The Buncombe County Extension Master GardenerSM biennial tour of local gardens contributes more than an educational experience for the tour participants.
As this years’ garden tour participants enjoyed the beauty of the Shady Slope, Sentimental, Lotus, Ever Evolving and Learning Gardens, they were also giving students at local schools the chance to experience the joy of gardening for themselves.
This is because the major recipient of the garden tour revenues, both from ticket sales and sponsorships, is the School Grants Committee. This group comprised of Extension Master Gardeners accept applications from schools in Buncombe County and the City of Asheville who want to either establish or maintain a school garden.
Other educational programs of the Extension Master Gardeners, such as the Information Table, Compost Demonstration, and Helpline, are supported by the funds from the garden tour as well.
In the past 12 years, because of the overwhelming support of the community and sponsors, they have been able to award 123 grants totaling over $ 44,000.00 to 57 different schools in the County and City. More important than the funds provided is the fact that members of the committee volunteer their time and energy to provide the grant recipients with expertise in setting up and taking care of the gardens.
This connection between the educational opportunities provided to those who take the garden tour and those students who benefit from the proceeds is one of the core values of the concept behind the organization of the garden tour. This connection is further enhanced by the knowledge that the Master Gardeners are able to nurture future generations’ love for the environment in a positive and meaningful way