KISS ME: Bradley Johnston has worked with cows all his life, so it makes sense that the Mills River farmer feels as comfortable clowning around with the herd as he does with his human friends. Photo by Kendra Topalian

Bradley Johnston brings boutique dairy farming to Mills River

Mills River native Bradley Johnston has worked with cows all his life, but his newest venture — Mills River Creamery — is a departure from the high-volume wholesale dairy trade he used to practice. Johnston’s small herd of Jersey cows eat non-GMO feed and produce a type of milk that many find easier to digest than the usual supermarket fare.

GARDEN GLORY: Students from West Henderson High School took home the gold in this year’s battle-of-the-schools BOOST garden competition for their “peace and harmony” design. All four gardens remain in bloom and on display throughout the summer. Photo courtesy of Bullington Gardens

BOOST in bloom

Four of Bullington Gardens’ many displays have a special significance this year: Each was designed by a team of Henderson County students as part of the BOOST job skills training program. Developed to give high school sophomores with special needs real-world work experience, the Hendersonville program blooms with the promise of future success.

GREEN THUMBS UP: Buncombe County Master Gardener Volunteers are ready, willing and able to help local residents with a wide range of plant and gardening questions and conundrums. Photo courtesy of Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Get growing help this season from local Master Gardener volunteers

The Garden Helpline of the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers is now open to provide information, advice and and even a little handholding for anyone with a gardening-related question. The service is free, and volunteers are available by phone or in person at the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension office.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Siblings Althea and Matthew Raiford will share lessons learned on their Brunswick, Ga. farm. The Raifords advocate specializing in a well-curated selection of crops and developing value-added products. Photo courtesy of the Organic Growers School

Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference builds sustainabi­lity, community

The Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference is hardly a new event: The annual gathering of farmers, gardeners, homesteaders and assorted sustainability seekers turns 24 this month. But organizers say those attending this year’s edition, whether they’re newbies or longtime conference regulars, will surely dig up some novel information.