Food Innovation Network: Who Can Farm This Land? A Conversation with Mario Cambardella

On Wednesday July 27, the Center for Civic Innovation, in partnership with Food Well Alliance, hosted Mario Cambardella, the Director of Urban Agriculture for the City of Atlanta. Mario provided updates to attendees on several projects. 

  • PROPERTY AGGREGATION: Responding to community requests for a more centralized database of City of Atlanta owned property, Mario’s team has created a map of all City owned properties. This information isn’t available online, but can be accessed by emailing Mario a request.
  • FEES: Government fees shouldn’t be prohibitive to our urban growers, so Mario’s team has started targeting fees that can be reduced to encourage more growing and food access. If you're running an urban farm on non-commercial land (i.e. a house), your water bill can now be charged for domestic use, not storm drainage. This should help keep prices lower for watering your fruits and veggies! In addition, farmers market permit fees are now $1, instead of $250.

  • NEW FUNDING & JOBS: In the past six months, the new Urban Agriculture Department at the City of Atlanta has attracted a budget of over $250,000 in new money for increased urban farming! They have also secured funding for two new urban farming positions:

  • NEW LAND: The main focus of the evening was on two major land announcements from the City of Atlanta that directly affect the farming and growing communities.

    • The City of Atlanta will soon have its first urban food forest! The project is 7.1 acres of contiguous, dedicated urban land (2.1 acres of open space and 5 acres of forest) and will be the nation’s largest urban food forest!

    • New growing spaces! The Urban Ag Department  is working with partners to bring new, large growing sites to metro Atlanta farmers. Multiple sites connected to Georgia Power powerline easements are in the final process of being secured. These large tracts would be available for TEAMS of farmers/growers to use on a contract basis. 

You can see more details about all of the above mentioned projects here.