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Mad Dworschak-Victory Gardener Extraordinaire, Part of Five Stories to Brighten Our Lives



The Bright Side of Lockdown in Peachtree Corners

We can all relate to the surreal feeling brought on by the coronavirus as we struggled with being caught in this bizarre new world that was difficult to believe yet impossible to ignore. We couldn’t help but feel shocked as it unfolded — it was unprecedented — although there had been a dreadful buzz in the air heading straight for us from miles away.

As our nation is sieged with controversy, climbing death rates, trepidation and uncertainty, I wanted to find some uplifting, local COVID-19 stories that would serve to brighten our spirits. This is part 4 of 5 stories to be posted.

One of the great perks of living in Peachtree Corners is our proximity to Atlanta and its many trendy hubs like Old Fourth Ward, just 20 miles away. Mad Dworschak hails from Dunwoody/Sandy Springs where her family still lives, but she has been an Atlantan since starting her career as a graphic designer.

Mad on the move on social media and her victory gardening website

Dworschak had been looking forward to a more nine-to-five schedule after having worked around the clock shifts at CNN. Six months into her new job at the Atlanta Department of City Planning, the coronavirus turned the whole world on its ear.

Abiding by stay-at-home orders, she turned to cultivating a hobby she has always found comforting — gardening. Normally, it gave her something to do at the end of the day but working from home with “… everything shutting down right as spring started springing up,” was kismet for the birth of her flower and vegetable garden this year.

A New Year’s Resolution

Dworschak had already committed to a focus on surviving and thriving in 2020, while going through a difficult personal time last winter. She had intended to expand her edible gardening, unaware at the time that she’d be thrust into it on the heels of a global pandemic disrupting our lives so profoundly.

Inspired by the author of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” Dworschak adopted the term. “She said plant a little Victory Garden if you’re nervous about having enough food because nothing dresses up a can of beans like some fresh herbs,” Dworschak recounted.

Mad’s super fun victory garden poster

COVID-19 made it apparent how fragile food security is and how quickly losing a job could cause a family to struggle. “I think people latched on to the concept. They remember the poster of the woman holding a cabbage, “Grow Your Own Garden for Victory!” We all feel helpless right now, but this is at least something we can do,” she said.

Free Seedlings

Initially, Dworschak set out a cardboard sign in front of her 1920s duplex located across from where Dr. King went to school, with the scrawled message ‘Free Seedlings!’ “I put out extra seedlings on the street for people to take as they wished. I later designed and painted a more eye-catching sign,” Dworschak said.

 The timing of her project could not have been better. “Seeds have always been about abundance and hope, wishing for a better tomorrow.”

Instagram updates from @madness.design.atl and passersby resulted in a steady stream of seeds and seedlings being shared with neighbors. Building connections with the community has been beneficial.

“This little program I’ve started made me feel better. I love that I can help others too,” Dworschak said.

Sowing the Seeds of Cheer

A firm believer that it’s impossible to spend a few minutes in a garden and not be amazed, Dworschak hoped to spread some much-needed joy. “Anyone who’s even just a little bit of a gardener and going through something knows there is unending poetry from things coming up from the ground, flowers blooming and food coming off of a plant.”

“We may not have the most abundant gardens, and we’re all scared, but we have something in common now,” she said. Neighbors are posting pictures of their own gardens and plants that have blossomed as a result of her giveaways.

Dworschak responds with pointers on how to care for them. She has received some very kind notes and is routinely tagged on Instagram by excited neighbors thanking her for the basil, dill, okra and kohlrabi plants they scored from her little stand.

What’s Growing in the Garden

“This is my private growing area,” Dworschak said, pointing to her front porch covered in baby sprouts waiting to be given away and planted.

The interplanting of vegetables with flowers makes a cheery garden in a walled front yard. This year, she has enjoyed planting what’s easy and fun to grow.

Nasturtium: “One of my favorite things this year is this cool-looking flower. It grows like a bunch of lily pads sticking up out of the ground and has orange flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are edible. It’s great in salads. It’s got a spicy, peppery flavor, like arugula.”

Better Boy Tomatoes: “My grandmother grew these when she lived here in the 1960s. She swears by them. They’re very conventional but how can you say no to grandma?”

Roma and cherry tomatoes

Okra: “I’m excited about my okra. I was captivated by the story: okra was brought to America by slaves who had it braided into their hair as sort of a food insurance policy for when they got to the new land.”

