The Swannanoa Community Garden, located off Lake Eden Road, has had a successful growing season despite the lack of rain for much of the summer. Some of the garden’s highest yielding crops have been peas, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and squash. Over 700 pounds of produce has been harvested so far, and there are still more peppers, squash, okra, watermelon and pumpkins on the way.
The Swannanoa Community Garden, sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS), is a “Garden That Gives.” The garden is managed and maintained entirely by volunteers, and all of the produce grown in the garden is donated to organizations that serve our community. The majority of this year’s harvest was donated to Bounty and Soul, a nonprofit based in Black Mountain that provides fresh food, and health and wellness resources to our neighbors in need. Bounty and Soul distributes free produce through weekly open “markets” in Black Mountain and Swannanoa. To learn more about Bounty and Soul and the services it provides in our community, please visit www.bountyandsoul.org.
The Swannanoa Community Garden had help from lots of enthusiastic volunteers this summer, with close to 300 volunteer hours contributed by local groups. Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain sent six groups of energetic middle school and high school kids in June and July. The young people rolled up their sleeves and dug right in to a variety of garden chores, including harvesting, mulching, composting, weeding, mowing and planting. In August, fifteen freshmen volunteers from Warren Wilson College helped weed and clear beds, and plant fall crops.
This summer also saw the inauguration of a new program for young growers, ages 2-9. Each of the seven children participating in the program had a garden plot and received a weekly lesson on plant life cycles, garden chores and healthy eating. The young gardeners enjoyed “taste testing” a variety of vegetables from the garden.
The Swannanoa Community Garden has recently expanded to include three new 15′ by 20′ “lasagna” beds. These no-till, no-dig beds are built by layering organic materials that break down over time to create a rich soil. A group of middle school students from The Learning Community School at Camp Rockmont will be working in the garden on a weekly basis this fall and winter to help prepare the lasagna beds for spring planting. The students will also help with growing and maintaining plants in the garden’s new hoop house throughout the winter.
For more information about the Swannanoa Community Garden, and to learn how you can help, please visit the garden on Facebook or call 581-9020.