REVIVING THE HOMESTEAD: North Carolina has long been defined by its agriculture industry. As development pressures and rising land costs threaten to consume viable farmland acorss the state, public officials and private land trusts are working to preserve N.C.'s farming heritage and revitalize existing farms. Photo courtesy of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

Eyes on the future: Saving WNC’s farms

Robin Reeves is the sixth generation to grow up on her family’s Madison County farm — a lineage that dates back to before the Civil War. Reeves spent much of her youth helping her parents raise cattle, burley tobacco and tomatoes as well as her extended family in Sandy Mush. As an adolescent, she sold […]

A COVETED HERB: In 2012, the U.S. exported 45,000 pounds of wild ginseng and 342,000 pounds of the cultivated woodland crop, pictured above. The dried root sells for $500 to $2,000 per pound. Photo by Heather Wood Buzzard

Sustainabl­e ginseng: legendary herb’s best-kept secret

BY HEATHER WOOD BUZZARD November marks the tail end of “’sang” season, but relics of the harvest time remain: hand-scrawled signs declaring “Will Buy Ginseng – No License Needed” and reports of recent poaching on both private and public lands. Ginseng hunters and buyers have been everywhere this autumn, but where’s the ginseng? People reach […]

CAN DO: Oskar Blues Brewery’s CAN’d Aid Foundation has offered $1.2 million in grants to quirky organizations since its inception two years ago. The underlying mission is to promote towns, active lifestyles, arts and the environment.

Small bites: Oskar Blues Big Money Chili-onaire cook-off promotes ‘do-goodery’

Oskar Blues’ CAN’d Aid Foundation is seeking competitive talents for its chili cook-off in Brevard. Meanwhile, FEAST and Asheville Middle School team up for a pie fundraiser; MetroWines’ Anita Riley invites two women behind Hi-Wire Brewing’s branding to the shop; Smiling Hara Tempeh’s Hempeh makes its way to grocery shelves; and Lex 18 hosts an Appalachian-themed evening.

NEED FOR SPEED: Taylor Earnhardt Putnam has carried on her family's legacy of competition into her own chosen profession in the professional rodeo circuit. She competes this weekend at the WNC Ag Center for the title of "All-Around Cowgirl" in the SRA Finals. Photo by Darrell Stewart Photography.

Racetrack to rodeo: Taylor Earnhardt Putnam carries on family legacy in SRA finals

Putnam comes into this weekend’s Finals competition as the leading “All Around Cowgirl,” having scored more points in multiple categories than her competitors, in addition to being ranked fourth overall in barrel racing and ninth in breakaway roping. True to her family legacy, she has established herself as a top competitor in her chosen sport, translating her heritage of winning and love for speed from the asphalt to the cow-pen.

Asheville Music School Rock Band closed the event with a rendition of "Sweet Dreams." Photo by Jeff Tallman

Give!Local kickoff: Very auspicious and very Asheville

Give!Local raised nearly $1,000 in its opening day and many of the nonprofits raised additional money at the kickoff event. Thirty nonprofits, their boards, two food vendors, three bands, a dinosaur and a ghost pepper all convened along with about 200 people from the public.

SERVING THE COMMUNITY: Since it's grassroots origins as a small, owner-led grocer in 1975, the French Broad Food Co-op has grown into one of the most popular businesses in downtown Asheville. The FBFC now plans to expand its facilities and offerings and is proposing ideas for addressing community issues of affordability and housing. Photo via the French Broad Food Co-op.

It takes a village: French Broad Food Co-op announces expansion proposals

The iconic community-owned food market and grocer has announced initial plans to expand its current space on the 60-100 block of Biltmore Avenue and is reaching out to community organizations and the city of Asheville to begin discussions on the possibility of a massive multiuse facility.

THE SPICE OF LIFE: The two basic categories of garlic are hardneck and softneck, and there are numerous varieties running the flavor gamut from mild to spicy-hot.

Hardnecks and softnecks: Talking garlic with Root Bottom Farm

Thai fire, Sicilian silver, German red: The world of garlic is far more exotic than one might expect from perusing the plain, white varieties found in most supermarket aisles. Root Bottom Farm owners Morgan and Sarah Decker are working to spread the word about the diverse types of the pungent, flavorful bulb that can be grown in Western North Carolina.

“If you don’t want to own a small business, don’t try and make a living as a farmer,” says William Lyons. He and Marie Williamson own Bluebird Farm in Morganton. Photo by Amelia Fletcher Photogaphy. Courtesy of Organic Growers School

Survey findings may help stem the loss of farms in WNC

Making a living as a farmer is tough anywhere, but it’s particularly true in the North Carolina mountains. Western North Carolina lost 18 percent of its farms — more than 2,800 — in the 15 years between 1997 and 2012. And the majority of existing WNC farmers today are nearing retirement age — many of them without heirs who plan to keep the farm going.

"I gotta go barefoot when I’m in the garden," says Green Opportunities' new executive director, George Jones Jr. Jones joined the nonprofit in mid-July and is bringing some business-minded changes to GO.

Green Opportunities’ new director gets his feet — and his shoes — wet

As the new executive director of Green Opportunities, the green jobs training program that works with low-income Asheville residents, George C. Jones plans to continue the environmental consciousness that was practiced by previous leadership, but his tenure will be guided by his business background.