Plant for the Plateau

Real Estate in Cashiers NC, Lonesome Valley, Land and Homes for Sale

Last year, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, an effort to pair the popularity of gardening with helping the hungry took root in our area. Highlands Food Pantry and Fishes & Loaves Food Pantry in Cashiers invited members of the Highlands-Cashiers community to Plant for the Plateau last summer. The residents and staff of Lonesome Valley heeded the call.  Participants pledged to grow tomatoes, squash, peppers, corn, onions, potatoes, carrots and beans and harvest them to donate to the food pantries to supplement the typical canned and boxed offerings. The effort was a success and allowed the charitable organizations to stretch their resources further.  The Lonesome Valley community is also looking at ways to get more involved with Plant for the Plateau after residents asked to be part of the effort last year. Andrew Renfro, resident services and activities director, said the project was very appealing, especially for members of the garden club.  “We’ve always had an active and busy group, and they saw the call to action at the beginning of the pandemic regarding food insecurity on the plateau, so really everything just kind of fit perfectly and they said we really want to do this,” he said. “They wanted to give back, and the initiative was a great way for us to give residents a sense of community and connection to the greater Cashiers community.” It was eye opening to learn how much need is right here in the area, Renfro said.  “You never expect for a region like this to qualify as a food desert, but it does just in terms of access,” he said. “To be able to participate in a project like Plant for the Plateau, it really does help paint that complete picture of why it is important to grow
food. It really has helped connect our residents to the plateau and a lot of the need many families face up here. We’re excited to continue running with the program.”
Lonesome Valley has a community garden with row beds for residents’ use and is expanding that area to produce more for the needy in 2021, Renfro said. While COVID-19 guidelines made programming challenging during most of last year, the community hopes to hold “plant days” every Saturday morning during the upcoming growing season and get even more people on board, he said. “Involvement is good, and it’s continuing to grow,” Renfro said. “As we see more and more people spend time here in the shoulder season, we’re also seeing more community buy-in. It’s nice to be connected in this way to an initiative that affects a lot of people here on the plateau and to be able to get your hands dirty in the most basic form of giving back. A lot of folks are used to being on boards, so this is a new way for them to help.” Doug Lanning, Lonesome Valley’s certified horticulturist, said he is looking forward to another great year of producing food for Plant for the Plateau. “I think people are going to be more inclined to come to the garden workdays and gather with others because they haven’t been able to do so for so long now,” he said. “I think that now it’s going to be kind of
a mainstay of our community garden that we always find space to grow things for donation purposes”