About 25 miles south of Atlanta sits a 1000 acre parcel of land that embodies the creative vision of entrepreneur Steve Nygren and his lovely wife Marie. The couple discovered the property now known as Serenbe on a weekend outing to introduce their children to the Georgia countryside in 1991. Weekend visits for the family transformed their lives, and three years later they sold their Atlanta home and relocated full-time to Serenbe.
Their vision was to create a community where you could live and yet enjoy the beauty of the countryside. Their plan for the area was to build homes and businesses in 30% clusters, leaving 70% of the land for agriculture and open space.
When you enter Serenbe, passing by the original farmhouse and Inn on the way to the center of town, you sense something quite different - a sort of serenity that pervades the road past the little burros on the right and the heron filled lake to your left. Continuing down the fence lined road you pass a sign that welcomes you to Serenbe, and states its purpose and goals. On its website it states:
At Serenbe we value nature, passion, creativity and community. We believe people can live more fully when connected to the
wonder of nature.
We value people for who they are, not what they are or what they do.
This is a community where people live, work, learn and play in celebration of life’s beauty. A place where connections between people, nature and the arts are nourished.
We stopped and had lunch at the Hill restaurant, the center point of the first of Serenbe’s communities, which first we visited in 2005. They serve a lot of their own locally grown vegetables, and the meals were wonderful. In the restaurant we met Steve Nygren. He shared what has transpired since we were last there -- apartment buildings, new homes, and more businesses. He also shared something that struck me as the real heart of Serenbe. When we asked him about rentals, he responded. “John, you can come visit, stay for a day, or a month, or a lifetime.”
We met Emily when we needed a new leash for Daisy (forgot it at home), and she was very helpful and enthused about her new business. “We offer all sorts of services here,” she stated. “We’ll walk your dog for you, groom them, even pick them up and deliver them. She can be reached HERE.
We had come originally that day to learn about the musical Carousel they were performing as part of the cultural series. Steve told us they actually rented an amusement park and placed it in a field near the farmhouse to present the play. WOW. It rained opening night and they were unable to use it, and rain was scheduled for the evening we were there. I love the play and the music by Rogers and Hammerstein, and hope to see it again someday - and better if it is at Serenbe!.
We visited the Bosch center, which shows how you can make your house completely energy self sustaining. Info HERE.
And we walked through the general store where information about all that is going on in the community is posted and available for everyone to see - a throwback to the past of the general store being the focal point of the local community.
On the way back home we stopped at the Inn at Serenbe, which was the original farmhouse that drew them there, and bought my favorite Blueberry jam, which is made from local berries.
We turned left onto Hutchinsons’s Ferry Road, and as we drove away, reality slowly reappeared -- we were transported back to the rest of the world as it is.
Steve and Marie's vision for Serenbe has matured over the years, but never wavered. It is a magical place, showing what can be accomplished with a clear vision and ideals. They have created a community in which you can live in conscious cooperation with nature, and a place in which you can be proud of being a contributor.
A magical place where each of us can stay for a day, a month or a lifetime.
I am already looking forward to my next visit.
Check HERE for events, activities and more info about Serenbe.
John O'Melveny Woods is an author and publisher living in Fairhope, Alabama. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his web site is HERE