This Spring Peace & Fun Gardens, my little urban corner in the Southside neighborhood, is one of the plots being farmed by Sunil Patel the founder of Patchwork Urban Farms!
I’ve nurtured a dream of an urban food forest and micro-farm for about 7 years now. I worked with Zev Friedman to develop a permaculture design. I partnered with Zev and Dylan Ryals-Hamilton’s innovative permaculture education business, Permaculture in Action, to reclaim the side lot from kudzu invasion, build the soil, install temporary water catchment and grow a beautiful poly-culture garden (called a milpa) two years in a row.
But the truth is, much as I want to live in a community with thriving urban agriculture, and much as I want to inhabit an urban food forest and micro-farm at my home, I don’t know diddly about farming. I’ve learned a ton from Zev and Dylan through Permaculture in Action but in no way am I ready to live a land-based lifestyle. I’m only a passable gardner — though I will allow that I have had som success with canning and fermenting.
No problem, I thought. Surely there must be some farmers who wanted to try growing in the city for the local markets and restaurants. Then last December, the Universe conspired for Sunil Patel and I to meet at Appalachian Accelerator’s big event at Highland Brewing.
It was love at first sight (at least for me)! Not only is Sunil adorable inside and out, he brings a decade of farming experience to his business, Patchwork Urban Farms, including have been the main farm instructor at Ashevillage Institute for the past two years. Patchwork Urban Farms is bringing resilience and abundance to Asheville’s urban and sub-urban landscapes with permaculture, bio-dynamics and whole systems design.
The soil building we’ve already done, proximity to downtown, River Arts District and West Asheville restaurants plus the visible location made Peace & Fun Gardens an attractive site to start up urban farming. We collaborated on a customized agreement that laid out very specifically what each of us would be bringing to the project and the yields we would receive.
I didn’t want any rent in exchange for the use of the land to farm. I am happy to receive a regular CSA share of the farm yield. I’m also helping to care for the ducks and plan to help out with the market stand we’ll be setting up on Tuesdays.
The other plots in Patchwork Urban Farms are at Pearson Gardens in Montford, Hillside Garden in West Asheville and some early succession production in Swannanoa at Everbear Farm. Sunil has partnered with Asheville Institutes Urban Farm School as well. I’m really looking forward to connecting with all the other members and land partners in our farm community! And I’m starting to get the hand of the ducks!
There are still a few more CSA shares available for Patchwork Urban Farms. Pick-ups will be at the Pearson Gardens in Montford and at my house, Peace & Fun Gardens in Southside. Contact Sunil at [email protected] to get in on this great community urban farm!