“We're trying to integrate both cultural and traditional knowledge, as well as build a sense of ownership for the kids over growing their own food and their own health,” says Katie Rainwater of Cherokee Central School and FoodCorps. “The best way to do that is to get dirty.”

Empowermen­t from the Earth: Reclaiming Cherokee health and heritage

Cherokee is a community in flux. Decadeslong high poverty and unemployment rates are beginning to decline, but access to healthy food remains limited and cultural values seem to be changing. “It’s Western civilization versus our traditional Cherokee ways,” say community leaders. But community efforts are using gardens to reconnect the Cherokee people to local food, health and a collective heritage defined by knowledge of the earth.

John Mahshie of Veterans Healing Farm.

Welcome home: Veterans Healing Farm connects returning veterans to their community

From the Get It! Guide: John Mahshie says he realized the value of the exercise, healthy eating and time spent in the sun that comes with farming — and what that could mean for veterans experiencing isolation or even suicidal thoughts as they struggle to reintegrate into civilian life. “It’s a natural fit for this sort of healing,” he says.

Sir Charles Gardner works in the Pisgah View Peace Garden, a community garden and commercial enterprise that grows food for — and employees — public housing residents.

Green developmen­ts: How Asheville’s public housing communitie­s are leading the eco-scene

From the Get It! Guide: Green jobs, lush community gardens, community cookouts and water quality testing — these might not be things many in Asheville picture when they think of public housing. But residents says Asheville’s public housing neighborhoods are investing in their communities’ welfare and leading a growing interest in “greening” up the neighborhoods.

"Learning and working with the land is something anyone can do, and it's something that no one should be separated from," says Calixta Killander, garden manager at The Farm in Candler.

Who are the new farmers?

From the rancher with the cowboy hat and lasso to the grower on the tractor gazing out over the cornfield, our idea of a farmer is most often of a male — specifically an older, white male. In many ways, statistically speaking, that image isn’t wrong — but it may be changing. Diversity in agriculture is growing in WNC. Who are these new farmers? What challenges are they facing? And what new perspectives will they bring to agriculture in WNC?