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.

CROP ROTATIONS: Once a dominant crop across WNC, tobacco production in the mountains has all but disappeared in the wake of the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, commonly referred to as the "Tobacco Buyout," which did away with the long-standing federal quota system and changed the landscape of farming in the region. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was […]

FUNGI FESTIVAL: The Ashevile Truffle Experience last weekend brought together regional truffle aficionados, enthusiasts and chefs for two days of celebration focused on the legendary fungi.

Asheville Truffle Experience returns to explore the fabled fungi

The Asheville Truffle Experience happened downtown last weekend for the second time in as many years with guest speaker appearances from regional experts and master chefs sharing their knowledge on the fabled Tuber melanosporum. A continuation of a smattering of past truffle-related events in the Asheville area, this year’s festival was organized by Susi Gott Séguret. Séguret says she […]

A PERSONAL TOUCH: Local businesses around Asheville, such as Dancing Bear Toys (above), play an indispensible role in driving the area’s economy and lending the city its unique ambiance. Through a combination of hands on ingenuity, creative approaches and a strong sense of community, Asheville’s specialty shops and boutiques are a testament to the viability of independent, locally-owned businesses in a world of big box chains and internet megastores. Photo by Max Hunt.

Local businesses drive Asheville vibe

Walk any downtown Asheville street and you’re likely to encounter some quirky storefronts offering unusual products. Together, these “specialty shops” or boutiques, most of them locally owned businesses, are a key component of the city’s distinctive flavor, attracting thousands of tourists each year and helping fuel the economy.

Image courtesy of Green Side Up Foundation

Green Side Up Foundation holds fundraiser­s Jan. 30 – Feb. 4 to support child cancer patients

As we roll into 2016, it’s easy to neglect the resolutions for the new year many of us made a month ago. But for children and their families battling cancer and dealing with the side effects of treatment, giving up or forgetting isn’t an option. To assist these children and their families in their time […]

HOMECOMING: The staff of Mountain Housing Opportunities celebrated the grand opening of The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments along with their partners on the project and local and state representatives on Thursday, Dec. 3 with a tour of the facility and housingwarming fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Mountain Housing Opportunities.

Home, sweet home: Mountain Housing Opportunit­ies celebrates The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments

In its latest efforts to increase the availability of affordable housing, the nonprofit organization Mountain Housing Opportunities hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gift registry drive Thursday evening at its brand new apartment complex, The Villas at Fallen Spruce Apartments, just off New Leicester Highway. MHO staff, partner organizations, sponsors, local and state government officials were […]

REVIVING THE HOMESTEAD: North Carolina has long been defined by its agriculture industry. As development pressures and rising land costs threaten to consume viable farmland acorss the state, public officials and private land trusts are working to preserve N.C.'s farming heritage and revitalize existing farms. Photo courtesy of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

Eyes on the future: Saving WNC’s farms

Robin Reeves is the sixth generation to grow up on her family’s Madison County farm — a lineage that dates back to before the Civil War. Reeves spent much of her youth helping her parents raise cattle, burley tobacco and tomatoes as well as her extended family in Sandy Mush. As an adolescent, she sold […]

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