This October will mark one year of living in Atlanta, and my husband and I are still finding new reasons every day to love this city. Some of the things that have stood out the most that set Atlanta apart from any other city we've lived in are it's community gardens, urban farms, and over flowing farmers markets.
One of the first places we felt welcomed into our neighborhood was at the farmers market. It's a place to make new friends, discover new foods and ideas, as well as getting involved (if one chooses). It's a place of inspiration to say the least.
We have also made our way around to quite a few community gardens. It's hard not to notice them sprinkled throughout the city. Well, unless they are one of the community gardens tucked back into a park or neighborhood.
Community gardens are a great way to bring people in the area together. It's a way of educating and sharing knowledge. They provide an opportunity to grow your own food and connect with the earth, not to mention community gardens have proven to act as an anti-crime agent.
In 1995, Atlanta established its first community garden which grew to 25 gardens by 2008. Now, there are somewhere around 170. We are seeing community gardens pop up in schools and many are incorporating these gardens into their classes. These gardens teach children and adults how to garden by letting them see firsthand where their food comes from and learning what it takes to grow it – you can't underestimate the positive effects that can make.
Community gardens have become very diverse being established by all kinds of organizations and community groups. Park pride is an organization that manages over 20 gardens in Atlanta parks, including Freedom Park and Brownwood Park. They are tucked back into the parks not too far off the walking path. You can hear children playing on the playgrounds nearby while you work the dirt. Gardens such as these add an unexpected pop of color and interest through the park and a smile to your face.
Other community gardens have been started by schools and students such as the Decatur High School community garden. These make it possible for students and community members alike to work the garden, learn how to care for crops, understand the process of composting, and how to manage disease and insects. It's a huge outdoor science experiment, what could be better? Many of these even allow the opportunity to work alongside experienced gardeners volunteering to share their knowledge and lend a hand in the grounds.
We have never experienced such community spirit (particularly when it comes to food systems) anywhere we have been. Though we have lived in Atlanta for less then a year, we have mad pride in where we now reside. What a beautiful thing this city has going. There is so much to be proud of with a city flourishing with so many wonderful organizations like Community Farmers Markets, Georgia Organics, Park Pride, Atlanta Local Food Initiative, and so many more that help strengthen our local food system. Whether you have an interest in local food, pining for your own urban farm, or just looking to connect with the life of your food, there is a place for you here.
There is much to enjoy about this city, but it's the food movement that has won our hearts. It's the community and all the opportunities to connect with one another. What a wonderful time to be in the city - kudos Atlanta, it takes a special kind of people to create such a movement.