WABE News

Refugee Families Farming Land at North DeKalb Mall

Credit Taylor Dozier

Farmers — professionals and hobbyists — all over our area are getting ready to plant. You will find one burgeoning farming operation in DeKalb County in a most unlikely place.

On a small parcel of floodplain, tucked between a car dealership and North DeKalb Mall, sit 30 farming plots of varying sizes. Spring planting begins soon.

“Okra, beans, peppers, eggplant . . . ” is just the beginning of a long list Taylor Dozier rattles off. Dozier is the general manager of the mall, and the community garden was his idea.

“Malls have sort of always been a community type place, and you know, a meeting place, a place where people get together for different activities,” said Dozier. “And this is really, I think, just a changing way in that malls continue to be that.”

This is the North DeKalb Community Garden’s second year. Many of the farmers are refugee families. In exchange for agreeing to farm their plots through spring and fall planting season, they can keep the food they grow or sell it at local markets. They are learning how to farm the land here with the help of local volunteers.An audio version of this story

Dozier says there is clearly a cultural and agricultural exchange. “There’s always one or two, you know, fruit or vegetables that a refugee family will plant that I’m not sure what it is. So I’m excited to see which ones the new refugee families will bring and have to add to the diversity.”  

Dozier says, if all goes well, he already has his eye on another piece of land on mall property that could accommodate more farmers. And he is hoping to set up a produce stand outside the mall this summer.