Small bites: Fifth Season Gardening cultivates DIY lifestyles

A PLACE TO BREW: With a fully equipped learning space, the new Fifth Season on Tunnel Road will host weekly classes and more. Pictured from left to right are Mike Weeks, Kale Buffington and Jeremy Bruder, all of whom will be involved in leading brewing classes at the store. Photo by Cindy Kunst

After opening its flagship store in Asheville and expanding into several additional cities, Fifth Season Gardening Co. has opened a second local space on Tunnel Road. The 15,000-square-foot store aims to facilitate DIY lifestyles by stocking gardening products, including hydroponics gear, soils and more; home supplies such as canning equipment and specialty jars; and ample resources for Asheville’s homebrewing community.

“We’ve invested a lot in the brew side of things,” manager and co-owner Mike Weeks says, explaining that his fully equipped in-store learning space will host weekly classes and will be available for rental by advanced homebrewers who don’t need instruction. “Everything up until fermentation, we can do in this space,” he says.

Next up on the class schedule, staff member Jeremy Bruder leads a free, two-day course on kettle souring, a technique that uses yogurt cultures (lactobacillus) and controlled temperatures to sour the contents of the kettle over 24 hours. “Traditional souring in a commercial brewery usually requires a good bit of patience — a year or so,” Weeks says. “This technique works well for the impatient homebrewer or small-scale brewery, as it can be ready to drink within two to three weeks.”

Fortunately for pupils, Fifth Season’s space and equipment are set up to enable hands-on learning.

“If you only have one large system and 10 people standing around, not everybody gets to pitch the yeast, not everybody gets to add the hops,” he says. “We have eight kettles, so we can host up to 16 people at a time, and each kettle could have a different brew.”

With the brew area plus an in-store café, grow room, outdoor patio space and endless aisles of merchandise, the shop caters to myriad projects, including plenty of nonbeer undertakings. The cross-pollination of so many seemingly disparate disciplines in one place — gardening and kombucha-making, for example — makes Fifth Season a breeding ground for do-it-yourself potential.

“Every fall, people are putting blueberries in the ground and planting elderberries, medicinals and edibles, and then whenever that stuff comes in, we have to figure out what to do with it,” Weeks says. “That’s where the fermentation comes in. You can ferment your blueberries or your apples and make your own cider. You could take an elderberry harvest, make a simple syrup with it and add it to your kombucha.”

Fifth Season Gardening Co. is at 4 S. Tunnel Road. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Bruder’s kettle-souring course is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19-20. Visit for more information or to register for an upcoming class.

Full Circle Farm Sanctuary’s Holiday Vegan Cookie Exchange

The rules for Full Circle’s forthcoming cookie swap are simple: Bring four dozen homemade vegan cookies and get ready to barter. The event serves as a fundraiser for the animal sanctuary, which holds periodic vegan-friendly gatherings at Sanctuary Brewing Co. — a fellow animal advocacy organization. Attendees are encouraged to bring copies of their chosen recipe and a container for transporting goodies. The event offers awards for best cookies, a prize drawing, hot tea, snacks and drinks from the host brewery, and a live performance by local Americana band Letters to Abigail.

The Holiday Vegan Cookie Exchange is 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Ave. E., Hendersonville. Admission is a suggested $5 donation at the door. Visit for event details.

AIR Passport available for purchase

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association’s AIR Passport includes buy-one-get-one-free coupons redeemable at more than 40 locally owned, farm-to-table restaurants and breweries. Each coupon is valid for a single use during 2016. “I like to think of it as another way to buy local, not only for the holidays, but also throughout the year,” says AIR Executive Director Jane Anderson. “It’s a way to support independent restaurants and the farmers who in turn support them.”

AIR Passports are available for $60 online or in person at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce gift shop. Visit for information on participating businesses or to purchase.

A joint effort to support Trinity Place

Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria, Farm Burger, Juicy Lucy’s, Over Easy Café and Scully’s Bar & Grille have joined forces to collect gently worn winter clothing, backpacks, art supplies and toiletry items on behalf of Trinity Place. A subsidiary of nonprofit CARING for Children, Trinity Place provides short-term shelter for youths who are homeless or who need respite before returning to their family. Each donor gets a $5 gift certificate from his or her participating eatery of choice upon dropping off goods on a Tuesday.

The final donation drive takes place Tuesday, Dec. 22, during opening hours at each participating restaurant. Visit for more information on the beneficiary, or email Jennifer Zyla at for details on the drive.

Strada Italiano’s Feast of the Seven Fishes

Although discrepancies surround the origins and formal name of the event, the Feast of the Seven Fishes honors the Italian tradition of eating seafood during the holidays — specifically for Christmas Eve dinner. Strada Italiano’s version of the meal will include a calamari and local greens appetizer plus an entrée of fresh squid ink pasta cioppino with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and soft shell crab with garlic-arugula pesto ciabatta toast.

Strada Italiano is at 27 Broadway. The restaurant hosts its Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Tickets are $35 per person or $40 with wine. Visit to make a reservation.



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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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