The Swannanoa Community Garden, sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS), continues to be a place of hope and refuge for those who work the soil as well as those who share in the bounty of fresh vegetables that the garden produces each year. For garden managers, Maureen Dillow, Sandy Drake, and Kara Dillow, the garden is truly a labor of love. They’re continuing to volunteer their time to keep the garden growing, while practicing extreme caution and social distancing! Already this spring, the garden soil has been tilled, and beds nourished and brought back to life. Row after row of early spring crops, like kale, spinach, and beans, are kicking off the growing season.
The Swannanoa Community Garden is a charitable garden and part of the WNC “Gardens that Give” network. Garden manager Maureen Dillow is particularly excited about this year’s concentration on root crops, which store for longer periods of time and are ideal for donating to local food banks, such as Bounty & Soul.
This season, manager Kara Dillow begins her fourth year of growing flowers at the Swannanoa Community Garden in support of the nonprofit Power Flower Project. Kara is passionate about seed gathering, and strives every year to increase the garden’s self-sufficiency. She looks forward to an abundant flower and herb harvest this year. Classics like zinnia, sunflowers, and dahlias will share the garden space with more unique bloomers, including amaranth, hollyhock and nasturtium. The herb production will concentrate on WNC natives, along with aromatics and traditional medicinals. Flowers are donated weekly throughout the community. Extra bouquets will be left in shaded buckets under the garden pavilion for community pick up. Flowers are also pick-your-own, based on availability. Help yourselves! Please see the Swannanoa Community Garden Facebook page for weekly updates and guidelines.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s likely that the Swannanoa Community Garden will lose much of its volunteer power this summer. The garden relies heavily on large groups coming from Ridgecrest and other local summer camps that may not be in session. As a result of this anticipated loss of volunteer labor, garden manager Maureen Dillow sees the garden’s focus shifting more towards plant quality, rather than the quantity of production. “This is an opportunity to work on the health of our soil and build a big store of compost for the rest of the year,” Maureen said.
In the meantime, manager Sandy Drake will continue to “feed” the garden on social media. Check the Facebook page for informative articles and updates on garden happenings. For more information about the garden and volunteer opportunities, please reach out through the Facebook page or contact Maureen Dillow at 828-713-8836. The Swannanoa Community Garden is located on Clover Lane off Lake Eden Road just west of Owen High School.