December 5, 2019

Atlanta Food Forest Partners Receive U.S. Forest Service 2019 Chief's Award

ATLANTA — Today, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recognized the partnership that created the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill in Atlanta with the 2019 Chief’s Award. The Chief’s Award is the U.S. Forest Service’s premier award that distinguishes the outstanding accomplishments and partners that contribute to the USFS’s strategic goals. Members of the Food Forest partnership receiving today’s award include: The Conservation Fund, the City of Atlanta Office of Resilience, Trees AtlantaGreening Youth Foundation, the Friends of the Food Forest, the Food Forest Community Garden, and all other residents and community stakeholders who have supported this initiative.

The Food Forest is a 7.1-acre urban greenspace where Atlanta community members can pick free healthy food. The Conservation Fund initially acquired the land to prevent forest destruction and then transferred to the City of Atlanta when funding became available from the USFS’s Community Forest Program. The Chief’s award was granted to this project for its success in delivering benefits to the public in line with USFS’s goal #7—to “provide all Americans access to a safe, nutritious and secure food supply.”

As the largest public food forest in the United States, the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill provides accessible, healthy produce, nuts and herbs in a neighborhood that lacks access to food. The park also advances community access for recreation and employs two community members through Trees Atlanta. The Food Forest partners, working hand-in-hand with the Browns Mill and Lakewood communities, were able to transform what was once an abandoned property into an edible landscape, while simultaneously ensuring its permanent protection for the community.

“We deeply appreciate this high honor from the U.S. Forest Service for one of our most unique and influential urban park projects. The Food Forest partnership exemplifies everything that makes urban park conservation great. We are grateful for this recognition of the Food Forest’s remarkable impact on the community, and for our wonderful partners and community leaders who have helped make it happen,” said The Conservation Fund’s Urban Conservation Manager, Shannon Lee.

Funding for the Food Forest land acquisition was appropriated by the U.S. Congress to the USFS’s Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (CFP), which competitively selects projects to fund. This federal program allows communities to acquire and conserve forests that provide public access, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and more. CFP also is an important land conservation tool that communities can use to preserve private forests in cities, just like Atlanta’s Food Forest. The Community Forest Program made funding available for the City of Atlanta to purchase the Food Forest property from The Conservation Fund, who held and managed the land on behalf of the City of Atlanta.

Additional USFS funding supported Greening Youth Foundation’s workforce training with residents who helped build out the site, including invasive species removal, trail development, planting of the first phase of the orchard, and construction of the raised garden beds. Georgia’s U.S. congressional delegation representing the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill includes U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senator David Perdue and U.S. Representative John Lewis.

The Food Forest is one of The Conservation Fund’s Parks with Purpose program’s most recognizable urban parks. Parks with Purpose uses equitable park development projects and a community-centered approach to transform and restore blighted, inner city properties into vibrant new parks. These revived greenspaces—like the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill—achieve dual outcomes such as expanding access to fresh, local foods, reducing stormwater flooding impacts, training and employing residents, and creating natural habitat in highly urbanized neighborhoods.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including more than 140,000 acres in Georgia.

Val Keefer | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5802 |