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The Swannanoa Community Garden is a place of serenity, peace and beauty, but if you sit for a few moments under the garden pavilion, you’ll soon become aware that the garden is really not so quiet after all. Nature is alive and buzzing! This time of year, the garden is teeming with activity — birds are in constant pursuit of worms and bugs around the mulch pile; butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds flutter among the flowers and vegetables; and nearby goats munch busily on the grass, creating a calm, rain-like hum. Children who come to the community garden have claimed that, if you listen closely, you can hear the tomatoes and squash growing!
The garden is a treat for the eyes as well, from the beautiful lush foliage of the vegetable beds to the brilliant and abundant colors in the three different flower beds. The garden’s most successful crops this summer have been a variety of beans, peppers, and squash. Volunteers have recently begun to harvest potatoes, tomatoes, and okra as well. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and varieties of winter squash, including pumpkin and butternut squash, will be ready soon.
The Swannanoa Community Garden is a “Garden That Gives”; most of the vegetables grown in the garden are donated to Bounty and Soul, which holds two weekly open markets, offering free produce to the local community. For the first time this year, the garden also has its own roadside farm stand, where passersby can help themselves to the garden’s overflow of fresh-picked produce.
The flower gardens, maintained by grower Kara Dillow, provide an assortment of native and specialty flowers, echinacea, black-eyed-Susan, sunflowers, hibiscus, hollyhock, zinnia, and more. For 2021, Kara has added rows of herbs and edible plants, including basil, amaranth, nasturtium, parsley, and cilantro. Stop by the garden on Fridays for “Free Farm Fresh Flower Day,” running late morning until arrangements are gone. Donations are always welcome!
Also new for 2021 was the Garden Craft Camp for kids, hosted by garden committee member Sandy Drake. The camp took place weekly, every Thursday morning, under the garden pavilion. Each camp session started off with a nature-based lesson and then a follow-up hands-on craft. This free program was made available to local children ages 5 – 10.
Volunteer help is essential to keep the garden running year after year. A special thanks goes out to the many young people from MFUGE camp at Ridgecrest Conference Center, who donated countless hours to the garden this summer. They were sorely missed in 2020, when all the Ridgecrest camps were canceled due to the pandemic.
More volunteer help is always needed. Please send an email to Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS) at SwannanoaFANS@gmail.org if you have an hour or two to spare (kids are welcome, too!), or would like to join the garden committee. Visit the Swannanoa Community Garden Facebook page to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the garden, and to read weekly gardening articles and tips. You may also contact Maureen Dillow, garden co-manager, at 828-713-8836, to visit, volunteer, arrange a tour, or make a donation of money or supplies.
The Swannanoa Community Garden, and the farm and flower stand, are located on Clover Lane in Swannanoa, off Lake Eden Rd. (turn left just before the entrance to Owen High School).
Kids work on their projects at the Garden Craft Camp, held this summer under the pavilion at the Swannanoa Community Garden