Future Considerations of the Maddox Park Greenhouse: An Exploration of Urban Food Production and Education as a Means to Community Revitalization in Atlanta's West Side
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The intention of this research project is to produce a report that investigates this question by understanding the implications of a proposed installation and operation of an urban farm/aquaponics campus and food production/distribution center at the site of the Maddox Park Greenhouse, a property currently owned by the City of Atlanta. Building on information based on this emerging technology in urban farming, this report considers the implications of an installation of Bioponica’s systems at the Maddox Park greenhouse. This paper intends to proactively raise questions and address issues regarding how the installation would be integrated with and thus affect the areas surrounding Maddox Park, primarily the neighborhoods, as well as the larger city as a whole. It is the goal of this report to create understanding of the potential of such a Center, in terms of job creation, food security, quality of life, community health, educational opportunities, as well as its impacts and interactions with existing infrastructure and plans in the area. The site is a 15,000 square foot greenhouse located inside Maddox Park, which is an underutilized park located west of the English Avenue neighborhood next to the Bankhead MARTA rail station. It is located on the proposed Beltline corridor. The greenhouse is not currently utilized to its full potential and there has been much talk about the opportunities of transitioning the greenhouse into an alternative use. In addition to the needs of the adjacent residents, the neighborhood is also extremely underserved with places to acquire fresh food. The city overall has an unmet demand for local food and lacks a skilled workforce necessary to increase the production of local food, as well as infrastructure to train a sufficient workforce; thus there are significant barriers to developing a local base in this green job sector. There is also no formal food systems planning in Atlanta. However, the City of Atlanta has set forth some ambitious sustainability goals relating to local food and waste recycling. Specifically, they are to reduce/reuse/recycle 30 percent of residential waste and bring local food within 10 minutes of 75 percent of residents. The objective of the proposed center is to revitalize and retrofit the greenhouse and ultimately Maddox Park as a site for food production, organic fertilizer production, food waste recycling, and education that focuses on aquaponics and urban agriculture jobs training, farm-to-school, after school programming, local food sales and distribution. It has the potential to become a fresh food connection in the neighborhood, producing but also bridging the community to other food suppliers and vendors, as well as proving education on the importance of eating healthily.