By Kayla Maneen
It’s that time of year again. The 9th Annual West Asheville Garden Stroll will be held on Saturday, September 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a kickoff ceremony taking place at Hall Fletcher School at 10:30 a.m. Join other members of the community as they make their way around the neighborhood gardens of Wellington Street, State Street, Riverview Drive and Haywood Road. This beloved Asheville tradition allows participants to meet local gardeners and farmers, as well as learn more about raising vegetables and plants.
Finding Sanctuary is this year’s theme and the focus will be on gardens in the West Asheville area that have been turned into areas of respite, reprieve and relaxation. The theme stems from the belief that gardens and natural places can provide comfort and peace in times of happiness or sadness and draws attention to the fact that, worldwide, more than 65 million refugees have taken asylum in cities announcing themselves as sanctuaries for those in need.
The stroll is also a great way to learn about unfamiliar gardening topics. Principal cultivator of the West Asheville Garden Stroll, Scott Miller says, “We see the stroll as a way to have children experience gardens as a source of food and realize that not everything just magically shows up on the grocery shelf.” Visitors can also learn more about the shared experience of community gardening.
The diversity of West Asheville’s community leads to urban gardens of all kinds, from traditional to eclectic and individual to commercial. More than 15 gardens will be on display, featuring a wide variety of plants, animals and landscaping elements such as all-native and cottage plantings, chickens and rabbits and innovative terraced walls, trails and raised beds.
Sunil Patel, special guest for the kickoff and founder of Patchwork Urban Farms, hopes that his community-supported agriculture project, begun in 2014, will provide “fresh, beyond organic, Asheville-grown produce to our community while creating the groundwork for a truly resilient food and farming economy.” Many participating gardeners share similar views.
The West Asheville Garden Stroll is free and open to the public— and, in fact, the more diverse the participants, the better. The Stroll is meant to bring the community together and the peaceful, inclusive settings of these gardens help to do just that.
“The West Asheville Garden Stroll continues to be possible through the hard work of our passionate volunteer members and the generous sponsorship of local businesses and publications,” says Miller. “We are truly the epitome of a community effort.”
Stroll guides with maps and descriptions of the gardens are available at Hall Fletcher School the day of the event from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, visit westashevillegardens.com.