Last week, I visited Serenbe and found out exactly why this 1,000-acre sustainable community was described by The New York Times as Utopia.
While photos of Serenbe show the community's remarkable beauty and appeal, there's no substitute for experiencing it in person. Of course I'd heard about Serenbe before my trip, and was looking quite forward to it. But once I walked down the sidewalk, and met the first residents, of both the furry and human varieties, I realized that being there is the only way to truly experience the magical, almost surreal vibe that is the essence of Serenbe.
The community is only 32 miles southeast of Atlanta, but it might as well be a world away. As the busy downtown Atlanta traffic gives way to the gently rolling hills that lead to Serenbe, the feeling that you're coming upon something remarkable begins to take root.
Within Serenbe, the center of town and the homes that surround it are known as the neighborhood of Selborne. This is the cultural heart of Serenbe, with performing arts, a gallery and a plethora of interesting shops. It seems that everyone visits the Blue-Eyed Daisy bakeshop as it serves as the village gathering spot.
As for the Blue-Eyed Daisy, it's appeal is obvious, even outside of the charm of the bakeshop's interior. Did I mention the freshly baked peach muffins? Or the ham and cheese scones? Luckily, there are more than a hundred miles of nature trails for the perfect afternoon run to burn it off. And then there's dinner at the Inn at Serenbe, or the Hil on the Hill.
If this is beginning to sound like a love story, that would be an apt description. Because I've yet to even mention the wonderful accommodations, from the aforementioned Inn at Serenbe to the rooms available within the community.
Personally, I made my home at The Nest, a charming two-bedroom loft apartment tucked above a shop in the village. I'm not sure if it was the great food, the exercise, or the country air, but the downy, white bedding made for a perfect night's sleep throughout my visit.
Each day was filled with something new, from watching where HGTV is building the next home for its Green Home Giveaway, to visiting the stable and pastures where horses graze, or the 70-acre farm that provides fresh vegetables to Serenbe residents as well as restaurants throughout the area.
The homes are built to be green and sustainable, with most built to EarthCraft standards, which is a green building certification program for the region. Front porches take the place of front lawns and native landscaping adds a natural beauty that is unmatched by the most elaborate gardens in other towns.
Yes, Serenbe worked its charm on me. It is truly a place like no other. And part of our goal here at ProudGreenHome is to help inspire others to create their own Utopia so that everyone can lead a greener, more sustainable life.
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.