The first annual Organic Growers School Harvest Conference took place Friday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 6, at Warren Wilson College and A-B Tech. The workshops guided participants from the active growing season, when produce and food are abundant, toward the more barren winter months when fresh garden products dwindle.
More and more of Asheville’s downtown dwellers are finding creative ways to use their urban spaces for growing food. Russell Thomas, owner of the Flatiron Building, tells Xpress how he and his staff are converting the rooftop of the historic building into a hydroponic and raised-bed garden that is a source of both veggies and renewable energy for the building and its businesses.
Organic Growers School will hold its first annual Harvest Conference at A-B Tech on Saturday, Sept. 6. The event strives to give urban farmers, homesteaders and backyard growers successful tips for fall and winter growing through workshops.
Many gardens in Asheville rest on public property that was once overgrown and unused. These spaces have been transformed but the methods that brought the transformation sometimes differ. Some gardeners in Asheville have taken their spots through guerrilla gardening. In some ways it’s comparable to being a graffiti artist or even a squatter, but some say it’s preferable to jumping through the hoops of bureaucracy.
The premise of a seed library is relatively simple — patrons of the library “check out” their selections to grow the season’s crops and then return usable seeds from their harvest at the end of the season. The goal is to provide a free source of locally adapted crops and contribute to the biodiversity of local agriculture. Ideally, as the seed library continues to operate, the number of seeds and varieties available will continue to increase.
It’s a cycle known as aquaponics, which uses dual-tanked plant-and-fish habitats to create a symbiotic environment and a sustainable system that mimics the natural world. One tank holds the fish; the other, the plants. A pump flows water between the two, aerating the water in the process. Along with hydroponics — a similar idea that focuses solely on raising vegetation — it’s a creating an alternative to traditional in-soil farming.
The Shiloh community celebrated their annual community garden potluck and summer celebration on Saturday, July 27. This year’s gathering was of particular significance to the community, as it marked the dedication of the garden’s new amphitheatre and outdoor kitchen.
In 1790, 90 percent of Americans were farmers. Today that figure boils down to less than 1 percent. The change is particularly noticeable in the South, which up until the 1950s, was a largely agrarian society. Now, some are calling for a rebuilding and supporting of a locally-focused food system — which used to be prevalent in Appalachia.
A mosaic of city roof top gardens? Vacant lots that create jobs? A backyard garden for folks without backyards? It’s all part of the small-scale urban farm model many in Asheville are striving for — where every tiny space is being utilized.