While Kristyn was off getting her birthday party on, I spent the day roaming around Asheville, one of my favorite cities to visit. The bucolic mountain town has such an incredible vibe to it. From the endless amount of local farms and orchards to the world-class restaurant scene, the declaration of food utopia rings true in Asheville. With food to die for juxtaposed against the sublime mountain scene, Asheville a constant struggle between eating and exploring.
This visit to Asheville was short and sweet with just a small sampling of its treasures. On top of my must see list was a quick trip in to our favorite seed company, Sow True Seed. For the last few years, we have shifted to buying the majority of our seeds from Sow True Seed and have yet to be disappointed.
Sow True Seed is one of the few companies in country that is focused on preserving local sustainable agriculture. This is very dependent on ensuring that the seed sold is safe and free of GMO contamination that threatens botanical diversity. In fact, they are striving to create a GMO-fee region in Western North Carolina. How amazing would that be?
My little visit to Sow True Seed happened to coincide with two of their annual events: the Garlic Fest and most important of all the 50% off seed sale.
I loaded up with all the seeds that we could possibly use next year (and maybe a few more). It’s a great opportunity to try out some new varieties or all new plants. Let’s just say, I racked up.
Equally as cool as the seed sale was the garlic fest. They had tables set up with ways to taste test all the varieties of garlic and classes all day teaching the 101’s of growing garlic which is great for those still learning the ropes, like us. My favorite part, of course, were all the homemade garlic treats. I mean they had everything from garlic cookies to garlic fudge. The garlic ice cream blew my mind, it was so tasty. There are more ways to use garlic than I could have ever imagined.
The next morning, I took off in search of a bit more of what Asheville might be hiding. While so many cities in the US are popping up with food forest parks and edible gardens, Asheville quietly established one of the first edible parks in the nation back in 2001. The Dr. George Washington Carver Park located on the site of a former high school turned rubble filled and trash strewn lot is a now an bountiful and beautiful park set with a backdrop of the Asheville skyline.
As I entered the park from the Max Street entrance behind the recreation center, it was hard not to look beyond the park at all that lies in its backdrop. It’s easy to miss the overflowing community gardens and beautiful flowers tucked all around.
Scattered around the entrance were edible plants embedded in the park’s landscape. Muscadines and scuppernongs grow over the chain link fence of the basketball court. Figs, blueberries, and even comfrey line the areas just off the path. All of the figs were thriving in a fairly cold climate.
You certainly can’t forget about our friendly bees. Installing mason bee houses are a great way to increase the pollination of your fruits. I didn’t see much activity from this house, but it was a chilly morning.
As I got more into the interior of the park, the canopy of this edible forest grew thicker with more fruit trees everywhere. So much abundance with so few people reaping the rewards.
The variety of plants is pretty incredible. The fruit trees seemed to go on and on: jujube, pawpaw, pear, apple, persimmon, corneliancherry dogwood, and fig just to name a few. I also saw plenty of nut trees scattered around like pecan, hazelnut, and chestnut. It was a great diversity of plants.
I must say this is where I got the most excited. You see, I have always been obsessed with plants. I love fruits, especially the weird, strange, or rare ones. Pawpaws are a favorite fruit for many of those located near Appalachia where it has hidden its treasure. I have somehow made it my entire life without ever acquiring one of these fruits to taste. That all changed last weekend when I spotted these beauties in the forest.
Pawpaws are actual the largest native fruit in the US and taste like custardy banana mango mixture. It’s very tasty. I can’t wait to get more to cook with. With a few pawpaws in hand, and ended up leaving with a pretty nice tasting of the fall harvest at the edible park. Once I got back, I just happened to get to try some more pawpaws from West Virginia thanks to Kristyn’s mom.
I do love some muscadines and scuppernongs. I can’t forget to show off the tasty pawpaws and chestnuts.
The George Washington Carver Edible Park is a must visit throughout the growing season where you will surely be surprised by tasty treats hiding everywhere around you. All in all it was a great visit to Asheville. (Can you tell with Kristyn’s last post who got to sneak off with the nicer camera?) Check out our facebook page for more pictures of this visit to the wonderful edible Asheville and so much more.