Part of a healthy lifestyle is minimizing stress. Coloring books for grownups are one of the latest trends to help. Thanks to a collaboration between Asheville Parks & Recreation, area nonprofits and agencies, and local artists, residents can connect with food resources and learn about community gardens through the beautifully-illustrated pages of a new adult coloring book, In the Garden.
“The City of Asheville received a grant from the National Recreation and Park Association to promote local resources and provide nutrition education and community gardening opportunities,” said Kim Kennedy, Manager of Stephen-Lee Community Center. “We collaborated with other community organizations on innovative ways to utilize the grant. Buncombe County Council on Aging had the idea to create an adult coloring book featuring interpretations of community gardens by Asheville-area artists and storytellers.”
In the Garden highlights 10 gardens and provides information for ways to volunteer, find food and meal sites, and connect with resources to alleviate food insecurity. Fifteen artists created pieces to represent garden locations, some of which they share a personal history. As such, the artistic styles represented in the coloring book are varied. Biographies and contact information for each artist are also included.
“As trusted gathering places, park and recreation agencies are uniquely suited to serve as community wellness hubs, connecting every member of the community to essential programs, services and spaces that advance health equity, improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life,” said Maureen Neuman, Senior Program Manager of the National Recreation and Park Association. “We are proud to support the work of Asheville Parks & Recreation as it steps into the role of community nutrition hub, ensuring all members of the community have increased access to fresh, local foods through community gardens, SNAP and WIC benefit assistance, and nutrition education opportunities.”
Asheville’s community gardens are public spaces where neighbors find common ground while demonstrating a commitment to shared mountain spirit and sustainability. Some volunteer each week, others volunteer once a year. Generally, harvested food is divided among volunteers with the excess donated to local food pantries and nonprofits connecting the resources to neighbors in need of healthy fruits and vegetables. The NRPA grant has so far been used to establish two new gardens, in the East End/Valley Street neighborhood and at Burton Street Community Center.
Complimentary copies of In the Garden are available at community centers throughout the city. A PDF of the book and a food resources map are available on www.ashevillenc.gov/parks under the “wellness” tab.
Artists contributing to the adult coloring book include Jami Allen, Robyn Baxter, Julie Becker, Annie Kyla Bennett, Hannah Bunzey, Erika Busse, Sam Fontaine, Jina Mendez Martin, Ryan O’Sullivan, Stephanie Peterson Jones, Jenny Pickens, Karine Rupp-Stanko, Elizabeth Somerville, Tricia Tripp, and Nicole Leigh Yates. Collaborators on the project with the City of Asheville include Buncombe County, Bountiful Cities, Buncombe County Council on Aging, MANNA FoodBank, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, and YMCA of Western North Carolina.
If you are experiencing food insecurity, connect with resources by dialing 2-1-1 from any phone or visiting www.nc211.org.
Driven by the promise that Asheville is a better and safer place when everyone from infants to retirees has the opportunity to be supported, healthy, and successful, Asheville Parks & Recreation was the first nationally-accredited municipal recreation department in the United States. For more information, visit www.ashevillenc.org/parks.
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org.