Louise Jackson Receives Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award

(Front, seated): Louise Jackson, (Rear, L-R): Decatur City Commissioner Patti Garrett, Decatur Mayor Pro Tem Kecia Cunningham and Wylde Center Executive Director Stephanie Van Parys.
(Front, seated): Louise Jackson, (Rear, L-R): Decatur City Commissioner Patti Garrett, Decatur Mayor Pro Tem Kecia Cunningham and Wylde Center Executive Director Stephanie Van Parys.

Long time Oakhurst resident Louise Jackson was presented with the 2014 Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award at the city of Decatur and Wylde Center Earth Day celebration April 19 at the Oakhurst Garden.  Jackson was honored as a founding member of the garden, along with the late Sally Wylde.


“Louise Jackson was instrumental in the founding of the Oakhurst Community Garden over 15 years ago,” said Wylde Center Executive Director Stephanie Van Parys.  “It all began when some students from the nearby school carelessly kicked over a number of her fabulous flowers and plants when walking home from school.  Determined to turn the situation into a positive learning experience, Mrs. Jackson discussed the incident with the school’s principal, and offered ideas for nurturing the children, rather than punishing them..  Over the course of the next year, she and the students planted and tended new plants and flowers together.  The students learned a tremendous lesson about growth and cultivation, but even more importantly, they learned wisdom, compassion and friendship from a lady whose flowers they had once trampled.”


Building on the experience with the students, Jackson sought out the help of her friend Sally Wylde and together, the two women began to cultivate a larger vision for their community.  Their goal was to obtain a small piece of property where local children could come and learn to interact with the earth; plants and each other.  And so began the long and rich history of what is now the Wylde Center.


The Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award nomination for Louise Jackson read, in part:

"Thank you, Mrs. Jackson, for your courage; your wisdom; your insight; your willingness to trust in the goodness of youth and for being a pillar of the community whose legacy continues to this day throughout the neighborhood and the city as a result of that original garden with Sally.  Looking at the mission, vision, and values of the Wylde Center tells a great deal about our nominee Mrs. Jackson."


The award is named for Sally Wylde, who passed away in 2010 and whose family was honored with the first award.  Other prior winners include Greg Levine for his work with Trees Atlanta and the work Trees Atlanta has done in Decatur and the Oakhurst community (such as establishing the Oakhurst Arboretum).  Last year's winner was the Morse family, who donated property that is now known as Woodlands Garden in Decatur.


About the Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award:


Established in 2010 by the Oakhurst Community Garden Project and the City of Decatur, the Sally Wylde Cultivating Life Award annually recognizes an individual or organization in Decatur making an extraordinary contribution to the community and its natural environment. The award is presented to those who demonstrate qualities held dear and embodied by Sally Wylde, an artist, environmentalist, activist, and educator whose work and life have inspired people of all ages to become better caretakers of the earth, of one another, and of themselves.  The award acknowledges an exceptional and lasting positive impact with efforts through many venues, such as nonprofit and service organizations, public agencies, schools, institutions and faith communities.


About the Wylde Center


In 1997, an idea took root in the Oakhurst area of Decatur, Ga.  Neighbors Sally Wylde and Louise Jackson envisioned a community garden where children could learn about the natural world and enjoy hands-on gardening activities.  With the purchase of a half-acre of property at the corner of South McDonough St. and Oakview Road, the Oakhurst Community Garden was born.  From this small seed of an idea, the Oakhurst Community Garden blossomed and grew, and quickly became one of the area’s most popular gathering spaces, offering individual garden plots, educational programs, a destination for school field trips and other youth groups and social activities for all ages.


Today, supported by members, foundations, corporations and donors, the non-profit has been re-named the Wylde Center to honor its co-founder and to better encompass its expanded range of properties and programs.  The Wylde Center oversees four distinctive greenspaces including the Oakhurst Garden, a year-round educational program for all ages, social events and the Decatur City Schools’ Farm to School Program.  Staff and volunteers engage children, families and individuals in activities designed to develop creative skills in sustainable urban living, organic gardening, health and nutrition.  The non-profit has grown from a Decatur-based organization to one that is providing environmental educational services for metro Atlanta.  Despite its robust growth, the Wylde Center has stayed true to its original mission of cultivating vibrant greenspaces for everyone to enjoy and inspiring communities of environmental stewards.  www.wyldecenter.org



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