2014 WNCOS Orchid Show attendees enjoy hundreds of orchid exhibits. Photo by Julie McMillan courtesy of WNCOS

Farm & Garden: Asheville Orchid Festival will draw thousands

The 18th Annual Asheville Orchid Festival is expected to be the biggest ever, thanks to a joint effort among the North Carolina Arboretum, the Western North Carolina Orchid Society (WNCOS) and the American Orchid Society. The festival — which is being held in conjunction with AOS’ 2016 national spring meeting — is expected to attract […]

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Farm & Garden: Get growing with gardening classes

Whether you are an experienced or first-time gardener, the fifth annual “Get Growing” gardening series — offered by the Organic Growers School, Fifth Season Asheville Market and the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden — is here to help you step up your gardening skills. The four-part series will focus on the main aspects of organic gardening: […]

Cultivating Ginseng: Photo by Priya Jaishanker courtesy of Flickr (flic.kr/p/oPtFo8)

Farm & Garden: Growing ginseng and celebratin­g spring with UNCA’s Greenfest

Learn to grow ginseng and goldenseal The Southern Appalachian School for Growing Medicinal Plants will host a ginseng and goldenseal workshop at Eagle Feather Organic Farm in Marshall on Sunday, April 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. The workshop will be facilitated by Robert Eidus, who operates Eagle Feather and owns the North Carolina Ginseng […]

MUSHROOM INOCULATION: Learn the basics of growing mushrooms on logs with Trout Lily Deli and Market in Fairview. Photo of log being inoculated with shiitake sawdust spawn courtesy of Flickr (flic.kr/p/6UjfdL)

Farm & Garden: Fun with fungi and virtual workshops

Upcoming mushroom log-inoculation workshops A mushroom log-inoculation workshop this month will offer participants the opportunity to learn how to grow mushrooms using proven methods. The outdoor workshop at Trout Lily Deli and Market in Fairview will also cover how to select prime growing locations, preferred equipment for mushroom growing and the best strains of mushrooms. […]

ShoePlanters

Container gardening contest seeks elementary classroom participat­ion

Elementary school kids in Asheville and Buncombe County will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn some basic gardening skills during the fifth annual Container Garden contest, sponsored by the Men’s Garden Club of Asheville. More than 30 classes participated last year, according to contest organizer Ed Heidel, and the group is […]

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 […]

PAINT THE TOWN: Dozens of artists will contribute to a collaborative mural-painting event in the River Arts District this May.

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 the collaborative project more than 50 mural artists have planned for the River Arts District plus a Burnsville-based family farm’s business expansion.

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 […]

THE BUZZ AROUND TOWN: Chain retailers The Home Depot and Lowe's have begun paying out the sale of flowering plants containing pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining populations of bees and other pollinators. However, the president of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association maintains that a pest called the varroa mite, not pesticides, is the greatest threat to bees. In this file photo, urban beekeeper, Sage Turner shows off some of the bees in her West Asheville backyard. Photo by Carrie Eidson

Bees here now: Home Depot and Lowe’s to phase out neonic-treated plants

In the past few months, two major chain retailers have been busy bees. Both The Home Depot and Lowe’s have begun phasing out the sale of flowering plants containing pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining populations of bees and other pollinators. “Right now, 80 percent of our flowering plants are neonic-free, and […]

Give!Local-stacked

Community Calendar Highlights­: Give!Local nonprofit events from 12/23 through 12/31

This is the last week to donate to the Give!Local campaign! So far there have been over 290 donations made, with an average donation of $89. The largest donation so far has been for $2,100 and the campaign has made over $26,000 (as of Monday Dec. 21). Thanks to all those who have donated so […]

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.