Big Green Bus stops in Valle Crucis

By Jesse Campbell (jesse.campbell@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Jul. 3, 2013 | Modified: Jul. 3, 2013
Big Green Bus stops in Valle Crucis

Dartmouth University students Jordan Katrinsky, Joanna Schneider and Andrew Milligan work to remove weeds in FARM Café’s community garden in the Valle Crucis community. The students are travelling throughout the United States this summer, volunteering in similar projects and learning more about sustainability.

Photo by Jesse Campbell



For most college students, summer is a time to unwind, relax and catch up with some friends from their hometown.

The traditional summer vacation doesn’t jive with all young scholars, as a group of Dartmouth University students is proving there is more to summer than sunny beaches and parties.

To promote sustainability, environmental awareness and to provide a helping hand to likeminded organizations across the country, 12 students are crisscrossing the United States on a recycled Greyhound bus — known as the Big Green Bus — that runs on biodiesel fuel.

Last week, the Big Green Bus made a pit stop in downtown Boone at FARM Café before riding out to the nonprofit’s community grown garden to help nurture some vegetables and build lasting relationships.

FARM (Feed All Regardless of Means) is a café geared toward providing meals to the needy or anyone else that wants a well-prepared meal in exchange for donations of money or time. The café follows a pay-what-you-can or work-for-a-meal model, according to executive chef Renee Boughman in a previous interview.

With the help of a grant, the café began tilling and cultivating its own garden behind the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, following a generous land donation from Mast, garden manager Susan Owen said.

Volunteers and supporters of FARM hope to harvest the garden’s first bounty later this summer and fall.

“This is a wonderful way to raise awareness of hunger issues not only in Watauga County, but elsewhere,” Owen said.

The garden would not be possible without needed support and donations from the community. So, when Owen heard that volunteers from Dartmouth University were stopping by, she was elated. On top of that, the garden had just received a fresh shipment of horse manure, and the students were quickly recruited to spread the compost.

The reasons why the students gave up their summer vacation for the eco-friendly awareness trip were varied, but reverberated back to a common theme: spreading the good word of sustainability.
“I did this with the hope of learning about sustainability and learning how people around the country are facing climate change and degradation,” senior Andrew Milligan said.

Lindsay Brewer, a government and environment major, said she jumped on the bus because of future career choices.

“I’m really interested in the idea of making environmental grass roots movement,” Brewer said. “I thought the bus was a great way to tour the country and see what’s going on with sustainable living and to inspire people to make changes in their everyday life to make the world a better place.”

On her first trip to the High Country, Brewer said, “It’s beautiful, and I’m enjoying the landscape here.”

Joanna Schneider, of Charlotte, is credited for making the North Carolina leg of the bus’s tour happen. Schneider’s family owns a summer home in the Boone area, she said.

Currently, the garden supports carrots, radishes, okra, peppers, heirloom tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, a variety of beans and flowers and herbs on a half-acre of land, Owen said, adding that the garden is designed in the shape of a butterfly wing because of a prolific butterfly population at the garden’s current location.

FARM Café is located at 617 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, or to learn how you can help, call (828) 386-1000 or visit http://www.farmcafe.org.

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