Plant A Row Partner Profile: Wylde Center

Wylde Center is one of the partners for Plant A Row in DeKalb County. Founded in 1997, Wylde Center offers educational programs, events and greenspaces that actively engage youth, families and individuals in their environment, health and community, and that develop skills in environmental science, sustainable urban living, organic gardening, health, and nutrition.


Joining the Wylde staff in 2005 as the executive director, Stephanie van Parys is just as committed as she was on her first day to creating spaces for the community to discover the wonders of nature and teaching everyone how to grow their own food. Never one to keep her nails dirt-free, you will find Stephanie in her own garden each weekend!


Mission statement: To connect people to nature.


Go to them for: School education programs, home garden workshops, community garden plots, seasonal plants, and community events.


Website: www.wyldecenter.org


Address: Their office is located at 435 Oakview Road, Decatur, GA 30030 which is also the location of their Oakhurst Garden. Check their website for the addresses for their other four gardens: Hawk Hollow Garden, Mulberry Fields, Sugar Creek Garden, and Edgewood Community Learning Garden.


Three questions with Stephanie Van Parys of the Wylde Center:


RD: Wylde Center has played a major role in local food and environmental education for almost 25 years -- what’s been the key to your success?


WC: The key to our success is providing programs that meet the needs of our community. People love to garden and luckily, we love all things gardening as well. We also have a passion for what we do which is teaching about the environment and gardening. Another part of our success is that people respond to what we offer either by signing up for classes, buying plants, or making annual donations to the organization. You need that kind of support to serve your community every year.


RD: You have a lot of moving parts, with different sites, classes and offerings. How do you balance it all?


WC: The key to balancing our many moving parts is to have a clear mission statement to which everything ties back. Another important factor is having a very talented and hardworking staff, board, and volunteer who are committed to making sure everything we do makes sense and continues to bring value to the people we serve.


RD: Who are some of your inspirations in doing this work?


WC: Certainly what motivates us internally inspires our work - things like a commitment to making this planet a better place for everyone to live, to build resilient communities. Externally, the people we work with also inspire us to keep moving forward. When a student thanks you for teaching them how to garden, a plant sale customer is excited beyond words that you are selling a certain type of tomato, or you roll over a log and find salamanders…. Well, those things inspire us to get moving forward. The work is very rewarding.



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