Student Environmental Center

The Student Environmental Center (SEC) at UNC Asheville is a student-funded, student-run department that seeks to engage students, faculty, staff, and the Asheville community in conversation and action around environmental issues. We are a campus resource for information related to environmental stewardship, university sustainability, and community outreach.

To achieve these goals, the SEC provides a home for passionate students from a variety of backgrounds to gain education on environmental issues. Our focus on peer-to-peer education fosters an environment for individual empowerment where we can create and maintain projects which promote sustainability on our campus. The SEC supports on campus and community events and promotes sustainability initiatives by investing time and funds into these projects.

For inquiries about project ideas, green grants, and ways to get involved, email us at and one of our co-directors will be happy to get in touch.

Find out about our ongoing events, projects and garden updates by liking our Facebook page.

Campus Gardens

Castanea Forest Garden

Located beside the Sam Millar Facilities Complex, the Castanea Edible Forest Garden is the first edible forest garden in the UNC System. It’s a living representation of permaculture ideals and serves as a food forest for all living community. We are working to plant perennial food that will feed our future generations for decades to come! The garden has over 20 species of fruit, nut, berry or otherwise useful food plants.

ROOTS Garden

The Rhoades Property Garden serves as a space for students, faculty, staff and Asheville community members to learn and participate in sustainable agriculture practices.The intergenerational activities that are practiced in the garden are intended to make connections between the diverse communities and neighborhoods of Asheville, educational institutions, and various sectors of the food system. The Rhoades Property garden provides a fun way to learn about sustainability and organic gardening and serves as an opportunity to gain and share knowledge, which in turn will create a community response to local food security.

Sol Garden

The UNCA Sol Garden, located behind Brown Hall, is a student led community garden that focuses on facilitating educational opportunities for students and community members of all backgrounds and disciplines. In doing so the garden becomes a platform for discussion surrounding a variety of topics, from sustainable food production to food access and greater food sovereignty. The Sol Garden is an experimental space dedicated to annual and perennial production of vegetables, fruit, herbs, medicines, and pollinator friendly plants. It is a space where one can take first steps into the insightful world of growing plants and discussing the greater implications of doing so. Our mission is to connect people around growing food and to build community in doing so. The SEC is dedicated to providing engaging, hands-on learning experiences in an inclusive environment for all members of our community. To address the often inaccessible structure of communal gardens and other green spaces, the layout of the Sol Garden is designed for volunteers of all levels of mobility.

Campus-wide Composting

We have implemented a campus-wide composting project in the residence halls. The aim is to capture and productively implement organic waste being generated by on-campus residents. We also have advocated for use of compost in all of our campus dining locations as well as moving to put compost bins in academic buildings.

Free Store

The Free Store is operated by the Student Environmental Center and is located downstairs in Highsmith Union near the bike shop. It offers a variety of lightly used items like clothing, electronics, school supplies, and much more! Students can “shop” for any one of the items on the shelves, or leave a donation for future shoppers. The Free Store gives students a venue to “free cycle” items that are still in good condition and can be used by other students. Free store hours usually match the hours of Highsmith Union. Check out the Free Store Facebook for a listserv-type service and updates of Free Store goodies!