Atlanta nonprofit S.E.E.D.S. Global has big plans to create nutritional resources in a food desert.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
1 Team Member
A few miles west of but still within view of Downtown Atlanta’s skyscrapers, men and women loiter in parking lots of busted-up buildings and shuttered stores. Weeds grow in yards of abandoned homes. Real estate investor and Miami native Alex Delgado owns several apartment complexes in the area, including a boarded-up, fenced-off eyesore that he has big plans for. Together with farmer Todd Mitchell, Delgado has started S.E.E.D.S. Global, an urban farming initiative in the middle of some of Atlanta’s worst blight. The idea came to them after a call from The Hunger Games.
Well, to be accurate, the movie crew contacted a local hydroponic store, which connected it with Delgado and Mitchell. The crew had more than 35 leftover hydroponic towers from The Hunger Games production in Atlanta worth approximately $100,000 total. Delgado and Mitchell gladly accepted the donated towers.
For the last few months, Delgado, Mitchell, and the complex’s residents have been farming more than 150 hydroponic trays filled with tiny sprouts of basil, Swiss chard, and sage, among other herbs and greens. It’s all part of S.E.E.D.S. Global’s effort to create nutritional resources in a food desert.
The S.E.E.D.S. Global team plans to renovate the adjacent complex’s buildings to accommodate rooftop greenhouses. Delgado and Mitchell intend to gut the buildings’ interiors to create community spaces and, once solar power is added, install the donated hydroponic towers. An additional 20,000-square-foot greenhouse is proposed for the rear of the property. At least 10 upper-level former apartments facing the street would be converted into live-work units.
Mitchell and Delgado have already cleared out nearly a decade’s worth of trash. One rear building’s floor has been removed to make way for a future collection of tanks to house fish that would fertilize plants being grown with aquaponics. But it all starts with simple wood to build the racks for the greenhouses and materials to begin constructing a terrace for a community garden.
Atlanta-based news organization Creative Loafing will help facilitate the project as part of its ongoing Do Good campaign, a series of grassroots partnerships with Atlanta nonprofits. Do Good sponsor the Home Depot Foundation will match money raised by the nonprofit with in-kind donations worth up to $2,500. The resulting $5,000 will enable S.E.E.D.S. Global to transform the abandoned complex Delgado owns into an urban agriculture hub.
“We’re doing this because there’s a need,” Mitchell says. “We want to give access to and change this environment through healthy food.”