Western North Carolina farmers markets are springing up! At early spring markets, find fresh greens, spring onions and asparagus; meats, cheeses, baked goods, value-added farm products like preserves, and a wide selection of plant starts and, of course, flowers.

Springtime tailgate markets popping up: Where to shop this season

(Go to the bottom of this article for a listing of local tailgate markets) When the springtime flowers start popping up in the mountains, the tailgate markets are never far behind. Though the full harvest is still around the corner, many markets have already begun selling fresh, local foods in outdoor locations around the region […]

‘IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SYNERGIES’: To increase soil fertility, Living Web Farms keeps cover crops growing in different sections of its greenhouse at all times. “We try to give each bed one season in cover crops. This greatly helps with disease issues, which are major problems when you keep growing the same crops repeatedly,” says Patryk Battle, director of the nonprofit educational and research farm. Inset, Battle tosses fall cover crop seeds into a stand of summer cover crop. Courtesy photos

Regenerati­ve farming offers keys to a sustainabl­e future

Regenerative farming methods that use cover crops and other techniques to build soil fertility and boost the resilience of crops to stresses like drought are taking root in North Carolina. Gabe Brown and Russell Hedrick are among the pioneers in these techniques who will be speaking in WNC in connection with the Organic Growers School’s spring conference and related events.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Siblings Althea and Matthew Raiford will share lessons learned on their Brunswick, Ga. farm. The Raifords advocate specializing in a well-curated selection of crops and developing value-added products. Photo courtesy of the Organic Growers School

Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference builds sustainabi­lity, community

The Organic Growers School’s Spring Conference is hardly a new event: The annual gathering of farmers, gardeners, homesteaders and assorted sustainability seekers turns 24 this month. But organizers say those attending this year’s edition, whether they’re newbies or longtime conference regulars, will surely dig up some novel information.

BUILDING CULTURE: From the ancestors of the Ani Katuah to the first European settlers and later tobacco farmers, the evolution of human settlement and existence in the Southern Appalachians can be traced through the structure and buildings they erected to support their ways of life. The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University documents the evolution of built structures in its latest exhibit, Shelter on the Mountain, on display through May 28. Photo of an open cathedral-like hayloft of the 1951 gambrel-roof barn built by Delbert and Charlie Shelton in the Shelton Laurel community. By Earthsong Photography/ Don McGowan

Rural Heritage Museum highlights history of WNC barns

From the Ani Katuah to white settlers and tobacco farmers, barns and buildings have played a central role in defining the culture of the Southern Appalachians. Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands traces the evolution of local building practices.

HEART OF OAK: Forest researcher Tara Keyser (right) explains to a group of forest industry partners why new forestry management techniques are needed to regenerate oak trees — and how the method she is studying might help. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Bent Creek study tests method for reversing oak decline

Economically and ecologically valuable, oak trees dominate the forests of our region. But forest experts say that when the mature oak and hickory forests are cut, they are increasingly being replaced by fast-growing and aggressive yellow poplar. Researchers have been seeking solutions to the problem for decades, with little success. A new study in Bent Creek hopes to change that.

Susan Sides. Photo by Emma Grace Moon

Julian Award winner Susan Sides: Feeding our hunger for food and community

Since she was a child, Susan Sides has had her fingers in the dirt, helping her mother with the family garden. That early experience had a profound impact, fostering a passion that continues to this day: Since its inception in 2009, Sides has worked as executive director and garden manager at the Lord’s Acre in […]

SMALL BUT MIGHTY: Dogwood Alliance is a 14-person nonprofit that has made a big impact over its 20-year history. The group has convinced some of America’s largest corporations to adopt forest-friendly sourcing practices. Now it’s fighting the wood pellet industry, which the organization says is logging Southern forests and turning them into fuel for generating electricity in Europe. Photo courtesy of Dogwood Alliance

Dogwood Alliance marks two decades of defending Southern forests

As Dogwood Alliance celebrates its 20th anniversary, the local organization reflects on its accomplishments influencing the wood sourcing practices of some of America’s largest corporations. Now the group is poised to take on an even larger challenge: fighting European environmental regulations that Dogwood Alliance says are paradoxically endangering Southern forests.

SERVING OUR SERVICEMEN & WOMEN: Photos taken while at ABCCM'a Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville NC, where they have a comprehensive restoration program that addressees the needs of homeless veterans.

Brothers in arms: Local nonprofits give back to WNC veterans

With Veterans Day fast approaching, the customary forms of American celebration will be prominently on display: parades through city streets, moments of silence briefly interrupting broadcast media, solemn ceremonies at landmarks across the country, special discounts at restaurants and shops. Beyond those symbolic gestures, however, stands a large and growing need to support the many […]

INTO THE WOODS: Volunteers are developing a new demonstration forest farm at the Madison County Public Library to increase awareness and knowledge of forest farming techniques. Photo courtesy of Rachell Skerlec

Forest farming can bring economic, environmen­tal benefits to WNC

While growing food and other crops beneath the forest canopy isn’t new — it’s been practiced by indigenous and traditional cultures around the world for centuries — a new focus on forest farming is highlighting the possibilities of forest-based production of non-timber crops in Western North Carolina.

Barnaroo 2016

In Photos: Barnaroo Music Festival 2016

Andrew Scotchie is a steady force in the local music scene. Frontman of Andrew Scotchie & The River Rats, Scotchie is one of the most active touring musicians in town and the founder and coordinator of Asheville Barnaroo Music Festival, a three-day event held at Franny’s Farm in Leicester. “First and foremost, it’s a big […]