How Does Your (Edible) Garden Grow: Preparing for Vandana Shiva Visit and Seed Swap

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Dylan Ryals-Hamilton
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Volunteers from UNC Asheville, Bountiful Cities, the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, the Stephens Lee-Recreation Center's Teen Leadership Program, Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club and more gathered at the George Washington Carver Edible Park to make a little garden magic happen.

"This is the largest edible park in Asheville," said Gabi White, a volunteer with the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club, which helps to maintain the forest garden. "It has a large diversity of trees and bushes and vines, and it’s in the center of the city."

The Carver Edible Park is filled with more than 40 varieties of fruit and nut trees, including figs, apples, pears, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and pawpaws--all available for the community to pick, eat and enjoy. The park was created in 1997 and is maintained by Bountiful Cities, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Fruit and Nut Club and others.

The groups working in the garden were also thinking about the seeds that made it possible, particularly as they prepare for an upcoming Asheville visit by Vandana Shiva's, world-renowed activist and author.  UNC Asheville will host a regional seed-swap with Shiva at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, located next to the Carver Edible Park, from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Local seed-savers will gather to exchange seeds--those without seeds to swap are asked to bring a small cash donation to support the region's seed-savers.

"We do this even when she's [Shiva] not here," said Ruby Warren, another Fruit and Nut Club volunteer, who was busy loading mulch into wheelbarrows. "But this is a special event."

Warren is also looking forward to Shiva's lecture at UNC Asheville, "Seeds of Hope, Seeds of Resilience - How Biodiversity and Agroecology Address Hunger and Climate Change" at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The lecture is sold out, but overflow seating for a live-stream of the event will be available in Humanities Lecture Hall.

"I really admire her courage and willingness to speak out and take on the biggest corporation in the world, because she cares for her people." Warren said, referring to Shiva's work regarding agrochemical company Monsanto. "She’s fearless. And she’s a scientist; she’s got it all."UNC Asheville student Dylan Ryals-Hamilton and students in the Teen Leadership Program.

UNC Asheville student Dylan Ryals-Hamilton has been helping to maintain and manage the park as part of his McCullough Fellowship, a research program for students working in projects related to sustainability. Ryals-Hamilton has organized several work parties over the fall, helping to transform the park from a wild and overgrown space to an inviting and thriving forest garden.

"This is one of the ways we've been able to rally folks," Ryals-Hamilton said. "This is totally the kind of thing I suppose Vandana Shiva would appreciate."

For more information about Shiva's visit to UNC Asheville, which includes two class visits and a garden tour that are open to the public, visit news.unca.edu/articles/vandana-shiva-residency-unc-asheville-culminate-public-lecture-oct-18.