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Hospitality House Gardens Gearing Up for a Busy Summer Season, Events Coming Up

Summer is here and the Gardens at Hospitality House are gearing up for its most productive season yet. Established in 2011, with eight handicapped accessible beds in an enclosed courtyard, the Gardens at Hospitality House have grown every year since.


A lower garden, containing fourteen raised beds, was added a year later. As part of a Heifer International grant 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. Last year saw the addition of twenty-four egg laying hens, Henry’s Hen House, built by Avery High School students and a chicken run built by St. Luke’s Deacon Greg Erickson and the Keller Williams RED Day team.


The Gardens at Hospitality House were created to increase access to fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs for the Bread of Life Community Kitchen, Food Pantry and Hunger Relief programs operated by Hospitality House. Residents, volunteers and interns work side by side to maintain the gardens, growing not only food, but meaningful relationships as well. The permaculture gardens, grown using organic and biodynamic methods are a key component of Hospitality House organization values – the sustainability of life, community and environment.

“Those who find a connection with the gardens are more likely to invest in making healthier lifestyle choices for themselves,” said Hospitality House garden coordinator Lauri Wilson. “The gardens also offer our residents a space for healing and growth.”

This year, with the aid of a Garden Visioning Committee that consists of community volunteers, student interns, current residents and former clients, Wilson is focused on renovating the hoop houses, maximizing green space and expanding the Grow Appalachia project.

Gardening with hoop houses allows for an extended growing season, enabling the Gardens to produce food eight months out of the year. The hoop houses were built in 2013 as a Heifer International grant-funded project. On average, the hoop houses increase the amount of fresh food production tenfold.

The Gardens are poised to dramatically expand growing space, moving toward 100 percent edible landscaping, by implementing terraced garden beds around the entire perimeter of Hospitality House. Growing fresh berries, greens, vegetables and herbs in this manner will also lend itself to being a PYO (Pick-Your-Own) space for local neighbors and area citizens riding the Appalcart. This major undertaking requires support and commitment from a variety of resources.

“We have written several local and foundation grants to help fund this expansion.” states Wilson. “We hope that our philosophy of ‘why mow grass when you can grow food’ is equally appealing to clients, the community and grant funders. Additionally, by transitioning to 100% edible landscaping, we are reducing our carbon footprint and increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetable.”

For the second consecutive year, the Gardens have received grant funding through Grow Appalachia, a self-empowerment program centered in Eastern Kentucky focused on eliminating food insecurity. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, the poorest counties that Grow Appalachia serves typically have poverty rates ranging from 25 to 30 percent. Currently, Watauga County has a poverty rate of 32.1 percent. Coupled with an average income that is lower than the national average, the Appalachian region is hard-pressed to find healthy food at affordable prices.

The Grow Appalachia funding assists in the maintenance of the Gardens and related food-growing equipment. Through a partnership with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, the Grow Appalachia project also promotes outreach to families in the community, helping them to start and maintain their own gardens while concurrently providing a series of workshops for beginning gardeners. These workshops will be focused on strategic garden planning through companion planting, composting, harvesting and preservation. The Grow Appalachia project effectively teaches all aspects of food production and bolsters a healthier overall community.

How to get involved/Upcoming Events:


Purchase plants, herbs and seedlings during The High County Farm Tour June 17th 2pm – 5pm. Buy Tickets here: http://farmtour.brwia.org/watauga-garden-tour.html


Attend the Summer Food Series Open House June 19th 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Take a tour of the gardens and enjoy this free community meal featuring all locally grown food from Mountain Memories, Heritage Homestead, New Life Farm, Lively Up Farm and Foggy Mountain Pasta.


Volunteer. Hospitality House is looking for experienced gardeners willing to help teach and mentor new gardeners and volunteers working in the Gardens. Titled “Garden Buddies,” this new program provides an opportunity to link families and gardeners together. Garden Buddies team up for responsibilities such as planting, mulching, composting, watering and harvesting, thereby cultivating a beautiful, bountiful relationship!


Donate. The “Cultivate Change Campaign” provides a way to financially contribute to the Gardens. Launched in 2016 by a group of students enrolled in Appalachian State University’s Principles of Fundraising Class, Cultivating Change places all monetary donations received directly into the Gardens. Donors can Adopt-A-Garden-Bed (or bean wall or berry patch) for $115 annually as a three year pledge, which would provide the seeds, companion plants, mulch, compost and row cover for a bed. The pledge also includes a plaque with the donor’s name inscribed.


For information about how to Adopt-A-Garden-Bed visit HospHouse.org/cultivatechange or contact Todd Carter at todd@hosphouse.org or 828.264.1237 ext. 6


To volunteer or get involved with the many Hospitality House garden and farm initiatives, contact Lauri Wilson at gardens@hosphouse.org or 828.264.1237 ext. 9

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