The forest is in the Browns Mill neighborhood of southeast Atlanta, where the closest grocery store is a 30-minute bus ride away.
“Access to green space and healthy foods is very important. And that’s a part of our mission,” says Michael McCord, a certified arborist and expert edible landscaper who helps manage the forest.
“We 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 here they get to experience everything urban agriculture and urban forestry all in one day. It’s really special.”
The forest is now owned by the parks department and more than 1,000 volunteers and neighbors are helping to plant, water and maintain the forest. In a day alone, there can be more than 50 volunteers working on the forest.
That work of maintaining the forest is done by volunteers is a testament to the forest’s ability to build community, said Carla Smith, an Atlanta city councilwoman who helped start the project.
“It’s really a park for everyone, said Smith. “Every time I go there’s a community there who respects and appreciates the fresh healthy foods. There’s a mentality there that people know to only take what they need.”
“Everything out of a park space is a teachable moment, whether it be trees, trails, bees or vegetables. That’s what’s most important to me — that we’re raising awareness about sustainability and agriculture.”