Oprah discovers Dunwoody’s Pattie Baker

Magazine “O” Honors Inspirational “Farmer” for Work in Community Gardening, Sustainability

O: The Oprah Magazine has discovered what people in Dunwoody’s sustainability community have known for a long time. Pattie Baker is something special.

Pattie is featured in the November issue of the magazine (Page 165), which has begun hitting newsstands.

The writer, Margaret Rhodes, discovered Pattie this spring . The article is about the Community Garden in Brook Run Park, the food it generates for families in need in Dunwoody and how Pattie is the guiding light and driving force behind the garden.

Rhodes connected with Pattie through Rebecca Barria, who at the time was director of the Community Garden.

The article is headlined “Take the Oprah Challenge” and is about finding your true calling in life (Page 157). Oprah wrote the introduction and challenges readers to find their “sweet spots,”  “the things that tap into our strongest strengths and deepest loves.” To do that, she says we should ask ourselves three questions:

  1. How does what you’re doing make you feel?
  2. Does it have a positive impact on others?
  3. Does it turn up the volume and increase the vibration of your life?

Oprah then offers a four-step fulfillment workbook and short stories about eight people – a quilter, a pianist, a dancer, for example -- who have found their calling.

Pattie was expecting to be called “the gardener.”  Instead, the editors called her “the Farmer,” which “kind of took my breath away,” she wrote in her blog. She said that’s a title she could get used to!

Pattie explains in the “O” article that it was the 9/11 attacks that motivated her to take up gardening. She then explains how that started her on the path that led her to start the Community Garden in Brook Run Park in August 2009.

After the magazine went on sale at Costco at the end of last week, Pattie, true to her nature, posted a “special thanks to all of the folks involved” in the Community Garden on her blog “Let's hope our small inclusion in this magazine inspires others to find and act on their passions, too,” she added. 

The picture of Pattie in the magazine was taken at the Community Garden by her older daughter.

The article puts Pattie and Dunwoody on a national stage in what has been a busy year for the city’s best-known urban farmer. In August, she and other Community Garden volunteers realized their dream of harvesting a ton of food for hunger in a single year and donating it to those in need, mostly through the food pantry at Malachi’s Storehouse at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church on North Peachtree Road.

Around Labor Day weekend she published her first book, Food for My Daughters. The book is a gift from Pattie to her daughters and makes a connection between food and resiliency and sustainability. It is filled with the kinds of practical tips and philosophical advice her daughters – or, others -- are not likely to get anywhere else. It is available from amazon.com.

Last week Pattie helped children of families who receive fresh produce and other items from Malachi’s Storehouse sow a winter cover crop in a 25-foot long Plant a Row for Hunger in the church’s vegetable garden. It’s a garden she says that is a special place and is a place she feels called to be.

This week she’ll start becoming involved for a short time with "outreach and learning" as a volunteer at the Chattahoochee Nature Center's Unity Garden.  Pattie says the garden is really an urban farm with 100-foot rows for crops. What really appeals to her, she says, is that 100 percent of the produce from the garden is donated to those in need. She says she’s looking forward to learning some new skills that she thinks will be useful in the long-term.

What’s next for Pattie?  She will be quick to tell you she isn’t quite sure.

Perhaps the answer is in the way she signs correspondence … Learning as I grow.

As anyone who has met Pattie knows, as she learns she inspires others to find and act on their passions as well.

Because of her work and the efforts of those who have followed her lead, people in need in Dunwoody have fresh organic food on their tables every week of the year.

And in that we can all learn a lesson.



October will be a busy month for gardeners in Dunwoody. Here’s what’s coming up:

October 11 – Garden training class: Planting and Growing Native Trees. Gary Peiffer, horticulture manager of the DeKalb Extension and a trained forester and arborist, will talk about how to plant and grow trees and some of the natives that will do well as shade trees in Atlanta’s urban landscapes. Cost: $10 per person, which also includes door prize entry. Questions or to register: 404-298-4080. 7 p.m. 4380 Memorial Drive, Training Center, Decatur, Ga. 30032 (Parking is on the right just off the Northern Avenue entry way, very close to I-285.)

October 12 – The monthly meeting of the Dunwoody Garden Club. This month’s speaker is Sara Henderson and her topic is “Flowers for the Winter Garden.” Sara is president of the Georgia Perennial Plant Association. The meeting will also feature the club’s fall Member Plant Swap. 9:30 a.m. The North DeKalb Cultural Center, the Williams Room at the Dunwoody Library.

October 12 – The Spalding Garden Club is presenting “A Gardener’s Delight,” a plant sale, boutique and flea market. Proceeds from the sale will benefit community projects. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Kingsley Racquet and Swim Club, 2325 North Peachtree Way. 

October 14 – Annual District Meeting of the Redbud District, The Garden Club of Georgia. Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. Meeting begins at 10 a.m. Registration fee: $30. Oakhurst Farm, 18999 Ga. Hwy 219, West Point, Ga.  31833. For more info, contact Rigby Duncan at Whatarig@aol.com.

October 16 – Malachi's Storehouse is holding an Oktoberfest celebration in honor of its 20th anniversary after the 10:30 a.m. service. Awards will be presented to many members of the community, including the Community Garden. The entire community is invited. St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 4755 N. Peachtree Road. 

October 19 – Children’s Gardening Program. 3 – 5 p.m. Dunwoody Library.

October 24 – Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run Park is hosting an open house as part of Food Day, a national event that seeks to focus Americans’ attention on the benefits of healthy, affordable food. 2- 6 p.m.  The greenhouse and Community Garden at Brook Run Park. For more information about the open house, contact Muriel Knope, murknope@gmail.com. For more information about joining the garden, contact membership@dunwoodygarden.org.

Paula October 10, 2011 at 12:19 PM
How awesome for Pattie!!
Susan Mitchell October 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Well deserved recognition for one of the many special people who make Dunwoody...Dunwoody. Congratulations, Pattie.
lastminutemom October 11, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Ditto what Susan and Paula said. We are very proud of you, Pattie!
Noelle October 11, 2011 at 02:24 PM
That's huge--congrats!
Pattie Baker October 11, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Thanks for your nice comments, and Tom, that was very generous of you. Thank you.


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