Josh Kelly by logging road

Green in brief: Small firms claim exclusion from local public solar process, Forest Service OKs Buck Project

Mike Diethelm, president and founder of Asheville-based SolFarm Solar Co., says a $10 million construction bond requirement for would-be bidders on the solar projects “knocks out so many local medium and small solar businesses, which we have a lot of in this town, and only opens it up to the big guys.”

Michael Stratton at Fairview Road Resilience Garden

Oakley residents plant seeds of community resilience

Since late March, Michael Stratton, his wife, Amanda, and a small, hardworking steering committee have managed to transform a 4,000-square-foot grassy field near Fairview Road into 15 neat garden beds, which in mid-April were already speckled with green sprouts of onions, potatoes, kale, chard and more. The group plans to donate the produce to food pantries and neighbors in need due to COVID-19.

Natalie Bogwalker at Wild Abundance

Natalie Bogwalker develops natural skills at Wild Abundance

Classes take place on a hilly, wooded eco-homestead campus featuring Bogwalker’s self-constructed cabin, gardens and fruit trees, and students can choose to camp on the property for a full immersion into a more sustainable way of life. “We are permaculture in action, a living example of the beauty and abundance of the land,” she says.

Isa Whitaker

Isa Whitaker builds community resilience through gardening

As coordinator of Bountiful Cities’ Asheville Buncombe Community Garden Network, Whitaker manages communication, educational programming and resources such as free seed and tool libraries for more than two dozen local gardening efforts. And after COVID-19 began impacting life in Western North Carolina, he’s seen an increase in the number of local residents interested in starting new community gardens.

Leah Penniman

Organic Growers School Spring Conference ushers in the WNC growing season

Now in its 27th year, the Organic Growers School Spring Conference welcomes growers and sustainability-minded folks of all types for a weekend of region-specific educational offerings, a trade show, seed exchange, guest speakers and opportunities for socializing and networking. This year’s conference takes place Friday-Sunday, March 6-8, at Mars Hill University.

Jewish Farmer Network cultivates ancient agricultur­al wisdom

Despite WNC’s history of agricultural knowledge and abundance, the legacy of Jewish farming — and its deep wisdom surrounding food security, land ownership and community building — has remained shrouded in relative obscurity. The Fairview-based Yesod Farm + Kitchen is working to change that narrative.

Cannabis plants

Racial equity and NC’s budding hemp industry

Not everyone is reaping the benefits of the booming industrial hemp sector. Although hard numbers are in short supply, a 2017 survey by the Marijuana Business Daily, a Colorado-based website, found that 81% of cannabis-related business owners nationwide were white. A Thursday, Jan. 9, panel will explore the lack of representation of people of color in the growing industry and some possible solutions.