Breathe it in: Conservation groups like Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy have protected more than 100,000 acres of WNC land from development.

Conservati­on in WNC — where we’re going, where we’ve been

From the Get It! Guide: Long before the age of Internet lists and online travel magazines, people came to Asheville and Western North Carolina for the intrinsic natural beauty. In fact, the beauty of our environment is what many say makes this place so special. But are we protecting what we have? What initiatives are underway to help ensure that the region remains a respite and a haven for generations to come?

“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.

In 2010, hundreds of people marched down Tunnel Road advocating for the construction of a sidewalk between the Veterans Restoration Quarters and the VA Medical Center. That sidewalk has since come to fruition, but a report shows that Asheville is falling short of its goals.

Asheville tries to keep pace with rising demands for sidewalks, bike lanes

From the Get It! Guide: Asheville is faced with a rising interest in transportation alternatives, but the path to greater advances seems to be lined with historic neglect and budgetary hurdles. The city still has a long walk ahead to fulfill its 2004 goal of building 108 miles of sidewalks. In the last decade, Asheville has constructed only about 18 miles worth.

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.

Gather Together: The Haywood County Gleaners gather excess produce from local growers to donate to food security efforts. But the group realized much of their effort was going to waste and looked for ways to preserve more of the bounty.

Preserving food security: Canning foods for donation

For many of us, when we think of preserved foods, we picture our grandparents carefully canning tomatoes from their garden, or the menu at a trendy restaurant featuring sauerkraut or pickled quail eggs. But imagine what food preservation means to someone experiencing food insecurity or to a donation grower faced with excess produce rotting in the field, and the image becomes something quite different.