Okra. the southern staple

Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans: “They are an heirloom variety brought from Tennessee all the way to Oklahoma by the Cherokee Nation during the Trail of Tears. They were a promise for tomorrow.”

Sunflower: “I grew that monster from a little seed. It’s bigger than I am.”

Cosmos flowers: “They’re wonderful and prolifically self-seeding. If you plant them, expect them to fall on the ground and make new ones next year. Which is great, if that’s what you want.”

Mulberry tree: “You can see the ground is littered with mulberries. They kind of taste like blackberry’s poor cousin came to town. They’re a little milder.”

Mulberry Jam, need we say more? Yum!
Mulberry Jam

Families are enticed to bring buckets and pick as many mulberries as they can. Dworschak’s front and back yards are covered in the berries that fall to the ground from two towering trees. When folks wonder if they should collect so many, she assures them there are millions for the taking.

“They taste great if you make an easy jam. I didn’t even use pectin. I just put 6 cups mulberries, ¾ cup of sugar and a little bit of water on the stove. You cook it on low for a long time. It condenses, and you have an amazing jelly. I put it on top of ice cream and Oreos. It’s awesome,” she beamed.


Home Depot or ACE Hardware are where Dworschak buys her seeds when she’s not shopping her favorite online heirloom store, Baker Creek. “Any real gardener knows that the best source of seeds is other gardeners; it’s a networking community,” she chuckled.

Perennials on the property, like cannas and irises, keep dividing. “I’ve been able to thin them out and give them away as well,” Dworschak said. Her neighbors were pleased to give the tropical-looking plants new homes.

Mission Green Thumb

She loves demonstrating how easy it is to grow seeds from home: “Take toilet paper tubes, put them upright in a big salad container and fill with soil. Then soak dry chickpeas and kidney beans from the grocery store for 24 hours, and they sprout. Plant one in each tube, and in 3 to 5 days you should have seedlings! This is a kind of magic!”

Food Resources

Dworschak fosters a sense of unity with her Victory Garden effort, but it’s also about contributing to food security. Whether you need help or would like to contribute during COVID-19, there are great resources for free and reduced-price food, grocery delivery and farmers’ markets. Visit madness.design/COVID19 to learn more.

Follow her on Instagram @madness.design.atl where Dworschak will continue to post updates about new seed and plant drops. She posts in advance, so if there’s something you’d like to pick up, you’ll have notice: “Tomorrow at 8:30am, lots of kale and bell peppers,” for example.

Insider tip:She usually saves one of everything that she puts out for the inevitable person who arrives just a little too late. “It’s nice to be able to make someone’s day,” Dworschak said.

Mad Dworschak’s ever growing website chock full of victory gardening photographs and growing tips
The Graphic Designer

I’ve planted the seed (wink) in Dworschak’s mind about creating a Peachtree Corners Neighborhoods Map. You may have seen her coveted urban chic Atlanta Neighborhoods Maps. We should have one for Peachtree Corners, don’t you agree?

700Mad Dworschak

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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LifeLine Animal Project Selected for Nationwide Program to Transform U.S. Animal Sheltering System



LifeLine Animal Project has been selected as one of 12 national shelters to be part of Human Animal Support Services (HASS), a new national coalition pilot program creating community-based solutions to animal sheltering and pet ownership and transforming the shelter system through innovative programs and services. HASS builds off of support that animal shelters experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Organizations across the country, including LifeLine Animal Project, which manages Animal Services in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, were embraced by their communities who fostered pets, adopted, helped lost or found animals get back to their homes and identified new resources to keep people and their pets together. 

HASS pilot centers will provide a range of services and solutions to support their communities. These include remote services like veterinary telehealth and text support, lost animal return-to-owner initiatives, foster care programs, behavioral and training services, and much more. 

The following progressive, lifesaving organizations were selected based on their demonstrated track records of successfully implementing positive changes for pets in their communities and shelters:  LifeLine Animal Project (GA), Cabot Animal Services (AR), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control (NC), El Paso Animal Services (TX), Fresno Humane Animal Services (CA), Greenville County Animal Care (SC), Humane Rescue Alliance (DC & NJ), Kansas City Pet Project (MO), Los Angeles Animal Services (CA), Oakland Animal Services (CA), Pima Animal Care Center (AZ) and San Diego Humane Society (CA).

