Last Wednesday April 14, 2021, Roots Down had its first official Fruitful Communities Forum. The event was a great opportunity to hear from Roots Down’s Founder, Jamie Rosenthal, and Content Director, James Carr. Next, Sister Terri Ali and Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan of Mohammed Schools of Atlanta presented on the plants Roots Down installed at their schools. In addition, Commissioner Ted Terry spoke about his role as part of the Fruitful Communities Initiative, and his goals to fight food insecurity and climate change while creating green jobs in DeKalb County.
Here is a summary and further links that elaborate on the points made during the discussion:
As the Fruitful Communities partners were present, Jamie discussed how each partner works with the initiative in order to create a Fruitful Community. The partners included DeKalb County, Wholesome Wave, Compost Now, Ecologic, Farmers Jam, Georgia Audubon Society, ServeScape, Concrete Jungle, Grow with the Flow, Commissioner Ted Terry, and DeKalb County RPCA. Learn more about our partners here.
Productive Urban Landscapes
The goal of the Fruitful Communities program is to create Productive Urban Landscapes. The forum discussed and explained what PUL's are, how we create them, and how they benefit the community. Want to learn more about PUL's? Read our blog, What is a Productive Urban Landscape.
Mohammed Schools of Atlanta
Sister Terri Ali and Dr. Zaheerah Shakir Khan of the Mohammed Schools of Atlanta spoke and gave insightful comments on how PUL is changing their community and schools. After an effective groundbreaking at the Mohammed Schools, Sister Ali and Dr. Khan explained their vision to see the Fruitful Communities initiative expanded to benefit the county. To read more about what we did at Mohammed Schools, read Planting Fruit Trees With Mohammed School.
Libraries and future groundbreakings
Fruitful Communities plans to break ground and bring PUL to the Stonecrest and Clarkston libraries during Earth Week. The forum explained why libraries are a great place to start building PULs. To read more about that process, check out the blog, Why Libraries are the Perfect Place to Build Fruitful Communities.
At the end of the event was a Q&A session where attendees shared their questions, concerns, and comments. The Roots Down team and Commissioner Terry answered the questions. Here is a recap of the most popular topic discussed at the event:
City and County Ordinances
City and county ordinances for replacing lawns with PUL was a concern for attendees. Commissioner Terry stated that city council members have the ability to adjust and continue to educate and train people who don’t understand the efforts behind creating these spaces. Commissioner Terry then brings up that he understands the struggle with Homeowners Associations. However, the Commissioner encourages all to participate in the democracy of HOA and use your voice during HOA elections. Finally, he stresses the flexibility of choosing how you want your yard to look. Not every yard has to be jam-packed with plants, so choose a level that you are comfortable displaying.
Commissioner Terry then passes the stage to Jamie, who urges that lawns can be aesthetically beautiful and grow food. You don’t have to compromise one for the other! Fruitful Communities wants to clear ordinances that make it difficult to create PUL.
Many attendees thought of schools when first hearing about the initiative. Commissioner Terry explains Fruitful Communities’ goal to imagine a hang-out spot where students can play in the soccer fields and access fresh food. He continues to say that the county and school board work together to create youth programs and have a safe, healthy environment to have organic, chemical-free spaces.
Meadows and Wildlife
An attendee asked what could be done for meadows that they would like to repurpose to grow blueberries and wildflowers. Jamie explains that it is sometimes difficult to get mowers and landscapers in meadows because of the slopes and hills. However, Fruitful Communities plans on working more with GDOT in order to incorporate more perennials, aesthetics, and beauty into meadows. Commissioner Terry suggested reaching out to DeKalb County to work on meadow maintenance. He wants residents to have co-ownership and co-creation for areas such as meadows and encouraged the participant to email him for special interest areas.
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