On this spotlight of Growing Community, we spoke with Rick Philipsen of the Grace Covenant Community Garden here in Asheville, NC.
What is the name of your garden/organization and where are you located?
Grace Covenant Community Garden 789 Merrimon Ave Asheville, NC 28804
Can you tell us about the history / formation of your garden?
The community garden was started in 2008 with the dream of growing fresh produce to share with our neighbors. About 50 volunteers give their time to this project.
Tell us what a typical week looks like – what do you do? What do your members do?
The garden begins in March when all hands help in planting the early plants. The 40 team members usually work on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. After the planting in March, two (2) teams work on Wednesday mornings, and two (2) teams work on Saturday mornings. Before the plants are ready to be harvested, the team members work on weeding the rows. After the harvest begins, usually in April, the teams divide their time weeding and then harvesting.
Say someone wanted to start a new community garden. What is your advice on how they might begin?
*Make a plan for developing an irrigation system (Who will pay for the water?)
*What plants will be grown? (Early plants, mid-Summer plants, late Summer crops) (Who will pay for the plants, fertilizer, etc)
*How will the jobs be divided?
*Will part of the produce be given away? If so to whom and how will it be transported?
*Where will the garden tools be safely kept?
We know available land for community gardens can be scarce, do you have suggestions for how interested folks can get matched up with available land?
Churches often have large properties that might be used for the garden.
Do you garden? What do you like to grow?
Yes, I work with the community garden.
Early plants-kale, collards, beets, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower
Mid-Summer plants-tomatoes, beans, okra, squash, peppers
Late-Summer-cabbage, collards, kale, garlic
How and when did you become interested in growing plants?
My father had a garden when I was growing up.
Do you have a favorite garden that you recommend for folks to visit who are interested in community gardens?
The Dr. John Wilson Garden in Black Mountain, NC and the Southside Garden in Asheville, NC are my favorites.
If folks are interested in supporting your gardens, what are your needs and how can they help?
Call the church office M-F at 828-254-3274