Sustainable Agriculture for Food, the Environment, and Economic opportunities (SAFE)

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2024: $49,845.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipients: Kennesaw State University; Michael Blackwell, KSU Field Station Operations Manager; Walter Davis of Davis & Daughter Farms; EliYahu Ben Asa from Atlanta Harvest; Mike McCord, Community Foodscapes; Good Food, Green City
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Vanessa Slinger-Friedman
Kennesaw State University
Dr. Amy Gruss
Kennesaw State Univeristy
Dr. Jason Rhodes
Kennesaw State University


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

The purpose of the
Sustainable Agriculture for Food,
the Environment, and Economic opportunities
(SAFE) program is to improve access to
quality education related to sustainable agriculture and soil
regeneration for economically disadvantaged communities and to
increase food security by providing the hands-on skills,
materials and support necessary for program participants to
design and plant their own community food forest. Three online
modules, four recorded in-person day-long workshops, and two site
visits to sustainable farms (recorded, with farmers’ permission)
will allow participants to obtain considerable knowledge and
skill in this topic. The existing KSU Food Forest (KSUFoodForestImages)
will provide a training space and allow for the propagation of
most of the plant material to aid in the creation of a new
community food forest in Southwest Atlanta and other future food
forests in USDA food desert designated communities. Lessons
learned from this project will be presented at an annual
conference hosted by leading farmer organizations. Specifically,
we will provide a stipend to 20 community participants to engage
in instruction and hands-on training in which they learn about
soil regeneration, food forest design, and propagation. On farm
visits with Georgia farmers who practice regenerative
agriculture, using cutting edge techniques, will provide
participants with inspiration and knowledge for their own designs
and plantings. Additionally, the participants will receive
hands-on training in food forest design and planting from Co-PIs
and our project farmer cooperators, including two sustainable
Georgia farmers (Walter Davis of Davis & Daughter Farms; and
EliYahu Ben Asa of Atlanta Harvest) and other farmer
collaborators (Michael Blackwell, Operations Manager of the KSU
Field Station, and Mike McCord, owner of Community
By linking the learning and
results of the participants to other rural and urban food
production projects, we will put participants on the cutting edge
of efforts to demonstrate the potential of this form of
sustainable agriculture to promote food and water security and
mitigate climate change. The learning will culminate in
participants and Co-PIs planting a food forest during the second
year of the project in an approved space in a food insecure
community in Atlanta. Deliverables in this project include: (1)
freely accessible online modules and recorded workshop content on
sustainable agriculture, soil building, and propagation that will
extend beyond the timeframe of the project to educate the program
participants, farmers and communities. Educational content
availability on the KSU website will ensure ongoing public access
to these resources, (2) the creation of four in-person recorded
workshops that feature hands-on learning on soil health and
propagation, (3)
propagation of fruit and nut plant material from the KSU Food
Forest within the project time frame to allow for one community
food forest to be planted by participants in a USDA designated
food desert community and additional (post project) food forests
in economically disadvantaged communities, and (4) dissemination
of learning from the project to the greater farming community via
presentations at a farmers’ conference/training as a place to
share the model, impact, successes, and challenges to a wider

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Provide public education on
    sustainable farming techniques by creating three open-access,
    free online education modules with a long shelf life that teach
    sustainable agriculture principles.
  2. Create, deliver and record four
    in-person day-long workshops and provide two field trips to
    give participants and the extended farming community hands-on
    training and engagement with local farmers who are doing
    sustainable agriculture as a demonstration of cutting-edge
  3. Strengthen Atlanta’s food
    system by establishing a food forest, using material propagated
    at the KSU Food Forest, within a food insecure neighborhood
    that will provide food and plant material for other food
    forests in the future.
  4. Present the project model and
    lessons learned to the wider agricultural community at an
    annual conference or training hosted by a leading farmer
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.