The Dr. John Community Garden, a program of Black Mountain Parks and Rec rents 200 and 400 square foot plots to residents. Gardeners grow food for donation on 10% of their plot. The garden manager provides seeds or starts, education, and volunteer supervision for harvesting the produce, and the gardener provides the labor to grow the crop to maturity. On an additional 5000 square feet volunteers grow food exclusively for donation. All food grown for donation is distributed to our community through Bounty and Soul. Perennial crops are tended by volunteers throughout the park, including Asian pears, wild plums, blueberries and more. The garden relies on seasonal interns and community volunteers for its success.
Garden Manager Diana McCall, a part-time employee of Parks and Recreation, has 20 years of experience in permaculture, herbalism, and biodynamic and biointensive agriculture practices. McCall is also a certified facilitator and trainer of community engagement strategies through the Institute of Cultural Affairs. Through her leadership and expertise, the garden community now practices no-till methods, integrated pest management, cover cropping, and passive composting. There is strong emphasis on cultivating overall garden health through building soil fertility and increasing species diversity. McCall uses an asset-based community development approach to weave a strong reciprocal relationship web throughout her local and regional communities and across the state. She collaborates with local businesses to acquire wood chips, leaf mold, pallets, straw, and other valuable resources. As the author Mark Winne, writes in his book Closing The Food Gap, “The most important word in community gardening is not gardening!”
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- 2004 (12 Gardeners and approximately 30 plots) The Town of Black Mountain agrees to provide a portion of the Clevenger property on 99 White Pine Dr. to Dr. Wilson to continue his community garden efforts. He believed that “everyone in our community needs a place to grow food, access to agricultural education about best practices, and that together we should share what we grow.”
- 2006 (20 Gardeners and approximately 40 plots) Dr. Wilson hired the garden’s first intern through sponsorship from a new housing development.
- 2007 The Parks and Recreation department, with support from the Health Initiative, a volunteer advisory board, received a two-year grant from the Health and Wellness Trust Fund of NC. The grant provided technical assistance, funding for personnel, and materials, and created sustainable programs that have outlived the grant.
- 2010 (approximately 40 gardeners) Town makes the garden manager position a permanent part-time role and includes it in the budget. Around 4,000 square feet of donation beds are built in front of the barn to accommodate the growing interest in rental plots. The 10% program is established; every gardener grows the first 5 feet of their plot (30 square feet) for donation.
- 2011 Greenway trail is installed. Began planting fruit, nut and native tree species throughout the park.
- 2012 (54 gardeners) Native plant trail established along the greenway trail
- 2013 Received Urban Legacy Tree Fund grant to plant pecans, persimmons, paw paws, hazelnuts and Asian Pears on the disc golf course. The Garden hosts its first Empty Bowls fundraiser in the garden.
- 2014 Garden formally adopts biointensive and biodynamic practices through the mentorship of Craig Siska. Garden Manager, Diana McCall presents with Health Services Administrator, Jill Edwards, at the National Parks and Recreation Conference on Asset Based Community Development. McCall presents: Rethinking Community Development at Tedx UNC-Asheville.
- 2015 Garden reaches over 70 garden plot renters, 1895 volunteer hours, and donation 4,698pounds of produce.
- 2020 Garden reaches over 100 garden plot renters and onboards over 85 community volunteers during COVID-19. Together they donated 2300 hours of service and over 6000pounds of produce.
Community members can rent a half plot (8x25 ft) for $20 from March 1 to October 31. Returning gardeners can expand to a full plot (8x50 ft) for $35. Gardeners may grow year round for an additional $20 per plot.