Community Spotlight – FEAST Asheville & Bountiful Cities

By Rebecca Alexander

This summer, Bountiful Cities and FEAST Asheville partnered together for the Community Garden Support Project with funding from Mission Health’s 2017 Community Investment grants program. The Community Garden Support Project focuses on improving and maintaining three local schools’ gardens: Hall Fletcher Elementary, Francine Delaney New School for Children and Vance Elementary.

Through FEAST, students are able to work hands on in their school’s garden and learn how to grow and maintain the plants.

Fourth grader, Andariel said, “Because of FEAST, I am a smarter, healthier person and a better gardener. I have a better understanding of the plants around me and how they work. I also have a better understanding of where my food comes from.”

“Because of FEAST, I eat healthier and have a better life,” said Aiden, a second grader at Vance Elementary.

During the summer, maintaining the gardens becomes a challenge since students are out of school. With grants from Mission Health, Bountiful Cities’ landscaping company Grass to Greens provides support for summer maintenance of the gardens.

“We were able to host ‘Weed and Feed’ events at both Vance and Hall Fletcher this summer because we had the extra support from the AmeriCorps members, and we had a lot more produce in the gardens this summer as a result of Grass [to] Greens work.  We had anywhere from 4-15 community members and families from each of the schools attend the open garden hours each week come work and take home fresh produce!” said Kate Justen, Executive Director of FEAST.

By the time back to school rolled around, the gardens were ready and waiting for the students return.

Mission Health’s Community Investment Program recently announced over $890,000 in funding [1] to a diverse group of 17 western North Carolina agencies, in a joint effort to improve the health of those served by Mission Health across the region. The 2018 focus areas for the grants are Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse, Chronic Disease, Social Determinants of Health (focusing on food security and homelessness) and Interpersonal Violence.
To learn more about Mission Health’s Community Investment Program, visit [2].