“[Hall Fletcher] is a great school, but an unrecognized one,” says the elementary school's principal Gordon Grant, citing the establishment's 72 percent rate for children on free or reduced lunch as the highest in Asheville. “[But] a school for poor children should look as beautiful and attractive as any school for any child anywhere,” Grant says. His team hopes to engage students of all backgrounds by “bringing the classroom outside” with an Outdoor Learning Center. Project renderings courtesy of Hall Fletcher Elementary

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features Hall Fletcher Elementary school’s outdoor learning space, Roots + Wings School of Art and Design’s expansion onto a new campus and local band The Circus Mutts’ quest to raise funds for a new tour vehicle.

The answer to suburbia: Robert Eidus says the raised bed containing ginseng and goldenseal that sits off his back deck is a sustainable solution for resupplying your herbal medicine chest in the face of a diminishing supply of these highly sought plants.

Overharves­ting of forest plants calls for mindful consumers

With interest in wild edibles and native medicinals growing, the demand on these plants is quickly exceeding the supply — leading to over-harvesting, poaching and a risk of extinction. When browsing the stands at the farmers market or the shelves in an herbal shop, how can you know if the plants and products you’re purchasing are supporting sustainable, local growers or contributing to a growing problem?

FRESH START: Claire Orenzow says she feels like a new woman after having valve-in-valve replacement surgery on her heart at Mission Hospital.

Mission offers new heart surgery option

When Claire Orenzow’s replacement heart valve failed eight years after it was surgically implanted, the symptoms were excruciating. But doctors at Mission Hospital were able to repair Orenzow’s heart with a new procedure called valve-in-valve replacement that offers significant benefits over traditional open-heart surgery, and Orenzow says she left the hospital a few days after the operation feeling like a new woman.