An innovative homeless shelter in Atlanta is home to a massive rooftop garden, but what makes this garden unique is that the residents of the shelter are the ones who planted it.
“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,” Anita Beaty, executive director of Metro Atlanta Task Force, told Atlanta Progressive News.
The organization, which services homeless and formerly homeless people in its sustainable facility, offers a number of programs to its clients. In addition to its growing gardening initiative, the Metro Atlanta Task Force has a 24-hour assistance hotline, day service center and transitional housing program, among other programs.
But the rooftop garden, which was first established in 2009, serves as a means to teach homeless people about urban food production and sustainable technologies, while also giving them the chance to feed fellow residents.
“The idea is to produce enough to feed the residents something green and healthy daily,” Carl Hartrampf, a board member who manages all aspects of the garden, told Vice.
Residents of the shelter are responsible for 80 separate garden beds, which produce carrots, kale, and squash, along with numerous other vegetables. The first harvest from the garden produced 55 pounds of produce.
Each day a full meal, using the freshly picked produce from the garden, is available on site. The combination of providing healthy meals, while teaching important real-world job skills, is a winning recipe in helping to empower the homeless.
“Everything we do here involves residents,” Beaty told APN. “They get job training and every job is preparation for a job outside.”