This past November, Yo! Boulevard Food Co-op celebrated its one year anniversary. In partnership with Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall's Yo! Boulevard initiative, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, and TLW, the co-op provides residents in the Old Fourth Ward with packaged goods and fresh produce.
The co-op started last year with the help of TLW AmeriCorps VISTA's Sara Thorpe and Joya Greene. Our current VISTA, Braxton Allen, is the food co-op coordinator for the 2015-2016 year. With a modest beginning of only 1 cohort and 17 members, it has grown to 3 cohorts and about 70 members, as well as a steering committee of founding members that purchase food for distribution and reviews future plans. The overall mission is to build a self-sustaining co-op ensuring residents access to safe, culturally appropriate, and nutritious food through an economically and environmentally sustainable system.
Co-op member Pearline Reed states, "The co-op is very important to my community [of Cosby Spears Apartments]...there are a lot of seniors that live here and participate. Also, there are people with children and it has helped a whole lot." Member De'Loris Garrott hopes to see an increase in 6 or 7 cohorts in 2016. "I just want to see it grow...and to see us keep interacting with organizations in the neighborhood."
Braxton's goal for 2016 is: "for the member leaders to be able to independently manage their roles within the co-op. Of course, there will be someone there for consultation and support, but I would love for the co-op leaders to be confident in their roles. Overall, my goal for the co-op is that the members enjoy a sense of community within the program that isn't restricted to distribution days."
As you can see, urban agriculture and providing access to fresh quality produce can create positive changes in the food system and community, transforming the way that people connect with each other and the land. Join us as we share a vision of sustainability and social justice!