Walking Through Carolina: An Outdoor Living Exhibit

This grant supports an outdoor living exhibit to tell the story of North Carolina through plants crucial to its development. UNCC's Center for the Study of the New South and Botanical Gardens will interpret North Carolina's diverse cultures through a historical garden trail, illustrating how plants speak universally. Crops were brought here by many cultures and have incredible stories to tell. Visitors will learn through technology how plants were used in different communities, with experts hosting events to encourage intergenerational conversation. By fostering connections between nature and citizenship, the exhibit sparks engagement about being a North Carolinian.

Throughout the history of the Carolinas,’ plants and foodways have both divided and brought together citizens. The crops of the Carolinas came here from all over the world, brought by many different cultures, and for many different reasons. From the peanut, which originated in South America, made its way to Africa, and then was brought to the Carolinas by enslaved peoples and eventually evolved into the popular snack it is today, to sassafras, a native tree which provided a unique drink to native Americans that evolved into root beer, visitors who walk the Trail will learn how a plant used in one way by one community is now used differently in another. The living exhibit fosters connection between nature and citizenship that moves beyond a particular plant species.