Community Dig Day is about gardening and fun

Paul Clark
Black Mountain News
Bounty & Soul participants fill containers with growing medium at last year's UGrow Community Dig Day.

Teaching people how to cook nutritional food isn’t enough, Bounty & Soul believes. It’s also good to show people how to grow their own.

That’s the reasoning behind UGrow Community Dig Day from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 19. Organized primarily for the underserved people that Bounty & Soul serves through its “whole person” wellness program, it’s open to everyone and will be at the Swannanoa Valley Medical Center parking lot, 997 Old U.S. Highway 70 West, Black Mountain.

Bounty & Soul, a Black Mountain-based nonprofit organization, helps people in the Swannanoa Valley and in McDowell County at who attend its five weekly produce markets for fresh vegetables and some health and wellness coaching.

At the May 19 event, Bounty & Soul will distribute plants, containers and soil to its participants. It will show them how to make potted gardens that will supply fresh food for as long as the plants fruit.

The plants, containers and soil will also be available to the public at a small cost. Anyone can attend workshops on container and small plot gardening, mushroom growing, pallet gardening, worm composting, product making, backyard foraging and fermentation. There will be cooking demonstrations. Cookbook authors and herbalists will be there, as will kids activities including face painting, kids gardening and a pop-up playground from Asheville Adventure Play.

Volunteers helped UGrow Community Dig Day get going last year.

The event had its genesis in the gardens program Bounty & Soul started for its participants. The idea was to help them dig gardens of their own, but the organization was able to help only six families that way, said Allison Casparian, founder and program director. It revamped the program for container gardening at its St. James Episcopal Church market, but wanted to bring the program to participants at other markets.

This year, Bounty & Soul decided to consolidate all its container gardening into Community Dig Day.

“It’s going to be fun,” Casparian said. “There’s a ton of soil and plants and containers.” Fresh tacos will be available, and there will be live music (and maybe storytelling). There might be vendors selling plants, as well.

Partnering with Bounty & Soul on the event is Eat Smart Black Mountain, a program of Black Mountain Recreation and Parks that promotes healthy eating and active living through hands-on gardening and nutrition programs. The program’s eventual goal is that everyone in Black Mountain who wants one has a garden space in which to grow vegetables. Currently Eat Smart Black Mountain enables the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden, the Carver Community Garden, the Black Mountain Primary School Gardens and the Black Mountain Elementary School Gardens.

Bounty & Soul distributes food donated by local farmers and by growers at the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden in Black Mountain, among others. Its other significant suppliers of food are MANNA FoodBank, Publix, Walmart and Sam’s Club.


Cookbook sales benefit Bounty & Soul

Local author and chef Cathy Cleary (The West End Bakery, Asheville) is giving half of proceeds from her recently published cookbook, “The Southern Harvest Cookbook,” to initiatives that support food justice and sustainable agriculture, such as Bounty & Soul (Bounty & Soul uses several recipes from the book at its weekly markets). But a copy at