Learn About The KSU Food Forest

The KSU Food Forest, in development on 1/3 acre at the KSU Field Station, will serve as a model of sustainable urban cultivation, and demonstrate the potential of food forest systems to mitigate climate change and promote food security and health. The KSU Food Forest project was created by Geography Professors Dr. Jason Rhodes and Dr. Vanessa Slinger-Friedman, along with Michael Blackwell, Operations Manager of the KSU Field Station. 

 plot of land before cultvated for Food Forest

Our Mission

Our mission is to model sustainable urban cultivation and demonstrate the potential of food forest systems to mitigate climate change and promote food security & health.


Student holding a carrot

Our 4 Major Goals

  • Strengthen Atlanta’s food system by planting food forests in food insecure communities (food deserts)

  • Build across community lines of race and class through ongoing collaboration between faculty and staff of the KSU community and residents of neighborhoods selected as food forest sites

  • Promote math and environmental science education, and agroforestry knowledge and skills, among project participants, with a particular focus on youth in project-site communities

  • Demonstrate the potential of food forests to not only promote food security but also address the urgent environmental issues of climate change and water sustainability 

The Food Forest History


The KSU Food Forest is located at the KSU Field Station. The KSU Field Station is in Hickory Grove about five minutes from KSU’s Kennesaw campus. Interestingly enough, before the area became a farm, it was a cement mixing plant owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). While toxic chemicals were not necessarily dumped into the soil, enough damage was done to strip the soil of active microbial communities.

Once the site came under the control of KSU, Michael Blackwell (Operations Manager at the KSU Field Station) has remediated the soil. This remediation was done in a number of ways: trucks from KSU occasionally pick up leaves from campus and take them to the farm to mulch the soil. Originally this organic matter was being disposed of in the landfill. Another form of bioremediation using mushrooms is carried out at the KSU Field Station. Straw also used in this remediation method comes from Fall and Halloween decorations on campus, the leaves come from campus facilities vacuuming them up off the grass, and the wood chips comes from a timber company. In this situation, the KSU Field Station is using materials that would end up in a landfill and, instead are used to create the perfect growing medium for mushrooms which in turn prepare the earth for production.

Today, the KSU Field Station is managed by the Office of Research and provides a number of teaching, learning, and research opportunities for faculty and students.

Food Forest