More than a dozen ways to celebrate Asheville Earth Week

WAY TO GROW: The film Seed: The Untold Story talks about how, after less than a century of industrial agriculture, seed diversity has been diminished to a handful of mass-produced varieties. See a free screening of the film at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s local campus as part of Asheville Earth Week. Image courtesy of Collective Eye Films

Earth Day was initiated by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in response to a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda,” says the Earth Day Network’s website. The inaugural national observation was no sleeper: 20 million Americans rallied for environmental causes on April 22, 1970.

Now, 47 years later, the movement has only grown more viable. This year, the city of Asheville and its partners (Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Equinox, Asheville GreenWorks, New Belgium Brewing, Organic Growers School, MountainTrue and RiverLink) got serious about the environment, scheduling not just a mere Earth Day celebration, but a full roster of activities for Asheville Earth Week. Those events and others are listed below. For more Earth Day festivities, visit Clubland, Calendar and

Friday, April 21

ALL-AGES ACTIVISM: Asheville GreenWorks and RiverLink present the free, family-friendly Earth Day Kid’s Festival at Salvage Station. There, games, faceprinting and stilt walking meet environmental education. Photo courtesy of RiverLink
ALL-AGES ACTIVISM: Asheville GreenWorks and RiverLink present the free, family-friendly Earth Day Kids Festival at Salvage Station. There, games, face painting and stilt walking meet environmental education. Photo courtesy of RiverLink
  • Mountain True is coordinating service projects, such as cleanups along the French Broad River and invasive plant removal at local parks. Companies can sign up by emailing or calling 828-258-8737, ext. 216.
  • Also on Friday, take a self-guided sustainability tour at 3:30 p.m. along the newest section of the French Broad River Greenway, starting at a new trailhead at the intersection of Emma Road and Craven Street.

