Urban Farmer: Pattie Baker encourages community gardening

By Anne Hampson Boatwright

Pattie Baker may look like another full-time mom who writes and gardens on the side, but she’s changing the world one environmental project at a time. The author, website creator, and sustainability advocate wasn’t always an expert. Her life changed with an intentional shift after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Following a successful corporate career, the New York native settled into stay-home motherhood, freelancing on the side. After Sept. 11, she imagined the country would launch a food security program similar to World War II’s Victory Gardens, but it didn’t happen. Knowing she never wanted anxiety again over food supply, Baker planted a kitchen garden in her back yard. The garden grew and she opened it to neighborhood kids as a teaching tool.

Eventually her vision extended to the larger Atlanta community to help supply food to groups in need. She became engaged in teaching people to feed themselves nutritionally and locally even in an urban environment.

In 2009, she helped found a 60-plot community food garden and led a sustainability commission for the newly established city of Dunwoody; both are still active today. The motto of her website Foodshed Planet (foodshedplanet.com) is “Local Action. Global Traction” and her recent book, Food for my Daughters, contains creative tips for simplifying, going green, sustainable living for children and recipes. Baker has been published or reviewed in numerous local and national publications including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and O Magazine.

Not all of her projects are mapped out in advance; some launch spontaneously, like Operation Pear Tree. Noticing a city tree’s fruits dropped in the street, she organized volunteers through online notifications to salvage the produce. They donated 567 pounds to a local food pantry and re-purposed the waste stream. And Watermelon Week was her initiative to deliver watermelons to Fugees Family Camp, a program for refugee child survivors of war, in Clarkston. Each project builds her confidence even when she’s forced outside her comfort zone. “Trust the journey,” she says.

How does Baker get such quick and effective results? She cites blogs, social media, and email linking as highly successful methods of creating buzz about projects. Baker is also skilled at fostering business and community partnerships to make things happen. Combining her professional corporate content writing with her personal interest of telling sustainability stories, she accomplishes three goals: it pays the bills, companies’ bottom lines increase, and people are moved to action. When successful, her work affords her time to volunteer for her “passion projects.” Humbly, she sees herself as a “very small stone in the pond.”

One of latest projects is blogging as a garden ambassador for Farmer D. Organics, a farm-supporting garden center run by Daron Joffe in north Decatur. Her efforts help extend the social reach of Joffe’s work. But she’ll always have her hands in the dirt. Even her writing and conversation has an earthy authenticity. Couple that with modern sensibilities and technical savvy and you get major changes.

“I love that there still exists power to do good with the pen…errrr… keyboard,” Baker says.

1 Comment
  1. Thank you foryintroducing this wonderful source.. I checked out her website and subscribed to her magazine online.. it’s thrilling to see people making change like this…

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