LITTLE STINKERS: The brown marmorated stink bug is one of an increasing number of non-native insects that have invaded Western North Carolina. Lacking natural predators, the slow-moving, malodorous bugs present problems for homeowners and farmers. In Living Web Farms’ March 31 workshop, organic farmers will learn how to deploy purchased beneficial insects and biological agents to address infestations that aren’t readily controlled by other strategies.

Beneficial insects fight recalcitra­nt garden pests

The fight to protect food crops against destructive insect pests has become more challenging in recent years, Mills River farming expert Patryk Battle reports. Battle and Boone-based insect scientist Richard McDonald will present a March 31 workshop on when and how organic growers should take drastic measures to deal with damaging insect and disease infestations.

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Power to the people: Best of WNC 2018 voting begins

With a far out feeling, voting has begun for the beloved annual Best of WNC awards. Only you can decide who’ll be feelin’ it in the new summer of love, when winners are announced this August. You have until 11:59 p.m. on the night of Saturday, April 28 to complete your ballot and make sure your voice is heard. […]

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK: Delays introduced by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration meant growers had to scramble to get last year's industrial hemp crop in the ground in time. This year, local farmers say they're looking forward to planting on a more optimal schedule, which may improve yields. Photo courtesy of Frances Tacy

WNC’s industrial hemp growers reflect on experiment­al first season

Last year, a handful of area farmers planted the first hemp crops to be grown legally in Western North Carolina in over 70 years. That first crop was plagued by delays introduced by regulators at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who held up shipments of seeds and seedlings, leading to a late start. Growers expect a smoother process for the 2018 growing season.

THE WOODS ARE LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP: Landscape architect Sieglinde Anderson has created an extensive woodland garden at her Fairview property. She and photographer Ruthie Rosauer will invite attendees at a March 20 talk in Hendersonville to consider the possibilities and beauty of trees and the shaded areas they create. Photo courtesy of Sieglinde Anderson

Talk to celebrate options for gardening beneath the tree canopy

On March 20, landscape architect Sieglinde Anderson and photographer Ruthie Rosauer will share advice for gardening beneath and appreciating this region’s diverse and abundant tree canopy. Sponsored by the Hendersonville Tree Board, the talk will take place at 6 p.m. at the Henderson County Library Auditorium in downtown Hendersonville.

MUDDY WATER: An official meets with a hog farmer to review his animal waste management system. Photo courtesy of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Local agencies wrestle with livestock impacts on water quality

Advocates for clean water in North Carolina often focus on the eastern part of the state, which hosts one of the world’s highest concentration of hogs. But French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson emphasizes that Western North Carolina and its smaller farms are not immune from the water quality issues related to animal agriculture.