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.

ROLLING ALONG: The 11th annual Tour de Pumpkin on Oct. 7 will let cyclists enjoy the countryside around Rutherfordton with tour distances of 50 or 100 kilometers. The ride is one of several cycling events that celebrate the crisp weather and brilliant colors of autumn. Photo courtesy of the Tour de Pumpkin

ICYMI: Xpress stories from the issue of Sept. 27, 2017

From the area’s largest single construction project to fall planting, Xpress has the scoop on local fall happenings. Here are some of our best stories from the previous week to keep you reading as you wait for our next issue, coming to a paper box near you on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Goldenseal, a popular forest farming crop, is grown for medicinal use. Photo courtesy of Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition

Workshop shares knowledge for raising crops on the forest floor

Many cultures around the world cultivate native, shade-loving plants beneath the forest canopy. Recently, more farmers in the United States have been getting excited about the potential of forest farming to diversify their crops while preserving natural environments. A forest farming workshop on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1, is geared to farmers of all levels who are interested in growing in the shade.