Woodfin Greenway: Moving Forward with Taste

“The world is but a canvas to our imagination” Henry David Thoreau

Soon you may find yourself wandering through the landscape of the new Woodfin Greenway, reconnecting with what once was, the diverse native plants of WNC and many edible plants long forgotten but preserved in nature.

On January 16th 2018, the Aldermen of Woodfin unanimously decided to adopt a proposed landscape plan for the Woodfin Greenway. The proposal is called Woodfin PEN Proposal written by Dylan Ryals-Hamilton with input from Woodfin community members and support from the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club , which outlines the landscape for the Woodfin Greenway to consist of pollinators, edibles and natives (PEN). This was a collective vision of a small group of sustainable community activists experienced in landscape and edible park permaculture.

Over a year ago, the idea came to a Woodfin resident after hearing a Ted Talk podcast titled, “How we can eat our landscapes”. This inspired him to reach out to permaculture enthusiast, Gabrielle White of the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club, who then organized a meeting with Dylan-Ryals Hamilton to draft a proposal for the new Woodfin Greenway set to open in 2020.

“If they (Gabrielle and Dylan) got on board and drafted a good proposal, I felt like it would be well received by the Alderman” says the caring resident. Gabrielle was very optimistic about the outcome.“It’s so nice to have been a part of a community effort that will have positive effects on the health and wellness of Woodfin residents in perpetuity. The Alderman Council showed they are open and dedicated to holistic thinking on behalf of the people they serve. I hope Asheville and surrounding towns can do the same.”

This is the first time Dylan has drafted a landscape proposal to present to the town. Dylan has experience in landscaping and permaculture design. He has been working on food security and community food with an initiative called Transition Asheville, a grassroots movement to create more sustainable communities. He also works with the UNCA McMcullough Fellowship which connects undergraduates with sustainability projects. It seemed like a good fit. “It’s a great kind of stepping stone along the path”, says Dylan.

So what’s the plan? “It's the same as a conventional landscape approach. It’s just using a different palette or list of plants”, says Dylan Ryals-Hamilton.

The plan is to take the existing landscape design and replace the non-native , generic plants with a wide selection of pollinator, edibles, and native plants. The plan also involves adding signage and will offer various opportunities to involve the local community and all users of the Greenway. It keeps the tradition of the original landscape and provides natural vegetation, preserving wildlife habitat and encouraging the health of the river.

This newly adopted plan has the potential to connect the community with nature using the PEN concept. “This kind of policy is happening at a scale that is doable and accessible and people can get involved”, Dylan says. Businesses have the opportunity to participate along with volunteers to provide resources and educational classes to further its potential. “The hope is for Woodfin, like the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club, to have the same kind of grassroots”, says Gabrielle. “We all have the right and responsibility. It calls back into the principles of what sustainability looks like”.

When asked about expenses, Dylan responds, “It's up to the town of Woodfin and who is in charge of the maintenance crew. If we want to maximize the plant’s yield then that might require a little more maintenance but could be filled by volunteers, community members and the BCFN club. The possibilities are rich. A lot of local businesses could benefit from having signage and doing a little bit of sponsoring. Just like adopt-a-street but adopt-a-spot”.” Dylan addresses the needs of other cities and towns. “The idea is to take the plan and make it an open source document that people can request access to in order to promote similar policy in their own town or neighborhood anywhere on the east coast, nation, or the world theoretically.”

The cornerstone of this plan is to create something substantial out of the ordinary landscape through an innovative idea to capitalize on giving back to our environment while preserving the native habitat and reconnecting within ourselves the stewardship to the land.

The Town of Woodfin Alderman unanimously accepted this project proposal during the January 16th Alderman meeting. The next greenway update meeting will be held February 21st at the French Broad River Academy on Riverside Drive. ( Time to be determined )

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