THE LONG VIEW: “It’s a real treasure — for Buncombe County, for the city of Asheville, for the state of North Carolina," says Sandy Mush Farm owner Dave Everett of his historic, conserved property in northwest Buncombe County. "If we’re successful in ruining these vistas, it will be a truly sad turn of events.”

Buncombe County’s Farm Heritage Trail supports an agricultur­al legacy

Out-of-towners who flock to Asheville for mountain views, world-class dining and a taste of Appalachian culture probably don’t often make a point of including a drive to northwest Buncombe County on their travel itineraries. Sparsely populated rural communities like Sandy Mush, Leicester, Newfound and Alexander tend to be pretty far off the radar for tourists — and even for […]

ON ITS WAY: MSD Operations Manager Roger Edwards pours out the end product of MSD's efforts—water deemed clean enough to go into the French Broad River. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Cleaning up toxic mercury from dental offices

Dental appointments make plenty of people nervous, but water pollution isn’t usually what they’re worrying about. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, however, dental offices are responsible for 50 percent of the mercury entering the nation’s wastewater. Dental amalgam is 49 percent mercury by weight, and dental offices discharge about 4.4 tons of it annually. […]

PLENTIFUL PLANTS: With over 65 vendors at this years Asheville Herb Festival, there is no shortage of medicinal and culinary herbs, native herbs, flowers and heirloom vegetables. Photo by Carrie Eidson

Farm & Garden: Spring herb festival brings together people, plants and products

With our growing season just getting underway in the mountains, we lucky enough to have the largest herb festival in the country about to take place right in our backyard. The 27th annual Asheville Herb Festival has been billed as the biggest herb focused event of its kind in the Southeast for the past 15 […]

Tailgate shopping strengthens relationships: When you ask people why they shop at a tailgate market, everyone has a slightly different answer, says Molly Nicholie of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. "Everyone has their own reason for shopping at their particular market. I think a lot of it is really based in relationships — and wanting a direct connection with who is growing your food." Photo courtesy of ASAP

Fresh food connection­s at your local tailgate market

(Go to the bottom of this article for a listing of local tailgate markets) With springtime and warmer weather finally underway here in the mountains comes the opportunity to head outdoors to our local tailgate markets. While some of them won’t set up their tents until mid-May, most tailgate markets have already begun their season. […]

MOUNTAIN MAJESTY: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most beloved and most visited sites in the National Park System, attracting millions of visitors and tourist dollars to the region each year. Its creation was the result of over a decade of legislative wrangling, relentless promotion and fundraising, and the tireless efforts of WNC residents such as George Masa, a Japanese immigrant who helped introduce the Smokies to the American people through his photography. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville

George Masa and the birth of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“These efforts really are about protecting places for all Americans and for future generations,” notes Brent Martin of The Wilderness Society. The leaders of the national parks movement, he maintains, “all saw a much bigger picture, not only for all human beings, but for all living things.”

RETURN OF THE RAIL: For more than 20 years, a collective of WNC communities between Asheville and Salisbury have strived for the return of regular passenger rail service into the region. At a March 2 meeting, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee outlined a new three-pronged strategy to reinvigorate freight service, expand excursion train opportunities and explore a pilot thruway bus service into the region through Amtrak. Photo by Max Hunt

WNC Rail Corridor Committee hatches new strategy

For more than 20 years, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee has worked tirelessly to prove the economic viability of restoring the historic rail link between Salisbury and Asheville. With changes in the rail industry looming and younger travelers showing increased interest in train travel, the committee is partnering with towns and municipalities and freight rail companies to pursue a new, three-pronged strategy.

ICYMI 3/30

ICYMI: Xpress feature reads of the week

Ahh, Spring is in the air! The tourists are buzzing around downtown and the lovely smell of Bradford pear trees is wafting on the breeze….which means we’re probably in for a heavy frost or one more freak snow shower in the coming weeks. Anyway, here’s some feature stories from the past week, if you’re looking […]

INTERACTIVE EDUCATION: The new Zaniac Asheville STEM education center, which celebrates its grand opening on April 19, engages children grades kindergarten through eight through interactive learning modules, game-based curriculums and hands-on instruction to foster interest in technology and engineering principles at an early age. Photo courtesy of Zaniac Corporation

Zaniac brings innovative STEM education to Asheville

A recent Forbes magazine article asked whether Asheville could be “an emerging Silicon Valley.” And while some locals might wonder where the jobs that one might expect to come with such a claim are to be found, there’s little debate about the importance of getting young students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — […]

garden wtrclr

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 […]

Emergency Services Director Jerry VeHaun has led Buncombe County’s disaster preparedness and response for 43 years. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Prepper paradise: WNC survivalis­ts prize community, readiness

Preppers — those who focus on preparing themselves and their families for disruptions or disasters — are a diverse group. From those who plan for the possibility of a three-day power outage to others who store many years’ worth of food against a global apocalypse, Western North Carolina’s preppers employ a wide range of strategies for hedging their bets against an uncertain future.

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. […]