It’s bittersweet to reference Tom Petty on this, his birthday, to introduce the activities of the past couple months here in the High Country. Our partners at Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture organized a tour of gardens for some interested parties from nearby Yancey County. The tour included Hospitality House, the school garden at Parkway Elementary School, the child development garden at Appalachian State University, and the Food Hub. The group from Yancey County had learned about the work that Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture through a shared resource and wanted to see firsthand how a community of gardens is actually working for us.

The 20 visitors from Yancey County included folks affiliated with the Cullowhee Community Garden and Health Department, Faith & Food, Resourceful Communities, Dig In! Community Garden, and The Lord’s Acre. For the Hospitality House portion of the tour, Lauri Wilson highlighted the on-going practices at our gardens. She covered several simple ways to start new growing beds since some of the group sought guidance on getting off – or, rather, in the ground. Because we deal with excess food, we have an abundance of compost, so Lauri demonstrated the art of rotating compost piles through growing beds while speaking to elements of a closed loop system. She also spoke about the incredible value of volunteers, both in terms of people completing necessary tasks and in terms of plants that thrive from unplanned origins. To conclude our part of the tour stop, Lauri emphasized how the garden has progressed as it has thanks to the vision developed by a committee of stakeholders, and directed attention to where existing space will be converted to an edible landscape.

The tour for neighbors is yet another great example of the leadership Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture provides the gardening, farming, and homesteading community of the High Country. The Food Hub has become an incredible resource for farmers in the area, and even a storage space for local food pantries. They started a seed libraries in Watauga and Ashe Counties and build capacity for individuals to save seeds. Along with Appalachian State University, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is hosting “The Food Summit” next Saturday, October 28th, featuring a conversation with Ronni Lundy. Come join us!