DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — DeKalb County officials held a groundbreaking ceremony on April 19, 2021, celebrating plans for a new state-of-the-art site designed to transform youth and engage the community. The more than 50 acres at the former Bransby Outdoor YMCA in Lithonia is the new home of the Education, Market, Botanicals, Agriculture and Recreational Center (E.M.B.A.R.C.) Community Youth Farm.

This is the first of four phases of the $1.4 million project. “This project got started one day when a group of youth came into my office, along with Ms. Edna Lora with an organization called PAHL,” said District 7 Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, referring to Partners in Action for Healthy Living. “We grow to give,” said PAHL Garden Lead Taffany Hyatt. “Our mission is to promote environmental stewardship, self-sustainability, as well as proactive healthy living.”

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The farm will include a greenhouse, country store, hen house and interactive learning stations. Multiple county agencies and officials got involved and contributed to the funding. Cochran-Johnson says the plan of action is now becoming a reality. “We will have a state-of-the-art, state-approved test kitchen, so that the children can cook, so that they can ‘can,’” she said.

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Youth can also look forward to rock climbing, kayaking and other activities on the site, which is also home to the county’s largest wheelchair-accessible pool. “This is further evidence that, in the midst of crisis, we can still progress our community. We can continue to encourage and inspire and support our young people,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.

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They expect to complete all of the phases by late 2023.