serenbe GA, hot trends, suburbs, agriculture, “agriburbia” vision, WSJ.com, garden & gun, utopia, NYTimes.com.
: After my visit yesterday, i did a little research … very interesting. 🙂
Used to be, developers built high-end suburban communities around golf greens.
The hot amenity now? Salad greens.
Serenbe, in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., has adopted some of the “agriburbia” vision. In addition to an organic farm at the heart of the development, nearly 70% of the public landscaping in the latest Serenbe village also consists of edible species. “We walk down the street and grab blueberries off bushes,” says homeowner Tom Reed. The challenge, he says, is “remembering to leave some for other people.”
WHEN TO GO: No disrespect to kale, but if you plan a visit to this community where daily life revolves around a productive farm, think mid-July, when the garden is in full swing, ample tree canopy offers plenty of shade, and the foothills rustle up a cooling breeze.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Built as an environmentally sustainable antidote to urban sprawl, Serenbe covers 1,000 acres in the deep woods of Chattahoochee Hill Country. Village streets are few but lively, with excellent dining and shopping options, as well as a summer theater. The hundred or so year-round residents live in energy-efficient cottages and town houses, while visitors stay at the Inn at Serenbe, a gorgeously restored 1905 farmhouse with several side buildings and cottages. Owners Steve and Marie Nygren—veterans of the Atlanta dining world— put life on the farm front and center. That said, a first-class day spa keeps things from feeling too Green Acres.
In just a few years, this idyllic community — which aspires to be something of a Sonoma for the New South (though without the wine) — has become a destination for Atlantans in search of a day trip with the kids or a getaway without them. My wife, Dina, and I recently took the latter course, and quickly discovered a refuge that washed away the stresses of city living within minutes of arrival, after an hour’s drive through Atlanta’s ever-worsening traffic. Despite only word-of-mouth advertising, it is increasingly attracting visitors from afar, some on extended layovers at nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Serenbe defies easy description, and is perhaps best understood through the story of its creation. In 1991, Steve and Marie Nygren, an Atlanta couple with deep roots in the city’s culinary life, took their three daughters for a ride in the country. The trip was prompted by the advertisement of a farm for sale, and the family ended up buying the 60-acre parcel, with its 1905 farmhouse and rolling terrain, as a weekend home.
Three years later, Mr. Nygren sold his stake in Peasant Restaurant Group, which had helped introduce Atlanta to fine dining in the 1970s with restaurants like Pleasant Peasant and City Grill, and he moved his family to the farm. His wife, whose mother had owned Mary Mac’s Tea Room, one of Atlanta’s most beloved Southern eateries, christened the place Serenbe, because it was such a serene place to be.
Within two years, the Nygrens had converted the farmhouse into a bed-and-breakfast, and begun a series of additions and improvements. The barn became a guesthouse, and several tin-roofed cottages were restored into romantic hideaways. There are now 19 guest rooms in different configurations.
They planted a garden thick with tomatoes and zucchini, and dug a pair of swimming pools, along with a fishing pond. They populated the property with llamas and donkeys and rabbits and goats, and added a croquet lawn, an open-air pavilion for weddings, miles of hiking trails and a labyrinth made of stones cleared from the organic fields.
Another in pdf form ..