Food for thought
Community gardens can play a powerful, multifaceted role in nourishing individuals as well as the neighborhoods they live in. From the Ground to the Plate, an African-American-sponsored food forum, aims to promote those benefits while shining the spotlight on one such garden in particular. The Shiloh Community Association, in partnership with The Bountiful Cities Project and city government, will host the March 15 event. Norma Baynes, who grew up in Shiloh and is a founding member of the community association, is also part of the core group that tends the area’s community garden. Established several years ago through a partnership with the Bountiful Cities Project, the garden provides area residents with a variety of fresh, homegrown vegetables.
Many Shiloh youth have been drawn to the garden, notes Baynes. “The children are learning where the food comes from—that it doesn’t just come from the grocery store,” she says. And for the past two years, the group has blocked off the streets and held community workdays, which also function as neighborhood gatherings.
Shiloh isn’t the only predominantly African-American community in Asheville that’s developing a community garden. At the forum, speakers who are involved with the Burton Street garden and the Pisgah View Apartments Community Peace Garden will come together with Shiloh residents to share their experiences. Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy will make an opening statement, and gardening experts and health professionals will also be on hand to provide everything from hands-on growing advice to information on the link between health and diet. The discussion will also touch on larger issues: growing your own food to increase self-sufficiency and the role of community gardening in supporting food security. Organizers hope to make From the Ground to the Plate an annual event.
The forum is slated for Saturday, March 15, starting at 3 p.m. in the Stephens-Lee Auditorium, 30 George Washington Carver Place in Asheville. It is free and open to the public.
Last week’s Green Scene noted that the area’s solar companies have attracted the attention of AdvantageWest, a regional economic-development group bent on establishing a green-business cluster in Western North Carolina. But visionaries in search of alternative energy sources for our region are also looking to the wind.
“In North Carolina, we have a great potential [for wind power] in the coastal region and in the mountains,” says Brent Summerville, a renewable-energy engineer at Appalachian State University’s Energy Center. “The Department of Energy sees North Carolina as a high priority for getting going with wind-energy development. It’s really a fast-growing industry in most of the United States. North Carolina has high potential, but we don’t have any large-scale projects on the ground.”
To generate more discussion about it, the North Carolina Wind Working Group will host a public forum on wind energy on Friday, March 7, at the N.C. Arboretum. The meeting will bring together local-government representatives, environmental groups, businesses and residents to ask questions, voice concerns or offer support for wind-energy development in the mountains.
“Since most of our wind resources in the mountains are along the ridges, the one main impact is that you can see them,” notes Summerville. “So that definitely draws some concerns.”
A panel of environmental and technical experts, ranging from Audubon Society representatives to wind developers, will field questions from the public and give presentations on the possible costs and benefits of wind power. Strong proponent Bob Leker, who manages the State Energy Office’s renewable-energy program, will also be on hand.
The event will be held Friday, March 7, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. For directions, visit the Web site at www.ncarboretum.org, or call (828) 665-2492.