Edible Insect Social Franchise
Our vision is to extend health and wellness in local communities, plus restore their natural resources - a place where everyone eats.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Farmer Co-op or Farmer Business Organization
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
West End, a historic in-town neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, USA which covers a total area of XX km^2
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
My relationship to the West End community is a fond one. Upon my graduation from Emory University in 1994 with a B.A. in Economics, one of my first homes as a young professional was in the the West End community because of its affordability and proximity to the city district in which I worked. Many of my classmates called me an urban pioneer because the West End area was considered a pretty gruff part of town. However, I found residents within the community to be warm and welcoming with a strong sense of community and pride. I also found the area inspiring, even with its spotted blight. I always saw the potential it had to become a bustling in-town neighborhood yet again. Of course, make no mistake, crime, drugs, and violence were prevalent in the area, so knowing ones neighborhood was definitely a preventive measure in a lot of cases. Fast forward to today, approximately 25 years, and it appears substantial residential home investment and development is taking place in the community. Yet, several aspects of the community have yet to change: limited-to-no access to grocery stores with healthy, fresh food options, crime rates, business development and investment to drive income generation, improved preventive medial care or health outcomes and increased modes of public transportation. However, there has been an emergence of small, urban farms throughout the community that are helping to slowly change the food landscape within these communities.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
West End is a historic neighborhood of Atlanta, one of the oldest outside Downtown Atlanta, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. West End residents are primarily (89%) African American and the neighborhood contains several prominent African American cultural institutions, in addition to being adjacent to the Atlanta University Center complex of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). West End is located southwest of Castleberry Hill, east of Westview, west of Adair Park Historic District, and just north of Oakland City. The residential West End is known for its stately architecture and landmark homes. The Hammonds House Museum, featuring African-American fine art, reflects the area's heritage, while the Wren’s Nest, home of 19th-century writer Joel Chandler Harris, displays original furnishings. Nearby, the Atlanta BeltLine’s West End Trail is a paved multi-use path. There are a number of vegetarian and soul food spots in the area. However Atlanta’s west side, with its stark contrasts of wealth and poverty, is a microcosm of the region’s food desert dilemma. Atlanta is a city of high highs and low lows when it comes to income; it tops the list for income inequality in U.S. cities. A MARTA ride from north to south illustrates the stark divide, with a median household income of $104,518 at Buckhead Station and of $19,447 at West End Station. For context, the median household income in Atlanta from 2011-2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $47,527. However, the per-capita income for West End (30310) is $18,291. The U.S. average is $31,177. The average income of a Atlanta (zip 30310) resident is $14,564 a year. The US average is $28,555 a year. The Median household income of a Atlanta (zip 30310) resident is $24,664 a year. The US average is $53,482 a year. Atlanta (zip 30310) has an unemployment rate of 4.2%. The US average is 3.9%.
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
In poor communities such as West End, food is more expensive and less fresh and healthy. And here’s an irony: Much of the local produce prized by the city’s finest chefs is grown in urban farms in poor neighborhoods such as the West End—produce that is often trucked across town to farmers markets in wealthier enclaves. But of all the factors, none is more important than transportation. Our low population density combined with a lack of comprehensive public transit means that many people simply cannot get to places where fresh food is available. The consequences are also clear: decreased access to healthy food means people in low-income communities suffer more from diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes than those in higher- income neighborhoods with easy access to healthy food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only is the food system in the West End area and Southwest area of Atlanta, Georgia at large severely compromised, many residents are unfamiliar or have little exposure to the practice of farming, other sources or income or other more affordable, alternative protein sources.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Our vision to extend health and wellness in local communities, plus restore their natural resources lies with establishing an insect farm cooperative with a twist. We would merge the cooperative with the social franchise model. The solution will address aforementioned challenges in this community as follows: a) provide employment opportunities for residents to become a farmer and also, benefit from economies of scale by lowering their costs of acquiring inputs or hiring services such as storage and transport; b) provide residents an inexpensive, hyper-local and versatile alternative protein option; c) educate residents about the health and sustainable benefits of insects as an alternative protein option to drive healthier outcomes; d) share innovative and efficient farming practices to help residents become more self-sufficient, learn new skills and potentially generate income; e) develop partnerships to utilize the insects as a by-product for nourishing soil and treating contaminated water; and
f) achieve goals that they may not otherwise be able to achieve by themselves.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The potential productivity, newly acquired skills and economic growth experienced from the boost of new commodity - such as insect farming - in the West End could change the relationship between people and how they interact with impending development changes for the better. Introduction of a healthy, sustainable alternative protein could also help to improve health outcomes of residents choosing to supplant or supplement their diets with edible insect protein. Oddly enough, engaging youth in insect farming programs and activities could help help encourage and increase literacy rates by providing an incentive for students to learn something exciting and new. Also, not to be overlooked, is the potential sense of freedom some residents may feel from the outputs of insect farming which would add vitality to the community.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
In addressing these challenges, residents within the West End community would experience improved livelihoods in a number of ways as follows:
- Potential income generation that provides an individual or family more financial stability (even a few more
hundred dollars a month can move the needle for a family grossing less than $24,000 annually).
- Infusion of a new industry/business into the community to help boost the local economy and exposure
- Development of a new, more sustainable, and regenerative food system that engages the community in
disrupting the supply chain to create more accessibility.
- Introduction of a healthy, versatile, alternative protein allowing for more inexpensive options, increased self-
sufficiency and improved health outcomes over time.
- Use of a potential regenerative protein to greatly reduce the use of natural resources in the production of a
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Colleague forwarded it to me via email