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Decatur Youth Council and City of Decatur start planting Legacy Park

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Decatur Youth Council and City of Decatur start planting Legacy Park

The twins and leaders of DYC Sydney and Alix Wagner.

The twins and leaders of DYC Sydney and Alix Wagner.

The twins and leaders of DYC Sydney and Alix Wagner.

The twins and leaders of DYC Sydney and Alix Wagner.

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The City of Decatur bought the $40 million United Methodist Children’s Home for their 77-acre green space Master Plan two years ago. The Master Plan includes building an amphitheater, track, field facility, and affordable housing options. Only recently has the city started to make renovations and use the space.

According to, Decaturish, local nonprofits Global Growers, Decatur Education Foundation, and the AJC Decatur Book Festival have moved their offices onto the property. Also, the cottages will temporarily house families from the Swanton Heights apartment complex while their former building is being reconstructed.  

Decatur also decided to restore the Children’s Home fruit orchard, planting the same amount of fruit trees as the number of children who first lived at the property 150 years ago. The Orchard will be called Legacy Park and represent the history of the Methodist Children’s Home.

The Decatur Youth Council (DYC) took on the challenge of planning and orchestrating the tree planting, funded by a grant from the ALFI Orchard Project with assistance from the Atlanta Regional Commission, Atlanta Toolbank, and the City of Decatur.

MaryRyan Howarth
The Vice-Chair of DYC, Sydney Wagner, digging a hole for one of the pear or apple trees.

On March 2, Decatur students and City of Decatur workers planted 19 pear trees, 14 apple trees and 25 blackberry bushes for their first step towards working on the space.  The pear trees represent the number of girls that lived in the home the first year it was established. The apple trees represent the number of boys that lived in the home.

The planning director of the City of Decatur, Angela Threadgill, came to the event to help “recreate the historical site.”  

Threadgill leads the master planning process for the 77-acre site.

Threadgill still has many plans for reestablishing the United Methodist Children’s Home, “There used to be a pecan grove so maybe in a future phase we can recreate that as well,” Threadgill said.

The members on DYC jumped on the opportunity to lead the tree planting event on March 2, “With the new property from the Children’s home, we thought it was a perfect opportunity for us to come in and build this memorial garden,” junior and Vice Chair of DYC, Sydney Wagner said.

MaryRyan Howarth
All of the volunteers, DYC members, and city workers after digging the holes for the new trees.

The Chair of DYC, Alix Wagner, also saw the importance of organizing the building of the orchard. Wagner got involved with DYC her freshman year when it was first created. She has loved getting to know more of the city government and has opened up her activities beyond Decatur High.

“The Orphanage was for the youth, so it only seems natural for us to plant this orchard dedicated to the first class of orphans that lived here,” Alix said.

Every year, since it was created three years ago, DYC does a project that involves the youth in Decatur, but this was the first year the project involved community service. Last year’s youth project was planning a concert on the Square. This year, DYC decided to do a concert in addition to the community service project.

The concert is on May 11 and will be sponsored by the Decatur Business Association. More information is set to come out as the date draws nearer.

Over the short time that DYC has been around, they are expanding rapidly. In their first year there were only nine people, now the council has 14. Alix has been on DYC for all three years and appreciates all of the experiences she has received from DYC.

“It been really great to be able to get to know the city government [and people who are apart of it],” like Commissioner Smith, who loves to get involved in DYC activities, Alix Wagner said.

“[The members of DYC] bring great energy to city projects,” Commissioner Smith said.

DYC members Sydney Wagner and Alden Wright with volunteers planting one of the first blackberry bushes.

Alix says that because of Smith, DYC has access to many city resources and connections.

“it’s awesome to see the city government working with the youth,” Alix said.

For Sydney, DYC has opened her eyes to new experiences as well, “It has been one of the best things I have done in high school because we have opened up the community to do things that I would have never been able to do just at the high school.”

Within the council, the members have learned how to work as a team and communicate with different people, inside and out of DYC.

“I’ve met a ton of great people through DYC, everyone is very committed,” junior and Secretary Julian Daniel said.

Together, DYC strives to make a lasting impact on their community.  

“We have so many resources in the community to really make a difference,” Sydney said.

Helping to create Legacy Park is a good step in that direction to “give back to the community and make an impact locally. This space is going to be used and appreciated by so many people,” Sydney said.   

As Alix said, the trees planted in Legacy Park will “be here for a long time,” providing fruit and a lasting symbol of what used to be here.  

If you are interested in joining Decatur Youth Council, please email Alix Wagner, 17alixwagn@csdecatur.net, for information. They are looking for new and young members!

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About the Contributor
MaryRyan Howarth, Author

MaryRyan Howarth (Class of 2021) is a dedicated, hardworking, and fye person overall. She loves soccer, the outdoors, reading, and being with friends/family/dogs....

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Decatur Youth Council and City of Decatur start planting Legacy Park