Saturday, April 22

  • Brother Wolf’s Run for the Paws begins at 9 a.m. at New Belgium Brewing, 21 Craven St. The race is “the only 5K in Western North Carolina where dogs aren’t just allowed, they’re invited,” says the event website. “Join hundreds of animal lovers and their four-legged friends as we run and walk to raise money for pets in need.” Register as an individual or team at 
  • Asheville GreenWorks is teaming up with RiverLink for the Earth Day Kids Festival. The free, family-friendly event will be held at Salvage Station, 468 Riverside Drive, and features local environmental educators discussing topics ranging “from recycling to birds of prey.” There will be games, face painting, music, stilt walkers and more. “We also want to showcase the Earth as a source of artistic inspiration,” says the website for the gathering. “Therefore, the festival will host many eco-friendly arts and crafts. It will also be the first display of RiverLink’s Voices of the River: Art and Poetry contest entries for 2017.” The theme is “We are all connected!” and winners will be announced at the festival. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 
  • Sylva’s annual Greening Up the Mountains festival, now in its 20th year, fills the streets of that mountain town with arts and crafts, vendors, food, children’s activities, a farmers market and musical acts on two stages. “Greening up the Mountains began as an Earth Day celebration, and continues to keep its focus on environmental protection, sustainability and promotion of local businesses and civic groups,” says a press release for the event. The day kicks off at 9 a.m. with a 5K run and walk at Mark Watson Park ($17.50 to register). The 20th annual Mountain Youth Talent Contest takes place at the Sun Trust lot on Main Street and an open mic — for those not yet ready to compete — will be set up at the south end of the festival. “The Traditional Heritage Walk, hosted by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia and Dogwood Crafters, is located at the southern end of Main Street in a parking lot next to the Sylva Herald newspaper’s office,” says a press release. There, demonstrators show their skills at woodcarving, chair caning, cornshuck dollmaking, basketmaking, crochet, knitting and more. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • The March for Science, which coincides with a national movement, will leave from Aston Park in Asheville at 10 a.m. and end at Pack Square with speakers and information booths. “Many people, not just those in science fields, believe that the institution of science, and data that comes from accepted methodologies, should be used to shape public policy,” says local engineer Tawnya Sowerwine in a press release. “For me, the march is a stand against those who seek to squelch the flow of science-driven information between governmental agencies and the people.”
PICTURES OF HOME:  Durham-based environmental artist Marjorie Pierson shares images of delicate landscapes in the exhibition Struck by Nature, on display at The Collider. "Duckweed #4," copyright 2017 by Marjorie Pierson, all rights reserved
PICTURES OF HOME: Durham-based environmental artist Marjorie Pierson shares images of delicate landscapes in the exhibition Struck by Nature, on display at The Collider. “Duckweed #4,” copyright 2017 by Marjorie Pierson, all rights reserved
  • • Take part in an Earth Day Skill Share Fair, organized by Transition Asheville and the Earth Team of First Congregational United Church of Christ. “Participants can choose from a variety of practical skills that can help us live more sustainably on Earth,” says a press release, including tree planting, tree identification, energy efficiency, worm composting, solar-oven building, basic carpentry and other DIY projects. Meet at the First Congregational UCC, 20 Church St., on Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For info, email 
  • Join Sweeten Creek Brewing’s Earth Day Celebration, “a day of Earth-friendly fun, delicious beer, and good food out on our Creekside Lawn,” as described by the brewery’s Facebook invitation. Activities run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; the Circus Mutts play live music from 2:30 to 4:40 p.m. 1127 Sweeten Creek Road, 
  • Take a walk in the woods at Earthaven Ecovillage in Black Mountain as part of the Earth Day workshop Toward a Perennial Plant-Based Agriculture. Professor T. Bud Barkslip, aka Bill Whipple, leads the presentation. “Through simple horticultural skills that work with nature’s intelligence, the professor believes we can develop agricultural conglomerates throughout the region without owning an acre of land or a plant,” says a press release for the program. “The Earth Program includes a demonstration of seed and clonal grafting for improved native species; modeling transitioning woodlots into highly productive orchards through the processing potential of native nuts; and implementing a cooperative of nutteries.” 2-5 p.m. Donations benefit Barkslip’s Acornucopia Project. 
  • Asheville GreenWorks, the Organic Growers School, Bountiful Cities, Green Opportunities, Sow True Seed and Lenoir-Rhyne University present a screening of the documentary SEED: The Untold Story at the Lenoir-Rhyne boardroom, 36 Montford Ave. 5:30-8 p.m. Free. 
  • The Blue Ridge Orchestra will celebrate Earth Day with a special concert — Cantus Terrae (or Songs of the Earth) at the Folk Art Center, Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 382. The performance includes “two of the greatest musical tributes to nature: Aaron Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ and Beethoven’s 6th Symphony,” according to a press release. Milton Crotts conducts. Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. $15 general/$10 friends of the Blue Ridge Orchestra/$5 students.

Sunday, April 23

  • Learn about backyard composting during an hourlong workshop at the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center, 285 Livingston St. 1 p.m. Free. Composting bins will be available for $10. Then, from 2 to 5 p.m., join a walking tour of the future Town Branch Greenway, take part in the city’s 30 Trees in 30 Days tree-planting initiative and learn or share history of the Southside neighborhood. 
  • Eat, drink and be vegan at Mother Earth’s Bucket List, an Earth Day celebration at The BLOCK off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. The evening includes a screening of the documentary Cowspiracy followed by a free, gourmet meal. Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m. 
  • The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina holds an Earth Day Vigil “celebrating God’s creation and calling on people of faith to care for it,” according to a press release. The gathering takes place at Pritchard Park with song, reflection and “messages of inspiration and action from local faith and community leaders” at 5 p.m. A reception follows at Jubilee! Community, 46 Wall St. (Jubilee! will also serve as the rain location).

Other events

  • AVL People’s Climate March and rally, a sister event to the Climate March taking place in Washington, D.C., launches Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. in Pack Square Park with speakers. Following a sidewalk march, the group will reconvene in the park for music and activities. 
  • The Collider (a self-described “nonprofit innovation center focused on catalyzing market-driven climate solutions,” located on the top floor of the Wells Fargo building, 1 Haywood St.) hosts Struck by Nature, an exhibition by Durham-based environmental artist Marjorie Pierson. “Pierson’s primary subject is evolving coastal wetlands, particularly those in her native south Louisiana,” says a press release for the exhibit. “There, sea level rise and land subsidence are combining to sink a football field of wetlands into the Gulf [of Mexico] every hour.” Struck by Nature is on display through August and can be viewed, by appointment, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Call 828-254-6283, ext. 101, or email
About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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