Asheville's Amazing Garden of Learning

The Asheville community has long been considered a Foodtopian Society; that is, a community that embraces farm to table concepts and values the relationship between the local farms, chefs and restaurants in the area. That commitment to sustainable practices is even more evident with the creation of the Amazing Garden of Learning.

The garden is an incubator project established at Estes Elementary School to help teach students a hands on approach to agriculture that spans across several educational disciplines. This outdoor learning classroom is set to be a model for other schools outside of the Asheville community.

The proposed garden will feature a variety of learning tools, including a human sun dial and a rain garden, to help augment students’ studies in the sciences, history, social studies, mathematics, climate and environmental studies, and health and nutrition. Incorporating First Lady Michele Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative, produce from the garden will be used as instructional tools for healthy eating in an effort to battle childhood obesity.

More after the jump.

“We hope to replicate this project in other schools across the county,” said Steve Frabitore, owner of Tupelo Honey Café, whose Executive Chef Brian Sonoskus has been working with Estes students over the past several months. “And thanks to Mission Children’s Hospital’s generous support, we will be able to accomplish this goal.” Frabitore and Tupelo Honey Café have also committed to providing maintenance for the garden for its first five years.

Coming in as the lead sponsor, Mission Children’s Hospital’s strong five-year commitment to the project is part of a longer-term vision to proactively improve the health and well-being of Buncombe County residents. “Improving the health of the people of western North Carolina is the mission of Mission Health System,” said Mission’s Director of Marketing and Web Services Janet Moore, “and that begins with improving the health of the children in Buncombe County. When we teach our children about healthy eating, and that includes a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, we go a long way in preventing obesity, diabetes, and other lifelong health complications. Our hope is that this project will ultimately produce a model that can be replicated not only throughout Buncombe County, but throughout our region and ultimately the nation.”  

Estes Principal John Barbour agrees. “We are thrilled to have the first prototype of this amazing learning garden at Estes,” he said. “We have over 800 students who will benefit substantially from this hands-on educational tool – and many, many hundreds of students in future generations who will do the same.” 

The project gardens are designed to be sustainable for 20 to 25 years with the potential of tens of thousands of students expected to benefit over the course of that time at Estes as well as with new gardens in other locations. If you’d like to donate to Mission Children’s Hospital’s Amazing Gardens of Learning initiative, go to www.estesgarden.chipin.com   

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