ROLLING ALONG: The 11th annual Tour de Pumpkin on Oct. 7 will let cyclists enjoy the countryside around Rutherfordton with tour distances of 50 or 100 kilometers. The ride is one of several cycling events that celebrate the crisp weather and brilliant colors of autumn. Photo courtesy of the Tour de Pumpkin

ICYMI: Xpress stories from the issue of Sept. 27, 2017

From the area’s largest single construction project to fall planting, Xpress has the scoop on local fall happenings. Here are some of our best stories from the previous week to keep you reading as you wait for our next issue, coming to a paper box near you on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Goldenseal, a popular forest farming crop, is grown for medicinal use. Photo courtesy of Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition

Workshop shares knowledge for raising crops on the forest floor

Many cultures around the world cultivate native, shade-loving plants beneath the forest canopy. Recently, more farmers in the United States have been getting excited about the potential of forest farming to diversify their crops while preserving natural environments. A forest farming workshop on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, is geared to farmers of all levels who are interested in growing in the shade.

The Seasons of Grace garden at the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women produced a bumper crop of squash and other fruits and vegetables in its first season. Photo courtesy of the Seasons of Grace garden project

Inmates grow through gardening program

Sally Reeske has been teaching horticulture at the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women, a minimum-custody prison, for the past two years. While the vocational course through A-B Tech offers inmates hands-on learning and training opportunities via an instructional plot, Reeske wondered if she could do even more for the incarcerated women and the community at […]

IN THE BEGINNING: Reputed to be the third oldest river in the world, the French Broad has gone from a polluted industrial dumping ground to a key cog in Western North Carolina’s outdoor and tourism industries. This renaissance is a result of government, nonprofit, and individual efforts to improve water quality throughout the watershed. Photo by Mike Belleme; courtesy of Transylvania Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority

Communitie­s along Upper French Broad work to restore water quality

In this two-part series, Xpress invites you on a guided a trip down the river as we examine the work of various communities to write the next chapter in the French Broad’s history, beginning with Transylvania and Henderson counties.

GROWING PROFITS: Researchers at the Upper Mountain Research Station study the potential of medicinal herbs as a lucrative crop for area farmers. At the Aug. 15 Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast, speaker Margaret Bloomquist will introduce attendees to the prospect of this blooming market. Photo courtesy of the Jeanine Davis Program at N.C. State University

Aug. 15 breakfast to introduce farmers to thriving market

While Western North Carolina is already known for producing high-quality medicinal herbs, there’s still plenty of potential for growers to get in on the ground floor of a market that appears poised to expand. Farmers and others interested in opportunities in medicinal herbs can learn more at the Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast on Aug. 15.

IT'S EVERYWHERE: A view of Chimney Rock surrounded by kudzu. Photo courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park

Krazy with Kudzu looks at good and bad of invasive vine

While pretty much everyone agrees kudzu is a big problem across the South, there seem to be as many philosophies for dealing with it as there are leaves on the vines. At Chimney Rock State Park’s Krazy with Kudzu event on Aug. 12, park visitors can learn about a variety of approaches to living with — or destroying — the pervasive plant.

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.