Student-Led Fundraising Campaign Cultivates Change at Hospitality House Gardens

Published Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 11:12 am

Spring is upon us and the Hospitality House Gardens are growing like never before.  In addition to a new passive solar greenhouse and a chicken coop in the works, a group of students enrolled in Appalachian State’s Principles of Fundraising Class have partnered with Hospitality House to launch the Cultivate Change Garden Campaign.

“Our campaign has already raised over $5000, which demonstrates just how much people really care,” says Keven White, one of the five Appalachian Students that make up the committee for the project. “That number shows an impressive commitment to sustainable food production, poverty alleviation, and community wellbeing. And what’s most exciting is that’s only the beginning!”

(Garden Coordinator Lauri Wilson (far left) with the Cultivate Change Committee: (left to right) Victoria Lattimer, Lauren Harper, Keven White, Meredith Winkler, and Anna-Jane Tabler)

(Garden Coordinator Lauri Wilson (far left) with the Cultivate Change Committee:
(left to right) Victoria Lattimer, Lauren Harper, Keven White, Meredith Winkler, and Anna-Jane Tabler)

There are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to the Cultivate Change Garden Campaign. Participants can Adopt-A-Garden-Bed (or bean wall or berry patch) for $115 annually as a three year pledge. A pledge would provide the seeds, companion plants; mulch, compost and row cover for a bed – a bed that would have the donor’s name affixed to it on a plaque. Opportunities for the entire garden project, the lower gardens and hoop houses to be named in honor or memory of a loved one are also still available.

As one of the many aspects of service that Hospitality House provides for Watauga and six surrounding counties, the gardens were created to increase access to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs for the Bread of Life Hunger Relief programs. Residents, volunteers and interns work side-by-side to maintain the gardens, growing not only food, but meaningful friendships as well.

“The gardens were pretty much a life saver,” says David Grant, a former resident of Hospitality House. “I found that gardening was not only a way to relieve stress and tension, but a way to give back to a great organization that was there for me when no one else was.”

Grant was a victim of the 2008 economy, and ended up living in his car. When he arrived at Hospitality House, he traded his meals of cup noodles for vegetables fresh from the garden! Now, as a volunteer and a member of the Garden Visioning Committee, Grant is one of the biggest advocates for the growth and expansion of the garden project.

One of the first expansive tasks of the visioning committee was to carry out the wishes of a now deceased resident, Henry Beach.

“It was Henry’s idea to bring chickens to Hospitality House,” states Hospitality House garden coordinator Lauri Wilson. “He had the passion, he did the research and he planned to be the primary caretaker and egg fetcher. I am happy to say that Henry’s Hen House and the adjacent chicken run will soon be complete.”

Currently, that visioning committee is working on a plan to maximize on-site production by developing a one-hundred percent edible landscape plan and developing grant requests for terracing and expanding fruit, herbs, and perennial plantings.

Having completed several successful workshops this past fall, the gardens at Hospitality House will be hosting weekly children’s garden activities; as well as, working with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture through a “Grow Appalachia” grant received from Brea College in Kentucky.

The grant provides education for families that include organic garden planning & maintenance, planting, seed starting and transplanting, weed and pest control and season extension and seasonal food preservation courses to be held in the Hospitality House kitchen. Additionally, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and Hospitality House will collaborate to start a coalition of community gardens that work together on food security for all.

Started in 2011, with nine handicapped accessible beds in an enclosed courtyard, the gardens at Hospitality House have never stopped growing. A lower garden, containing fourteen raised beds, was added a year later. As part of a Heifer International initiative, two hoop houses were built in 2013, adding seven additional raised beds, a germination table, and the opportunity for growing seedlings and extending the growing season. That same year, a small orchard of fruit trees was added as a project of Appalachian State’s AIM High Honors Society.

In 2015 a rain harvesting system was installed to save watering costs and Sigma Kappa, Appalachian State’s Philanthropic sorority, won a grant for a philanthropy project “Turning the Blue Ridge Green,” to design and build a 12’ x 8’ passive solar greenhouse in the enclosed courtyard. Hunter Smith, a senior Interior Design and Building Science major, did the design and construction.

For information on a naming opportunity or to Adopt-A-Garden-Bed visit or contact Todd Carter at[email protected] or 828.264.1237 ext. 107.

To volunteer or get involved with the many Hospitality House garden and farm initiatives, contact Lauri Wilson at[email protected].

To learn more about Hospitality House, visit them online at, follow them on Twitter @HospHouseBoone or on Facebook at

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