Urban Foraging in Asheville, NC

While accompanying my fiancé to Asheville, N.C. for one of her residency interviews, I found myself bouncing around from coffee shop to coffee shop in downtown Asheville, scooping up free internet, downing coffee, handling bits of work, bits of personal business and trying to think about whether I could live here for the next 4+ years.  Then I remembered an article we had read in the New York Times about an “Edible” park in Asheville.  I quickly looked it up, and found out that Asheville indeed had embarked on an edible park based on the foundations of permaculture and “edible forest gardens

Canopy of Fruit Trees

Canopy of Fruit Trees

I drove five minutes out of downtown and found a small park with a recreation center, looking out onto city hall.  As you walk down a path through the park, what you see are grapes lining the fence of a basketball court with fig trees, elderberry trees, and kiwis both growing and vining through fence-like structures.  Further down the path are apple trees, peach trees, berry bushes and other edible plants that I couldn’t recognize due to the coming winter season.  Everything in this area of the park is both edible and representing of mini-ecosystems called “edible-forest gardens.”  Planted next to the fruit trees are plants that work in symbiosis with the fruit tree, much like the different species in a forest.  I saw herbs that attract pollinators, ground cover like lemon balm and strawberries that keep the ground moist, avoid evaporation and block out weeds.  Other perennials like borage, comfrey and purple tree collards act as dynamic accumulators, which bring important minerals from the soil and make them available to the surrounding plants, while plants like artichoke act as natural “mulchers” that continually feed the soil.  I did not see all of these plants present, but I can understand that is their vision. Read More >