In Seattle, an “edible urban forest” exists where people are allowed to walk in and pluck fruits and veggies for free. The idea behind Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest is to boost public health by regenerating public land into an edible forest ecosystem where people who suffer from food insecurity can gain access to fresh produce, all while simultaneously uniting the community.

Seattle isn’t the only one to have an edible forest. More than 70 public food forests dot the nation, and now Atlanta is looking to get in on the action after passing an ordinance that paves the way for the creation of the city’s first public food forest. Sited on a 7-acre swath of woodland, the urban food forest would be the largest in the country. This initiative, per the ordinance, is part of an effort to ensure that 85 percent of Atlantans are within a half-mile of fresh food by 2021.

If all goes according to plan, the southside Atlanta forest would serve as a public park replete with “edible trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcover,” as well as communal spaces, walking trails, garden beds, and stream-side areas. Now that’s what we call a great use of unused public lands.

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