Melanie Bowerman joins CED alumni in Atlanta on Urban Food Forest Effort

Melanie Bowerman, a third year MLA student from California, recently presented to Atlanta residents and stakeholders on urban edible forests. Speaking at the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill community design meeting in the Lakewood neighborhood, Melanie’s talk focused on the meeting theme, “What Could Be On Our Food Forest,” and provided case studies that she has researched for her thesis.

The purpose of the presentation was to show possibilities and inspiration as well as examples of successful public food forests across the country. Bowerman was asked by MEPD graduate, Elizabeth Beak (’16) to present ideas and issues concerning planting trees that create food (pecans, fruit trees, berries, etc.) in urban “forests.” Beak, whose thesis was on farming on rights-of-way in Georgia, was recently hired by CED alum and Mario Cambardella, who now serves as urban agriculture director for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, City of Atlanta. From a position created in collaboration with Food Well Alliance and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Beak is the first urban agriculture fellow in the City’s urban ag program. Currently, the office is planning to create a 7.1-acre public food forest, which will be the largest in the U.S. The City of Atlanta is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and The Conservation Fund on this project.

“The Browns Mill Food Forest will be the pilot program for the concept of a food forest, a first for the City of Atlanta. The Urban Food Forests at Browns Mill, in addition to providing a food source, develop ecological literacy by teaching people how plants grow and by helping foster a connection to the cultural and social history of this community through food,” said Cambardella.

Bowerman, who will be helping with the design process in Atlanta later this year, plans to make a career in urban design with food production in mind, and hopes to engage local neighborhoods in care and harvesting edibles from managed urban forests.