Urban Farm Competition Highlights City’s Commitment to Local Food Systems
September 15, 2011 | Kelly Hatton
Participants in the Trinity Avenue Farm Design Competition are vying to change the view from Atlanta’s City Hall. The competition, open to Georgia residents, calls for design entries to transform a 0.8 acre lot on Trinity Avenue in downtown Atlanta from a patchy lawn to a working urban farm, and offers a $25,000 award for the winning design team.
Andrew Chew, of Atlifield Design, is on one of about thirty design teams thus far registered for the competition. Chew’s design will draw on his experience in organic agriculture, small-scale urban food production, and community gardening.
“What inspired me to take part in the competition was the opportunity to develop my design skills, to make an impact on the successful reemergence of community and local farming in the United States, and, let’s be honest here, the cash,” said Chew.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the competition on August 24 as part of the city’s Power to Change sustainability plan. The plan aims to improves food access for Atlanta residents and pledges to bring local food within ten minutes of 75% of the population by 2020.
“Mayor Kasim Reed envisioned the unused space across from city hall as an ideal location to demonstrate our commitment to local food systems,” explained Aaron Bastian, communications manager at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “By providing the opportunity to have a direct hand in its creation, this competition will give Georgia residents ownership in this urban farm.”
The Mayor’s office teamed up with established non-profits and existing urban farms in Atlanta to execute the project. The judging committee includes representatives from Sustainable Atlanta, Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture and Georgia Organics. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has pledged a $35,000 donation for the competition as well as farm startup costs.
“By hosting a competition with a significant prize we encourage those with the biggest and best ideas to expand their horizons to create an innovative space to showcase the possibilities when rethinking conventional urban farming,” said Bastian.
The design teams come from a variety of business, academic and agriculture backgrounds. Bob Drew, founder of rainwater collection company, Ecovie Environmental, is bringing his experience with water catchment systems to his team’s design.
“Sound water management leads to more sustainable gardens and farms,” said Drew. “We can do this in a way that helps eliminate food deserts within the city and teach people how we can better provide for ourselves.”
Teamed with experts in design and sustainable farming, his team’s design will include a water catchment system, solar panels, and vertical farming techniques to maximize production on the small parcel of land.
“We hope that [Trinity Farm] will provide something that all can be proud of as we strive to be smarter about the way we use our resources. The innovative solutions will hopefully spur even more creative ideas to help us all live better,” said Drew.
Designs will be judged according to set criteria, which include farm aesthetics and growing models, opportunities for educational programs and community involvement, and the inclusion of sustainable technology and innovation.
Teams have until October 14 to register, and until November 1 to submit the required drawings, budgets, and team biographies. The winning design will be announced in December, and Trinity Farm’s Grand Opening is scheduled for April 2012.