During my 10-day stay in North Carolina this June, my friends, family and I visited the Biltmore Estate and Lake Lure’s Flowering Bridge, but we were also wow-ed by a lovely little restaurant with a 1/4-acre garden called Sunny Point Café. Today, I’d like to introduce you to this urban eatery and share some growing tips from Alice, one of the gardeners that helps maintain its garden.
Located at 626 Haywood Road in West Asheville, N.C., the Sunny Point Café is as delightful as delightful can get. A small, family-owned, independent restaurant, its farm-to-table approach is so intense the cafe’s owners decided to grow some of their ingredients right next door. Adjacent to the restaurant is a 1/4-acre garden, filled with 30-plus raised beds overflowing with flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Even our waitress was adorned in flowers! Her arms were covered with tattoos of her grandmother’s red geraniums and purple lupines.
I spent a good hour walking through Sunny Point’s garden, enjoying time with my son and the children of our friends. Together we found a potato dressed as a superhero (Tater Man!), utensil flowers, bowling balls and pins, the bathroom sink, and lots of other special little touches. The garden is well-labeled with colorful, hand-painted signs and informational signage on solar power and composting techniques. I discovered tomato plants mulched with crushed eggshells, a technique Alice told me was meant to add calcium and deter slugs. Potatoes are grown under a thick layer of sun-blocking straw, and hungry birds are kept out of the blackberry patch with aluminum-pie tins and netting.
I was surprised to see fava beans, celeriac, garlic, baby corn, and blood-veined sorrel in the garden, as well as more traditional crops. There is even a bathtub full of cucumbers and an acrylic gothic-style greenhouse where many of the seedlings are grown. A personal favorite was an arch made from concrete reinforcement wire that extended over the walkway. It was graced with a healthy crop of pole beans.
Even the “hell strip” garden, occupying the small strip of land between the road and the sidewalk, was filled with pollinator-friendly flowers that no doubt introduce pest-munching beneficial insects. Alice spent as much time talking with customers and answering their many questions as she did trimming back the fragrant lemon balm, something that’s been critical to the success of the garden. Sunny Point has seemed to discover that if you educate your customers, they’ll often come back for more.
To further educate and inform their customers, Alice told me that the café’s website hosts a blog called “In The Garden” that shares recipes and garden updates on a regular basis.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, our breakfasts were incredible! I had a garden omelet, overflowing with spinach, pesto, leaf basil, fresh tomatoes and smoked gouda cheese. Perfection indeed!
Check out more photos from our trip below: