families and individuals that tend them, and in doing so, provide a vital supplement to food resources that are often already stretched thin.  This ordinance will put them on a sure legal footing that will allow them to continue and grow with confidence.  More farms and gardens means more people have more access to more food.

Food is not the only thing that grows in these gardens, perhaps even more importantly, community grows in and around these raised beds and tilled ground.  The networks of friendship and support that sprout up around growing food together provide a safety net of relationships that can be as important as the food itself.  If a senior who participates in one of our community gardens doesn’t show up to weed and water for a few days, one of her fellow gardeners knows to knock on her door.  When people connect around things that they care about, they are no longer alone and isolated.  More farms and gardens means more people taking care of each other.

Lastly, a robust local food system gives our city an important tool needed for the creation of an equitable food system.  All Atlantans have both a desire and a right to eat well, to feed our children food that helps them thrive, and to celebrate the pleasures of a meal well made.  Our ability to do so should not be determined by our zip code.  This ordinance will make it easier for the seeds of an equitable food system to sprout across our entire city, especially in those places where that growth has been slow.  More farms and gardens means more Atlantans taking ownership of their food future.

We’d love your help to let our councilmembers know that we support this ordinance. The Atlanta Local Food Initiative has given us the tools to make our voices heard. You can:

  • Email your city council representatives (remember there are at-large members in addition to your district representative) and express your support for the Urban Agriculture Ordinance.

    • Click here for sample letter language and contact info for city council representatives.

    • Emails need to be sent by Monday morning.

  • The public is also invited to attend the city council meeting on Monday, June 2nd beginning at 1:00pm.

    • If you would like to make public comments in support of the ordinance, you must sign up between 12:45-1:00pm.

    • The Public Comment Period is expected to begin around 2:00pm, but only those who registered before the meeting will be allowed to comment.

    • Please limit your comment to 1-2 minutes in length, ending with recommending passage of the Urban Agriculture Ordinance.

    • After your public comment, you are welcome to leave; there is no requirement to stay the full duration of the meeting.

So far, Atlanta’s citizens and councilmembers have demonstrated overwhelming support for the proposed ordinance.

  • 21 out of 25 Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs) approved the ordinance resulting in an 84% approval rating.  No NPUs voted against the ordinance.

  • On May 1, 2014, the Zoning Review Board approved the proposed ordinance.

  • On May 28, 2014 the Zoning Review Committee unanimously recommended approval.

More details about the Urban Ag ordinance can be found at www.gogrowatlanta.org!