Farm & Garden: Spring herb festival brings together people, plants and products

PLENTIFUL PLANTS: With over 65 vendors at this years Asheville Herb Festival, there is no shortage of medicinal and culinary herbs, native herbs, flowers and heirloom vegetables. Photo by Carrie Eidson

With our growing season just getting underway in the mountains, we lucky enough to have the largest herb festival in the country about to take place right in our backyard. The 27th annual Asheville Herb Festival has been billed as the biggest herb focused event of its kind in the Southeast for the past 15 years — but recently received its status as the largest in the U.S. and Canada, thanks to research from the Herb Society of America.

More than 35,000 visitors are expected to attend this year’s event, which is being hosted by the WNC Chapter of the North Carolina Herb Association. The larger-than-normal expected turnout is due in part to this year’s presence of the Herb Society of America, which is holding its annual convention in Asheville over the festival weekend.

Herbs are definitely at the core of the huge family-friendly event — with a vast selection of plants and products from independent vendors. Attendees will find herbs for cooking, gardening and medicinal use; herbal soaps, lotions, tinctures, teas, dried herbs and flowers, herb-related crafts, gifts and books. And if you work up an appetite while walking through the maze of options that the festival offers, there will be vendors selling herbal-infused lunches, beverages and baked goods.

In addition to the knowledge provided by more than 65 vendors, there will be plenty of experts on hand to answer questions about planting, growing and caring for herbs. The N.C. Agricultural Extension Service information booth will be staffed by local master gardeners certified by the Buncombe County Extension.

The Asheville Herb Festival takes place Friday through Sunday, April 29-May 1, at the WNC Farmers Market. Parking and admission is free, but the organizers suggest that you bring along cash for some of the smaller herb vendors that can’t accept credit or debit cards. In addition, it is a good idea to bring your own tote bags, cart or even a wagon to carry your unique herbal finds.

For more information about the festival visit ashevilleherbfestival.com or to find out more about the Herb Society of America and their annual meeting visit herbsociety.org

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