As you drive up to Enka High School you’ll see a horseshoe design of flowers that marks the spot where an expected 500-600 people will soon begin their tour of seven local gardens.
On Saturday, June 13, Enka high will serve as the kick off location for the Explore.Learn.Grow garden tour hosted by the Buncombe County Master Gardeners. The volunteer organization aims to educate and assist the public with horticultural topics through lectures, workshops and garden-based assistance. The Master Gardeners have held biennial garden tours since 2007 as a public outreach program co-sponsored by N.C. State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Buncombe County.
The 2015 tour will visit gardens in and around Biltmore Lake and Candler. At each location, volunteers will provide information on how these gardens were created and how to build a similar project in your own yard. Topics covered in the tour include growing vegetables in raised beds, capturing and utilizing storm water runoff, attracting and controlling wildlife, propagation, beekeeping, and how to grow in greenhouses.
The kick off location for the tour is always a garden supported by the Master Gardeners through grants and volunteer work, says Mary Koppenheffer, chair of the communications committee for the Buncombe County extension of the Master Gardeners. For Enka High, that grant meant an opportunity at renewed growth — literally.
Though Enka has had a school garden for some time, things really started to flourish once counselor Abbey Gelineau applied for the Master Gardeners grant in April of 2014. The grant came along with the support of a few hundred volunteers including Master Gardeners, parents and community members who worked on the garden along with the students. Funds from the grant were used to purchase plants and gardening equipment such as wheelbarrows, watering cans, soil and more.
Enka High now has several gardens place around its campus — surrounding classrooms, bordering sidewalks and lining windows that student look out from as they walk through the hallways. Several large gardening plots filled with herbs and vegetables flourish outside of the greenhouses and chicken coop.
The ability to once again have a garden space will greatly help the students in the Occupational Course of Study program and horticulture and agricultural production classes by allowing them to learn through hands-on activities, Gelineau says. “I think it’s great that we have this Ag program to be able to tie a project like this into curriculum,” Gelineau notes. “So many kids learn hands on. [This] is not like a PowerPoint.”
Though school is out for the summer, the Master Gardeners will use the education garden to teach tour attendees about raising chickens, growing in greenhouses and using raised vegetable beds. Koppenheffer adds that each garden site will also offer additional ways to learn.
Tickets will be available online through Wednesday, June 10 for $15 or can be purchase at the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension office at 94 Coxe Ave. Tickets may also be purchased at Enka High on the day of the tour for $20.
Additional information about the Buncombe CountyMaster Gardeners and the Explore.Learn.Grow tour can be found through their website.