“We are honored to be part of this collaboration of innovative shelters to work toward an organizational model that has goals so closely aligned with our community vision,” says LifeLine CEO Rebecca Guinn. “I’m confident that this initiative will help pave the way for a new model of animal sheltering in the U.S.” 

“We’re bringing thought leaders and experts in fields like human social work and public health alongside animal welfare, researchers to create the community animal support centers of the future,” says Lisa LaFontaine, Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, DC and a member of the HASS executive leadership team. “The impacts of COVID-19 have accelerated our efforts to modernize animal services and we now must dedicate the immediate energy of our movement to accomplish our urgent goal.”

HASS is led by American Pets Alive! and powered by partners including Maddie’s Fund, South Fork Foundation, Michelson Found Animals Foundation, and Petfinder. For more information on LifeLine’s HASS initiatives, please visit LifeLineAnimal.org/human-animal-support-services.  For more information about HASS, go to humananimalsupportservices.org

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City Government

City Announces Town Green Events to Begin in July



With the state’s new directives that lift many of its previous restrictions and following Gwinnett County’s lead, the city has announced it will begin its 2020 event schedule in July. The events include a new event, a Night Market on Friday, July 10, followed by Flicks on the Green on July 11, Classic Sports on the Screen, July 18 and a live concert featuring Electric Avenue, a 1980’s pop tribute band, on July 25.

To ensure everyone’s safety, the city has incorporated some modifications: Six-foot social
distancing and face masks will be required.

The Night Market; held 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., features local farmers with fruits, vegetables,
gardeners with fresh flowers and herbs, and edible home goods from desserts and breads to
homemade sauces, jellies and soaps for sale. The booths will be spaced to ensure all attendees
are able to maintain social distancing while they shop.

Attendees will also enjoy live music provided by 42 Coldplay Tribute band.

42 Coldplay Tribute Band

For lawn events, such as those that feature watching movies and concerts, large white circles
will be painted on the Town Green’s grass for use by families and groups so all may enjoy their
time together while maintaining social distancing. The circles will accommodate family and
groups and will be spaced six feet apart.

For concerts, the city is incorporating a no-cost reservation system in order to maintain safety
and crowd control. Space will be limited, and reservations will be taken on a “first come-first
served” basis. The no-cost reservation system for concerts will be activated in mid-July.
What a difference a year makes

After kicking off its inaugural event season in April 2019 which, by every measure, was a rousing
success, the anticipated 2020 season was delayed due to the state’s mandatory shelter-in-place
order that began in March. Some of the April, May and June events have been rescheduled for
later in the year.

The city is pleased to offer a number of favorites from last year including its big concert series
that features Electric Avenue, July 25; Texas Flood, Aug. 29; Drivin N Cryin, Sept. 26 and Marcy
on Oct 17.

This year’s list of special events includes:
Derby Party: Sept. 5, 6 – 9 p.m.
Bark in the Park: Sept. 14, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Harvest Fest: Oct. 24, 4 – 7 p.m.
Veterans Day: Nov. 11, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Holiday Glow on the Green: Dec. 4, 6 – 9 p.m.

The city’s revised 2020 Calendar of Events is available here. It is also accessible on the city’s
website under the “Town Center Events” tab. Please check the city calendar regularly for
updated event information.

Please note, the safety modifications referenced in the second paragraph (i.e. mandatory face
masks and six-foot social distancing), are subject to change as the COVID-19 public health risk

Source: Press Release from the City of Peachtree Corners

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Peachtree Station Community: A multi-part series on communities in Peachtree Corners



The Fourth of July neighborhood parade (courtesy of Judy Griggs and the Home Owners Association)

The largest community in Peachtree Corners boasts 717 homes and a stunning Swim and Tennis Club. With everything going on in the world right now, a strong sense of community has probably become the most important way to get through this. When all we have is to be at home surrounded by our neighbors, they have grown to become an extended part of our family.

Residents of the Peachtree Station community are longing for the days when they could gather for their many events at the Swim and Tennis Club, enjoy the pool on a hot summer’s day or catch up at Atlanta Bread Company. It won’t be long now, but for the time being, all they have is each other. And with neighbors like these, it’s easy to get through these difficult times.

A Place to Call Home

Entryway to the Swim and Tennis Club (Photo by Libby Kwok)

“Home” is the best word to describe this community, according to Judy Griggs, reminding us of modern-day Judy Garland. A Navy brat, she moved over 21 times before finally deciding there was no place like Peachtree Station. She and her family moved to the community in 1982 and haven’t moved again since.

