Amanda Levesque, left, and Clare Hanrahan check on plants
at the Elder & Sage Community Garden, 33-35 Page Ave., downtown.
Planking and raised beds make the garden accessible to those in wheelchairs.
These two friendly words just seem to go together: community garden.
After all, you get two things out of it — community with like-minded people or neighbors and fresh food or flowers.
The City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability supports opportunities for people to gather and grow their own food through its Asheville Edibles program. Launched in 2017, the community gardens component of the program offers plots on City property for residents — a neighborhood or organization — to grow local produce. There is no fee to lease the land, though there is an agreement that needs to be signed with the City.
Of the four sites available, one site was adopted and quickly thrived. Stop by to see the Elder & Sage community garden at 33-35 Page Ave., downtown, a welcoming space full of creative containers, pollinating flowers, culinary herbs and organically grown vegetables.
At least 38 gardeners participate, said Clare Hanrahan, Elder & Sage garden organizer. And there is a range of participation. “Some have one tomato, others a full box,” she said. “Some prefer flowers, others help with our communal herb bed.”
Many of the gardeners come from the nearby Battery Park and Vanderbilt buildings, flanking either side of the garden. Tourists and downtown workers often stop by to chat. All around, the garden has helped strengthen the sense of community for the participants. “The sense of community develops kind of like a community of plants,” Hanrahan said.
New for 2018, the City was able to provide a waterline to the garden. The gardeners pay for the water.
There’s room to grow
The City continues to accept applications for the community gardens program. Three more sites available to apply for at this time:
- Carrier Park – 220 Amboy Road
- Murray Hill – Bartlett Street
- Weaver Park – 200 Murdock Ave.
Groups that apply now could have time to establish a fall garden.
New this year, Bountiful Cities has contracted with the City to manage this program. Please contact Isa Whitaker by email or phone at 828-257-4000 with Bountiful Cities for more information on how to participate.
The Community Gardens program, Adopt-A-Spot and Urban Agriculture leases are all part of the City’s Food Policy Action Plan, created by City Council resolution with the goal of encouraging partnerships for food production by identifying under-utilized City-owned land for lease. The Food Policy Action Plan also supports Council’s Vision 2036 goal of a well-planned and livable community where “parks, greenways, community gardens, and edible landscapes are abundant throughout the city.”
UNC-TV recently filmed a segment about the Elder & Sage Community Garden. View it here.