According to a City of Decatur stormwater ordinance, no residential or commercial properties can be developed within 75 feet of a stream. Since the grounds behind Decatur’s Oakhurst Presbyterian Church sit on a floodplain, the property is therefore considered “valueless.” However, the Wylde Center—an organization that manages greenspaces throughout Atlanta—didn’t see it that way. In 2010, the space was transformed into Sugar Creek Garden: a vibrant community garden comprising herbs, medicinal plants, fruit trees, and more.
A local landscape design firm developed the land using principles of biodynamic farming meant to rejuvenate depleted city soil. In the weeks and months leading up to opening, the firm even held workshops on growing vegetables and fruit trees as well as tending bees.
Today, Sugar Creek Garden contains 16 community garden plots available for rent, a pollinator garden, and a row of active beehives. While some plots are dedicated to cultivating herbs for local restaurants, the majority are community-oriented, giving green-thumbed locals free reign to grow as they please. Volunteers run a multi-bin composting system (the volunteers and Wylde Center plot holders get dibs on finished compost, but the general public can partake in limited quantities). The garden also features a gathering space for community events, meetings, and yoga retreats. Pretty impressive for “valueless,” no?
Know Before You Go
Sugar Creek Garden and Herb Farm is open seven days a week from dawn until dusk. Parking is available in a driveway beside the Phoenix School playground. If you’re traveling north away from the Oakhurst village on East Lake Drive and reach Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, you’ve gone too far.