Now Griggs is the president of the non-mandatory HOA which about 65% of the community belongs to. They service the entrances which now adorn the names of the 2020 class graduates, as well as host Spring or Halloween parties for the kids. They also provide “welcome baskets” to new residents.

Not only are the residents pampered from the moment they turn the key in the lock, but they also have the advantages of being part of a “COPS” neighborhood. Peachtree Station has a special partnership with the local authorities to keep an open line of communication and keep the neighborhood safe. They also have a “Block Captain” system where a volunteer from each block will look out for about 7-9 neighbors on their street.

“One of the things that makes Peachtree Station special is the civic leaders we have living in our community,” Griggs boasts. The residents are actively involved in the rezoning that has taken place in Peachtree Corners over the past 30 years, including the establishment of Simpsonwood Park.

Griggs recalls how the neighborhood was a construction zone when they moved in in the 80s, and that each cul-de-sac can be traced back to the community’s humble roots of belonging to the Medlock’s farm.

Ben Kwok, gives a thumb-up approval to where he lives. (Photo by Libby Kwok)

Growing with the Neighborhood
Weare Gratwick, who moved into Peachtree Station in the 90s, recalls a different scene moving in. “The neighborhood didn’t look much different than it does now, just shorter trees. But there was a mixture of folks who were original to the neighborhood, and transplants from other states.”

Gratwick had a 10-month-old when he moved into Peachtree Station, and he followed the clubs and organizations of his children all the way up to a City Council seat. First, he coached baseball in Chastain Park, and soon became heavily involved in Norcross baseball. He became President of the Norcross baseball league in 2003, as well as serve as treasurer for the Soccer Club.

By the time he became a part of the Peachtree Corners Civic Association, all of the kids he watched grow up were now the same adults who asked him to run for City Council. He recalls that even the teenager who babysat his children was now grown up and living in Peachtree Station herself.

Senior graduating sign at the entrance of the subdivision. (Photo by Libby Kwok)

Gratwick mused that since the Great Recession, it became cheaper for residents to keep their homes in Peachtree Station rather than downsizing once they had an empty nest. “We now know several families in the community who all moved in to be with each other rather than leave.”

Swim and Tennis Club
But the real gem of Peachtree Station is the Swim and Tennis Club. Savored only by the residents, it sits picturesque near one of the entrances of the community. Even though there are no children laughing and splashing in the water currently, Gratwick reminisced about memorable events like the Easter egg roll or Fourth of July parties that once filled the club with joyous laughter.

The swimming pool area. (Photo by Libby Kwok)

Even though the pool is empty, the residents can still be seen practicing their serve on one of the eight tennis courts located in Peachtree Station. Nancy couldn’t help but gush over the successes of their many tennis teams, or how any player can find a good place to practice no matter their level of proficiency.

One resident said she moved to the neighborhood specifically for their tennis program. “The program is even better now because of our awesome pros!  Because we have such a large neighborhood, we were able to field teams at all levels and not just lump players into a mid-level team. Our daughters have very fond memories of learning to play tennis, playing on the playground and swimming on the swim team.”
The family-oriented atmosphere is one that could not be matched. According to one resident, the athleticism from neighborhood tennis leagues are what contributes to making Peachtree Station so special.

“The tennis program is one of the best in the area with our great coaches on staff who are always planning clinics, plus team and individual lessons. This is a family-oriented, friendly, athletic neighborhood – I love seeing all ages out walking, running, riding bikes, pushing strollers, walking dogs and — most importantly – carrying their tennis bags to the courts!”

Neighbors and Friends
Peachtree Station is not only a community that loves their athletic programs, but they truly care about their fellow neighbors. One resident spoke of a troubling time in her life, and how the residents rallied around her in her time of need.

“I gave birth to twins several years ago. My mom came to help but she couldn’t stay long. I was completely overwhelmed trying to figure out how to take care of everything. My amazing neighbors set up a meal train for me and my family. Several days a week for several weeks, neighbors would bring a meal so I wouldn’t have to prepare dinner that day. It was a lifesaver and helped me get to know and love my neighbors even more!”

But the most remarkable thing of all about Peachtree Station is that instead leaving the nest after their families are grown, a lot of community residents simply choose to move other family members in instead. Community is so important at a time like this, and if the residents haven’t already moved their own families in, they simply transformed their current neighbors into their family instead. ■

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