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How a local community turned a vacant lot into a community asset

March 28, 2008

Recipe Name:

Shiloh deepens its Roots


Target audience

  • The Shiloh Community in Asheville consisting of 700-900 African American families.

Partners involved

  • Buncombe County Health Department
  • The Shiloh Community Association
  • Healthy Buncombe
  • The Bountiful Cities Project
  • Asheville City Parks and Recreation

Resources needed for the project

  • Eat Smart, Move More NC Community Grant funding
  • Tools and equipment for gardening
  • A permanent water supply
  • Additional funding to publish a cookbook
  • Volunteer support from the Shiloh Community Association Garden Committee
  • Community involvement


The project

The Shiloh Community Garden and Strong Roots program completed and expanded their community garden that started as a small component of a 2005-2006 ESMM Community Grant. The project allowed the garden to become a well-supported, sustainable effort that has increased fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity through gardening, sharing produce and recipes, honoring and celebrate food traditions, and creating an outdoor space that invites physical activity and multi-generational interactions.

Basic steps to implementing the project

  1. Started a garden committee to manage grant activities.
  2. Established a weekly meeting schedule.
  3. Developed an action plan and timeline for meeting goals.
  4. Delegated responsibilities to committee and community members.
  5. Hired community gardener.
  6. Increased support to Bountiful Cities Staff to expand weekly after school program.
  7. Checked in at each meeting to discuss how the tasks were going and to determine where the weakness/strengths were.
  8. Purchased tools and equipment and ensured secured storage.
  9. Prepared garden site.
  10. Tested and amended the soil (multiple times).
  11. Established schedule for workdays for youth, program staff and community members.

The timeframe

Grant activities have been implemented during the entire nine month funding period (October 2006 - June 2007). Given the nature of gardening, activities continue through the harvest season and the cookbook is currently being printed.


Outcomes of the project

  • Tools and equipment are available for maintenance of the garden and productive community workdays. These include: rakes, wheelbarrows, gloves, hand tools, weed eater, lawnmower, small tiller and shovels. In addition, the garden shed, previously completed, has a secure lock.
  • A permanent water supply has been established.
  • A community member with years of experience in gardening was given the position of part-time gardener. His leadership and expertise has produced an abundant harvest this growing season.
  • A youth after school program focusing on gardening activities was established in 05-06. With support from the grant, this has expanded to include approximately 30 youth. Youth received information on information on healthy eating and physical activity, increased physical activity through gardening, and harvested produce from the garden and took it home to share with their families.
  • Working with the youth and local churches, 78 recipes, along with stories of food memories and traditions were collected. Community members compiled and edited the cookbook and it is currently being printed.
  • Between 25-30 seniors have enjoyed fresh produce from the garden and increased physical activity during a weekly lunch group.
  • Community members have increased physical activity and vegetable consumption through working in the garden and harvesting produce.
  • The Shiloh Community Association has initiated the process for establishing a berry production garden with a commitment by farmer to provide raspberry and blackberry bushes and technical assistance as well as commitment of property to plant berries.
  • The garden has been established as gathering place for community events and recreation including a community story telling day focusing on sharing stories about food traditions and memories.
  • Submitted 3 grant proposals to organizations to further develop the garden property and expand community resources. Received funding from the NC Clean Water Foundation to restore the stream that runs parallel to the garden. The grant will provide environmental education and skills for 4 youth in the community.

Contact Information:

Name, Title: Terri March, Health Promotion Coordinator
Agency: Buncombe County Health Center
Address: 35 Woodfin Street
City, State, Zip: Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 250-6994
Fax: (828) 250-6996

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