Workshop addresses local food security and disaster resilience

FOOD FOR ALL: Volunteers with Asheville GreenWorks install a production orchard and community green space in a vacant lot in Hillcrest Apartments. An upcoming workshop on food security and resilience will explore ways the community can be prepared for disasters. Photo by Pat Barcas

The city of Asheville and local nonprofit organizations will team up to host a Food Security and Disaster Resiliency Workshop on Saturday, May 20. The free event will teach community members skills needed to thrive in the face of a natural disaster and will examine the ways Buncombe County can become more self-sustaining in case of a disruption to commercial food production.

The workshop will be held 8:30 a.m.-noon at the Lenior-Rhyne University board room.

“This isn’t just about crisis,” says Jillian Wolf, a co-facilitator of the event. “We used to be much better prepared for emergencies before industrialization. Our generation has become more complacent because things are now delivered right to our doors.”

Food systems are easily disrupted by climate change-related events such as drought, floods and fires that can cause fluctuations in population sizes or food prices, Wolf says. Through the workshop, she hopes to spark a larger conversation about the region’s capability to handle such shocks.

“Historically, communities were comprised of local networks upon networks so that food could be produced and consumed locally utilizing community resources,” she says. “We want to see our networking here grow to that extent, so that if folks are affected by an emergency situation, they will have resources to lean on for food.”

A series of panelists, including representatives from MANNA Food Bank, the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council, the City of Asheville Office of Sustainability, Bountiful Cities and the Asheville Buncombe Community Gardens network, will each speak for 15 minutes about disaster resiliency on a countywide level. The panelists will be followed by an hour-long presentation from the director of Living Web Farms on what people can do to promote sustainable food practices in their own homes.

Topics of discussion will include what assets the city and county can improve upon, the need to have networks in place to ensure a diversity of crops, seed saving and a close analysis of a recent public survey regarding a new food action plan.

“I’m hoping participants will have an understanding of the larger picture, and if they are interested and able to, get involved with an organization or nonprofit,” Wolf says. “But I really hope that people also learn about what they can do at home. It would be great if everyone could leave this event and grow something, even if it’s just growing a tomato in a pot.”

The workshop is sponsored by AmeriCorps Project Conserve, a national service program founded in 2004 as an initiative of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy to respond to Western North Carolina’s growing conservation needs.

The Food Security and Disaster Resiliency workshop will take place 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 20, at the Lenoir-Rhyne University boardroom, 36 Montford Ave. Admission is free. For more information, contact Jillian Wolf at or Sara DeFosset at

About Molly Horak
Molly is a sophomore Journalism and Political Science student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is spending her summer working with the Mountain Xpress, exploring in the mountains, and drinking excessive amounts of coffee.

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