Atlanta’s Free Food Forest


Via The Conservation Society

Colleen McMenamin, Staff Writer

Once an abandoned and dying pecan farm, the largest (7 acres) free food forest was built in Atlanta, Georgia in order to combat growing food insecurity. 

A food forest, also known as a forest garden, are diverse gardens filled with edible plants meant to mimic how these plants grow in nature. This type of garden is generally very sustainable and resilient, not even requiring much work after initial planting. 

A non-profit organization named The Conservation Fund was behind this project, creating their main goal of ‘agroforestry’ into reality; this term describes marrying the forest and field in a way that benefits both the environment and humans. The Conservation Fund saw this as an amazing opportunity to develop another garden because of the growing issue of hunger and food deserts in Atlanta. 

Despite being located four miles from downtown, the nearest grocery store is a 30-minute bus ride away, making getting healthy food a hassle for the ~2,100 residents of the area. This forest is part of a short-term goal to bring healthy food within half a mile to 85% of Atlanta residents within the next year. 

Long-term, the mission of the garden is not only to provide food and green space to Brown Mill residents but also to educate them on urban agriculture for a healthier future. According to an interview with a Conservation Fundvolunteer, “[They] host lots of students for field trips, and for a lot of them, it’s their first time at a garden or farm or forest,” said McCord. “So they get to experience everything urban agriculture and urban forestry all in one day. It’s really special.”

The Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill in Atlanta is currently the largest public food forest in the country, serving as a model for future generations.