PLENTIFUL PLANTS: With over 65 vendors at this years Asheville Herb Festival, there is no shortage of medicinal and culinary herbs, native herbs, flowers and heirloom vegetables. Photo by Carrie Eidson

Farm & Garden: Spring herb festival brings together people, plants and products

With our growing season just getting underway in the mountains, we lucky enough to have the largest herb festival in the country about to take place right in our backyard. The 27th annual Asheville Herb Festival has been billed as the biggest herb focused event of its kind in the Southeast for the past 15 […]

Tailgate shopping strengthens relationships: When you ask people why they shop at a tailgate market, everyone has a slightly different answer, says Molly Nicholie of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. "Everyone has their own reason for shopping at their particular market. I think a lot of it is really based in relationships — and wanting a direct connection with who is growing your food." Photo courtesy of ASAP

Fresh food connection­s at your local tailgate market

(Go to the bottom of this article for a listing of local tailgate markets) With springtime and warmer weather finally underway here in the mountains comes the opportunity to head outdoors to our local tailgate markets. While some of them won’t set up their tents until mid-May, most tailgate markets have already begun their season. […]

MOUNTAIN MAJESTY: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most beloved and most visited sites in the National Park System, attracting millions of visitors and tourist dollars to the region each year. Its creation was the result of over a decade of legislative wrangling, relentless promotion and fundraising, and the tireless efforts of WNC residents such as George Masa, a Japanese immigrant who helped introduce the Smokies to the American people through his photography. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville

George Masa and the birth of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“These efforts really are about protecting places for all Americans and for future generations,” notes Brent Martin of The Wilderness Society. The leaders of the national parks movement, he maintains, “all saw a much bigger picture, not only for all human beings, but for all living things.”

RETURN OF THE RAIL: For more than 20 years, a collective of WNC communities between Asheville and Salisbury have strived for the return of regular passenger rail service into the region. At a March 2 meeting, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee outlined a new three-pronged strategy to reinvigorate freight service, expand excursion train opportunities and explore a pilot thruway bus service into the region through Amtrak. Photo by Max Hunt

WNC Rail Corridor Committee hatches new strategy

For more than 20 years, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee has worked tirelessly to prove the economic viability of restoring the historic rail link between Salisbury and Asheville. With changes in the rail industry looming and younger travelers showing increased interest in train travel, the committee is partnering with towns and municipalities and freight rail companies to pursue a new, three-pronged strategy.

CHEERS TO FIVE YEARS: Altamont Brewing Co. celebrates five years with a Brewing for Greenways fundraiser.

Altamont Brewing celebrates five years with Brewing for Greenways benefit

Altamont Brewing Co. will combine its love of beer with a passion for greenways and alternative transportation by hosting a large fundraiser on Friday, March 18, in collaboration with the Friends of Connect Buncombe’s Brewing for Greenways project. Brewing for Greenways, which describes itself as a “multi-brewery effort to raise money and awareness for the […]

CROP ROTATIONS: Once a dominant crop across WNC, tobacco production in the mountains has all but disappeared in the wake of the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, commonly referred to as the "Tobacco Buyout," which did away with the long-standing federal quota system and changed the landscape of farming in the region. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was […]

URBAN FOREST  Unaware of the controversy over their fate, 23 mature oaks stand on a knoll overlooking Coxe Avenue. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Oaks’ last stand: South Slope urban forest won’t get city funds

If the 23 mature oak trees at 11 Collier Ave. on Asheville’s South Slope are to escape the chainsaw, it will have to be without the city’s help. While City Council followed through on its commitment to explore possible strategies for preserving the urban forest, in the end Council decided that committing resources to the effort in advance of significant private fundraising wasn’t a responsible use of taxpayer assets.

Adam Myerson (front) at the 2016 Cyclocross Nationals. Photo by Joshua Cole

A national coup: How Asheville Cyclocross Nationals went from dream to reality

Racers and organizers both had their fingers crossed as competitors zipped around the often muddied and frozen course on the Biltmore Estate during the 2016 Cyclocross National Championships, Jan. 5-10. In the end, the event drew high praise from all quarters. Adam Myerson, a 30-year-veteran bike racer and pro from New England, wrote: “Nationals course evaluation: best nats course I’ve ever ridden. Maybe best U.S. course ever, period.”

RESILIENCE BRILLIANCE: "We know a lot already about how to deal with climate change," says Laura Lengnick, author of Resilient Agriculture. She offers a solution in the form of sustainable, nature based practices. Photo courtesy of the Organic Growers School

In Asheville and beyond, creative problem solvers are hatching new solutions

Carl Sandburg called Chicago the “city of the big shoulders”; if he were alive today, he might describe Asheville as “the city of the big thinkers,” acknowledging the passion so many area residents display in seeking out new solutions to the issues we face. On many fronts, creative new approaches are being hatched and put […]

Frand, navigating Smokey Park Highway in 2014

Asheville disclaimer­: Asheville man determined to ride bicycle all winter for no clear reason

The Asheville Disclaimer is parody/satire. Asheville, Monday — The 2.5-mile commute Scott Frand makes on bicycle between his home and his work will get significantly more difficult and unbearable as winter worsens, to the apparent delight of Frand. “Last winter, I had to finally switch to my car when the snow got too bad and […]