In the garden

From their garden to yours: Hall Fletcher Elementary students will sell vegetables they grew themselves at a student-run farmers market Tuesday, May 7 through Thursday, May 9.
From their garden to yours: Hall Fletcher Elementary students will sell vegetables they grew themselves at a student-run farmers market Tuesday, May 7 through Thursday, May 9.


Plants from the hands of babes

Hall Fletcher Elementary students have been busy honing their green thumbs. They've spent months carefully tending to tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and basil, and now the public can bring their hard work home. The students will sell vegetable starts they raised themselves at a student-run farmers market Tuesday, May 7, through Thursday, May 9, from 2:30-3 p.m.

More than 250 children helped care for the school's 3,900 square foot garden, which also serves as a laboratory. Garden classes engage in hands-on, experiential learning that corresponds with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study science curriculum. First-graders learn about the needs of an organism by cultivating carrots; fifth-graders learn about climate through microclimate planting experiments.

"Whether it's fostering excitement for the story of their food, or seeing a butterfly or work life cycle for the first time, our students are planting the seeds of science, nutrition and environmental based learning for their future," says AmeriCorps Project POWER garden specialist Rachel Lubitz. It's the process of growing organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers that provides a holistic educational experience, she explains, but the fruits of their labor are just as impressive. Join the students as they share their newfound knowledge and their bounty. $1-$2 per plant. http://avl.mx/sh.

Wild foods in the cove

There's no better way to learn about wild foods than going on an expedition with an expert. In fact, that's one of the only safe ways to learn what's delicious and what's poisonous. Join a community of foraged food-lovers for a Wild Foods Walk, Talk and Lunch, hosted by homesteader extraordinaire Ashley English, on Sunday, May 5, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wander through the English's woodland cove with wild plant educator and Healing Roots Design herbalist Keri Evjy. Take a closer look at the trees, meadows and streams that harbor native edibles, then taste the bounty for yourself. A group meal will feature foraged plants and seasonal comfort foods. Ashley English's parties are collaborative events, so bring a homemade canned good from your pantry or a "springtime side" to share. $35 includes lunch. Info, location and registration: http://avl.mx/sr.

Herbs for the homestead

No kitchen is complete without a patch of herbs out back. Sure, you can cook with dried leaves from the supermarket, but why? Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow; they thrive in heat and sun and require less water than many flowers and veggies. Plus, these perennial favorites come back year after year.

Stock up on everything from basil to tarragon at the Asheville Herb Festival, Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5, at the WNC Farmers Market. More than 60 growers will present their garden's best herbs, alongside herbal ointments, balms, soaps and teas. Organizers expect nearly 30,000 garden-enthusiasts to attend, so go early to grab the perkiest cilantro, enjoy a herbal beverage and soak up advice from the experts. Free. http://www.ashevilleherbfestival.com.

Prize-winning rhodos

Western North Carolina has been in love with rhododendrons since before Thomas Wolfe first picked up a pen. In the 1920s and ‘30s, Asheville citizens lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the Queen of the Rhododendron Ball as she glided through town. A celebration of our region's most elegant shrub continues in Bakersville each June, but if you can't wait that long, the Southeastern Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society has something to tide you over.

At the N.C. Arboretum near Asheville, the society will display hundreds of trusses and sprays at a the Rhododendron and Azalea Flower Show on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5.  Judges will cast their careful eye on each spray as rhodie lovers crowd around traditional blooms and hybrid flowers.

If you think your rhododendron or azalea are worthy of praise, bring a sample to the arboretum on Friday, May 3, from 2-5 p.m. for judging. Vases will be provided and society members will be available to teach gardeners how to cut trusses for show. Anyone can enter, no membership required, but after you see these rhodies in person, you may want to join the crew. Free with $8 parking fee. http://www.ncarboretum.org, http://www.rhododendron.org or 696-2996.

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