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Ashevillage Urban Farm School

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I have moved away from the mountains of North Carolina twice . Once when I was 15, when we relocated to the state’s coast, to be closer to my mother’s father (my grandfather). And then again, when I was 20. After graduating high school, I returned to the mountains to attend UNC-Asheville for two years. Thinking I wanted to become a fashion designer and live in NYC, I left the area and set my compass north, only to return 4 years later, in 2000.

I was *this* close to leaving again, around 2003, and if the relationship I was in hadn’t ended, I’d likely have joined my ex in a relocation to San Francisco (or, as it’s known out there, the Bay Area). For some time, I felt like Asheville and its environs lacked what I was looking for. There were so many things and businesses that I just couldn’t seem to find here. And now, the longer I stay, the harder it gets to think of ever leaving (although I do wish there was, you know, a rocky, craggy ocean here, and, clearly, that’s not going to happen, so maybe a little retreat to the PNW each summer would be in order, yes?).

This area has seriously got it going on. The local food scene is off the chain. The independent business scene is bustling. The family/parent/kid scene is incredibly friendly. Most notably, though, might be Asheville’s thriving sustainable living scene. The area is rapidly becoming a go-to source of creative ideas and individuals in the realm of green living and design, and my friend Janell Kapoor is about to take things in this realm to the next level.

The force behind the Ashevillage Institute, Asheville’s urban eco-living sanctuary and learning center, Janell is launching an Urban Farm School. Running this coming May-October, the school will educate students in all manner of urban sustainable living, from aquaponics to beekeeping, fermentation to permaculture. We sat down for a cup of tea and a chat about  a week ago. As she described what she has in store for the program, I could feel my pulse quicken. It’s exciting, what she’s doing. It’s riveting, and inspirational, and so, so very beneficial.

Below is the press release on the venture. I invite you to check it out, and, if you feel so inclined, spread the word. With projects like the Urban Farm School happening, I’ve seen the writing on the wall. It says that Asheville really does have everything I want (vast oceans notwithstanding), and that you’ll likely want, too. Oh, and if you do choose to sign up for the school, be sure to tell Janell I sent you!!!


The Urban Farm School is a comprehensive, 730 hour, 25-week program that runs from May 6 to October 30, 2013. The School will train people of all ages and experience levels who aim to work on urban food projects, such as: neighborhood CSA’s, community gardens, green schoolyards, farm-to-restaurant plots, edible parks, church food yards, and food programs within organizations. Students will help manage a neighborhood CSA + gain a Permaculture certification + work with 25 practitioners and sites in the city of Asheville + 25 rural farmers + 50 community food leaders, including businesses owners, nonprofit directors, and city officials related to urban farming.

The curriculum will be taught through hands-on projects, workshops, classes, field trips, meet-the-experts and more. A full range of topics include: seasonal cycles, soil fertility, composting, biodynamics, aquaponics, herbal medicine-making, beekeeping, fermentation, food preservation, forest gardens, orcharding, seed-saving, mapping, designing and budgeting of small-scale operations, community outreach, client relations, and more. The school runs Mondays thru Wednesdays, 9am – 5pm, plus four independent project hours per week. Students will also participate in one of the Institute’s weeklong learning immersions: Bee City USA, Local Food Culture, or Natural Building. Multimedia storytelling, documentation and internet outreach will be a weekly activity facilitated by a team of Asheville’s media talent. Students will learn how to tell their own stories about what they are doing and why it is important to them, their communities, and in today’s world. A database of potential employers, community mentors and educational resources will be shared with students so that they can build ongoing relationships year-round.

The goal of the Urban Farm School is for students to learn how to 1) manage a CSA, 2) maximize yields in minimal spaces, 3) diversify farm production, 4) further the meaning of community-led food security, and 5) connect the dots between farming, policy, potential partners, clients, community collaborators and stakeholders so that urban farming projects and people can establish deep roots on a community scale. This food-centric school brings together farm and food-growing students with the vision, practitioners, projects, networks and skills to effectively farm in the city.

The school’s main ‘campus’ is at the Ashevillage Institute, a one-acre living learning laboratory in downtown Asheville. Hands-on field trips and workshops will be hosted at the other sites around Asheville and the area on a weekly basis. In its first year, the school will accept 10 students. Applications are being accepted now. The total program cost is either $4,600 before April 15th, or $4,900 based on a $1,300 deposit + eight monthly installments of $450 each.

For inquiries about the Urban Farm School contact:, 828.279.1955.

For further information on Ashevillage Institute visit:

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5 Responses to Ashevillage Urban Farm School

  • Elizabeth says:

    I am a fellow eastern NC girl now living in the central part of NC and my heart’s desire has been in venture into (and then stay) the Asheville area. I go there for my relaxation, centering time and long to be there more. I have always liked the vibe in the area. This Ashevillage sounds amazing.

  • Kaitlin Jenkins says:

    Wow that sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing, great inspiration for a Friday!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead says:

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a Texan that pines for Asheville. We have ventured that way twice in the last few years, and I just love it there. That whole area- reminds me of what Austin used to be. Except with mountains!

  • Tanya @ Lovely Greens says:

    What a brilliant little farm school…so many colours, textures, and types of life. I’d love to do the full Permaculture course there :)

  • sharon kitchens says:

    Catching up on my reading of your blog and love this. Great idea and great you support it. By the way, I want to eat basically every edible photo you are posting. So hungry now!! ox