By Shelley-Ann Williams
Sustainable Lakewood, EcoAddendum (Eco-A), and Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith are hosting the first annual Atlanta Kudzu Festival in South Bend Park on Saturday, September 24. The festival will help raise funds toward restoring plant life that is native to the park’s forest as well as clearing walking and bike trails.
Kudzu is often referred to as “the vine that ate the South” and it is one of the many invasive plants threatening to overtake South Bend’s 60-acre forest. According to Tina Arnold, executive director of Sustainable Lakewood, the presence of such plants will throw the park’s ecosystem out of balance.
“We have our native forest that’s being smothered by kudzu, English ivy and privet, just to name a few. Once it has been killed off by these invasive vines, the animals that make their homes there will be pushed out,” said Arnold.
Without proper maintenance, Arnold fears that Lakewood Heights residents and the surrounding communities will lose this valuable restorative space.
“South Bend Park is a gem hidden in the city. The same recreation space that we think we need to drive 45 minutes outside of Atlanta for is right here just seven minutes away from downtown,” she added.
Kathryn Kolb, director of EcoAddendum, agrees that South Bend is a wonderful feature of the community.
“I personally care about the park because it’s one of many parks in Atlanta that retained high-quality pieces of the original forests,” said Kolb.
Arnold, Kolb, and their team, along with the support of Councilwoman Smith, are using the festival to approach this issue in a positive way, by educating attendees on creative uses for kudzu after removal.
The event will be held from 9:00am to 6:00pm, and general admission is free. Activities include workshops for kudzu crafts and removal led by craftsman Cleve Philips as well as Eco-A. Participants will learn how to make candy, paper, and interesting crafts such as baskets. Eco-A will lead guided nature hikes to explore the park’s beautiful forest, highlighting features such as South River and the exceptionally large sycamore tree. Attendees also can enjoy various vendors and informative displays from Atlanta’s green community. This is a family-friendly event with all ages welcomed to attend.
South Bend Park is located on 1955 Compton Drive Southeast. Volunteers can still help the team by contacting Tina Arnold at email@example.com. Tickets for workshops are available via Eventbrite on Atlanta Kudzu Festival’s profile; however, space is limited. For more descriptions on the activities offered, please visit the festival page: sustainablelakewood.org.
Sustainable Lakewood Co-Hosts Fundraiser for South Bend Park
By Shelley-Ann Williams