By Anne Cacherell
Aside from providing a peaceful retreat, maintaining a rooftop garden provides a communal focus and a sense of place with ecological benefits. Metro Atlanta Task Force, an organization which has consistently served homeless individuals through their housing, employment and healthcare programs since 1981, believes in this principle.
In 2009, the agency created an organic rooftop garden that aimed to teach the homeless about urban food production and sustainable technologies. This gardening initiative currently has 80 single-raised beds with small crops of lettuces, carrots, radishes, squash and other fruits and vegetables. To make it more extensive, they have added beehives for pollination and honey and have been harvesting rainwater for irrigation.
To enhance opportunities, the resident volunteers participate in Truly Living Well Urban Growers Farmer Training, a specially-funded agricultural project that prepares the participants for their future endeavors like a career in entrepreneurial farming and marketing. Moreover, it also offers a 6-month internship that certifies them to train other members of the community.
In an interview with Atlanta Progressive News, Executive Director of Metro Atlanta Task Force Anita Beaty said:
“It is important to share and train residents in green technology that we are involved in because poor and homeless people are being left out of the green development that we see burgeoning in our community.”