To Picnic or not to Picnic: A Trip to Serenbe Farms
Over Easter weekend, David’s parents came to visit us in Atlanta. Being that Bob shares my interest in farming and local food, we decided to take them to Serenbe Farms. For those of you unfamiliar with Serenbe, it’s a “certified organic farm nestled in sustainable Serenbe community,” about an hour southwest of Atlanta. People own homes in the Serenbe development, which also includes a handful of shops, a couple of restaurants and an inn. The farm grows lots of vegetables throughout the year and folks in Atlanta can participate in a Serenbe CSA during the warmer months, and share in the farm’s bounty.
David and I ran a trail race at Serenbe last fall and enjoyed our time in the town, but I definitely got a little bit of a Pleasantville vibe from Serenbe. It just seems a little ‘too put together’ for a farm. Think rustic Pottery Barn. Even the signs in Serenbe seem like they’ve intentionally been created to look old. It’s definitely worth a visit to check out and assess for yourself.
On Saturday morning, we packed a picnic (because where else could be a more perfect place for a picnic than a farm community?) and headed south. It was a gorgeous day, so we walked around the farm and the community. I immediately fell in love with the baby goats, especially the runt of the group.
I also took a liking to the pig, or at least that’s what I think it is. Quite hairy for a pig, right? Most girls my age covet designer bags, cars, and clothes. I covet farm animals.
After checking out the Serenbe shops and making some purchases, we headed back to the car to retrieve our picnic supplies. Finding a perfect spot for our picnic, we settled down to our meal, the part of the day I had been looking forward to the most.
It makes logical sense, right? Spring + Farm + Gorgeous Weather = picnic
Doesn’t it just sound perfect? To me it did. I felt like we could be on the cover of Serenbe Magazine or Southern Living.
Towards the end of our picnic a white haired man, clad in a ginormous Serenbe belt buckle, who’d earlier been driving a green Mercedes approached us. “Isn’t that nice?,” I thought to myself. He’s coming over to meet us, maybe even see if we’re interested in buying property here. Not so much. David introduced himself and the man towering over us, responded, “Who are you with?” Wow. Was I at a country club or a farm? Our silence showed that none of us quite new how to reply.
‘Sheriff Serenbe’ then informed us that they don’t allow picnics at Serenbe. Really? Do they prohibit laughing and hand holding as well? Now I’m a rule follower so believe me, if any signs existed on the property that listed the ‘picnic ban’ I would never have laid down my blanket. He proceeded to tell us that we should be eating at the restaurants, not picnicking. I didn’t think quickly enough to tell him that we’d already made purchases in the stores earlier that day. Way to drive away your clientele, sir. David and I had no plans of buying property at Serenbe, but if we had, this anti-picnic stance would most likely have been a deal breaker. He told us we could finish our picnic if we wanted to, so we ate for a few more awkward moments and packed up our belongings.
Why am I still thinking about this encounter, over a week later? Unclear. I think the resonation remains because it makes me feel like Serenbe’s trying to be something it’s not, or at the very least, having an identity crisis. Is Serenbe about farming and sustainability or elitism? Can it be all of the above? It seems like we keep hearing local, sustainable and accessible being used together but do people really want the local farming movement to be accessible? Throughout history, food has always been a status symbol. Why does it have to be this way? Will quality of food always be a way to separate the haves and have nots?
We still enjoyed our picnic, prior to the interruption and my Serenbe fascination remains, despite being potentially black listed from the property for being a rule breaker. I do love that the farmers at Serenbe are young, enthusiastic growers who share a love of and appreciation for the earth and it’s bounty. They encourage volunteers on the farm and pay you for your work in fresh veggies. In fact, I hope to spend time working on the farm this summer. I’ll just make sure not to bring a picnic.