In 1996, Ms. Louise Jackson, a resident of the Oakhurst neighborhood in Decatur, had no idea that one little nuisance would transform her community. What she knew then was that every afternoon, children leaving the nearby elementary school cut through her yard and trampled her beloved garden. A single decision, however, made all the difference.
Instead of involving the police, Mrs. Jackson partnered with a group of neighbors to invite the children to become caretakers of the garden. Working together, they restored Ms. Jackson’s garden and added a beautiful, hand-painted fence. The children watched with delight and amazement as their plantings took root and flourished, and something ordinary turned into something special—a process they had never noticed or understood before.
With their newfound enthusiasm and knowledge, they moved on to create a garden in the median strip of the street in front of Ms. Jackson’s house. The children took tremendous pride in their work, which was honored at a ceremony with the city’s mayor, who presented each children with a certificate of appreciation. Faster than kudzu, word spread about how much fun it was to dig and plant, and suddenly, more children were lining up to work in Ms. Jackson’s garden.
The next year, a nearby, undeveloped half-acre lot became available. The property, which had been used as a commercial basil farm, was at risk for development in the rapidly gentrifying Decatur community. Instead, however, some neighbors acquired it, and the Oakhurst Community Garden Project was born.
Oakhurst Community Garden
435 Oakview Road Decatur, GA 30030
Stephanie Van Parys, Executive Director
(678) 642-4977 or (404) 377-8675