WINDER, GA — The Winder Housing Authority is one of 27 communities chosen to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative encouraging communities to create sustainable, healthy neighborhoods through local agricultural markets. Local Foods, Local Places assigns a team of experts to assist communities in executing plans such as farmers markets, community gardens, and other food-related business that enriches the community and revitalizes local neighborhoods.
Six federal agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority, joined together to decide the 27 communities out of over 300 applicants. The 27 communities chosen will receive technical assistance valued at $850,000 to help reach their goals.
For Winder, the initiative takes the form of a pedestrian-accessible community kitchen and community garden in the city’s Community Development Center.
Launched in 2014, Local Food, Local Places has already helped 26 individual communities enrich their neighborhood through different developments. According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the program benefits more than just the local agriculture community.
“Local Foods, Local Places helps people access healthy local food and supports new businesses in neighborhoods that need investment,” said McCarthy. “The program is good for the environment, public health and the economy. By helping bring healthy local food to market and offering new walking and biking options, Local Foods, Local Places can help improve air quality, support local economies, and protect undeveloped green space.”
The program seeks to make a difference in people’s lives. Through Local Food, Local Places, communities are able to take new, innovative approaches in revitalizing the way people live. Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, is confident that the program has a significant influence on the overall outcome of today’s younger generations.
“The community where a child grows up impacts her odds of graduating high school, health outcomes and lifetime economic opportunities,” said Vilsack. “This Administration has embarked on a different, locally-driven approach to empower homegrown solutions. Projects like these help us learn how to better coordinate and target federal assistance as we work with communities to ensure zip codes never determine a child’s destiny and every part of America prospers.”
While there are already some local farm markets like Green Acres Farm Market in Braselton, the new initiative will cultivate further education and prosperity in local communities. Ola McNeil, owner of Green Acres, believes that America is still not fully educated on their produce. However, by supporting local farmers and buying their food, families can rest assured that what they’re eating is superior than what is on the shelves at big box grocery stores.
“We want to be healthy. We as a nation are sick,” McNeil said. “We’ve been fed all this artificial, processed, garbage. Our bodies need to be recharged. Our minds need to be recharged. We need to nourish our bodies and nourish our families and nourish our children so they are healthy and strong and can be the best they can be.”
Green Acres is also in the process of reinventing the way they cater to the community, including their own local kitchen.
While the EPA has yet to release a date for the plans in Winder, locals can make the shift to support their surrounding agriculture community by shopping at markets like Green Acres.
For more information on the initiative:
For more information on Green Acres:
By Natalie Roe