Members of Elder & Sage: Uptown Asheville’s Senior Gardeners have long craved space to plant more flowers, herbs and vegetables. Lacking other options, the intrepid growers made do with tree pits, pavement cracks and small planters scattered around city-owned property at Haywood Street and Page Avenue for the past two years. But their hearts’ desire — a garden space at 33-35 Page Ave. (the former site of the Asheville Sister Cities building) — is finally coming to pass through the community gardens initiative of the Edible Asheville program.
On June 7, volunteers with Asheville Youth Missions, a service program that connects youth groups with service opportunities in the city, pitched in at the site to erect a portable shade structure, plant seeds and prepare soil for new planting boxes and containers. About 15 teens from Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., participated in the work. The previous day, said coordinator Naomi Rabago, the group had prepared a meal at the Haywood Street Congregation and worked to repair a retaining wall at the Veterans Restoration Quarters on Tunnel Road.
Battery Park resident Clare Hanrahan serves as the Page Avenue garden’s coordinator. She greeted passersby and pointed out the donations that were beginning to fill the site: hand-crafted planting boxes by Coleman Smith, soil delivered by the Warren Wilson College environmental and social justice crew and a pickle bucket from Burgerworx. Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell stopped by to check out the activity and promised Hanrahan he’d deliver a couple of potted tomato plants by the end of the week.
Bothwell said the logistics of providing water to the downtown lot had complicated efforts to get the garden growing, but said he believed the city had committed to installing a spigot. Until that’s in place, he said, the senior gardeners are “using a bucket brigade” to water the plants.