Down on the (progressive) farm

If you’ve ever wondered how a modern, sustainable-agriculture farm works, here’s a chance to see for yourself: The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association will hold its third annual tour of eight innovative family farms on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12 and 13, from 1-6 p.m. The self-guided tour will include organic vegetable farms, a Chinese medicinal-herb garden, a herd of American bison, Angora goats raised for mohair, a commercial compost operation, and North Carolina’s first certified herd of hormone- and antibiotic-free beef cattle.

People taking the tour can discover how and where some of their food is grown, and the farmers themselves will be on hand to answer questions. Visitors can learn about such innovative agricultural techniques as using beneficial insects, drip irrigation, “biodynamic” and “French intensive” gardening, and other sustainable practices.

Tour maps will be available at the French Broad Food Co-op, Earth Fare, Native Expressions and selected downtown-Asheville restaurants. A $5 per-farm donation is requested for each carload; for $20, a carload can visit all eight farms during the weekend. Proceeds will benefit the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

For more information, call 697-1153.

People are people, too

For anyone who feels passionately about human rights, take heed: The North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Human Rights Workers will hold its annual meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Asheville on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11-12. The meeting will double as a training conference for human-rights workers. Featured speakers will be the Rev. George Allison, director of the N.C. chapter of the NAACP, and Carolyn Q. Coleman, special assistant for Community Affairs to N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt.

Also, the Guardian Ad Litem program is seeking volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children involved in local court proceedings. Training classes begin Thursday, Sept. 17.

To learn more about the Human Rights Conference, call 252-4713. For details on the Guardian Ad Litem program, call 251-6130.

Remember, it’s your government

While we all love to admire (and disdain) our elected officials, many of us would be hard-pressed to explain what, exactly, these legislators actually spend their time doing. Even at the local level, government processes can seem dauntingly complex, discouraging tax-paying citizens from taking part in their community’s affairs.

In an effort to explain our local government, the League of Women Voters is sponsoring a monthly program about civic systems; each session will focus on the ins and outs of a different governmental entity. The program is designed for individuals who have never attended a city- or county-government meeting, as well as newcomers to the area who simply want to be more informed. Participants will get a close look at the purpose, the powers, the budgets and the responsibilities of each governing body. Each session will include a classroom lecture, a visit from a “celebrity” guest, a trip to the meeting of the elected or appointed group, and a wrap-up, question-and-answer period.

The program begins Monday, Sept. 14, with a look at the Asheville City School Board. Subsequent sessions will examine the Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe and Henderson; the Asheville City Council; the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners; and the Asheville Planning and Zoning Board.

For more information, or to register, call 258-8223 or 645-5442.

Happy trails

Not afraid to get your hands dirty?

To help maintain one of North Carolina’s most prominent and enjoyable hiking trails, two local environmental groups are sponsoring Environmental Champions Day on Saturday, Sept. 12. The statewide event, hosted by The Environmental Federation of North Carolina and The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, will put volunteers to work at selected sites along North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, an 875-mile route that extends from Clingman’s Dome in the west to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast.

The workday will focus on four sections of the MST: one near Buck Creek Gap, east of Asheville; one near Lake Brandt, in Greensboro; one on Falls Lake, north of Raleigh; and one near Jacksonville.

Each fall, the EFNC participates in “workplace giving” campaigns throughout the state, to give people a chance to support local, nonprofit environmental organizations that work to protect and conserve their community’s natural resources. The EFNC is an umbrella organization for 26 environmental nonprofits, including the Appalachian Trail Conference, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, North Carolina Rail Trails, the Audubon Council of North Carolina, the NC Coastal Federation and the NC Wildlife Federation.

Volunteers working on Sept. 12 can expect a busy, productive day filled with fun, camaraderie — and plenty of sweat. They will work on a variety of projects, ranging from clearing storm damage and blazing trails to building boardwalks and identifying wildflowers along the trail. Work schedules will vary, with most beginning in the morning and ending in early afternoon. All volunteers will be entered into a raffle drawing for a new bicycle.

For directions and information, contact the EFNC’s Karen Landman at (919) 687-4840; to learn more about the EFNC itself, call Sidney Cruze at (919) at the same number.

Run against Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressing neurological disorder which has tragic, debilitating effects on sufferers’ voluntary muscle control. The disease already affects close to 1 million people nationwide; and as our population ages, more than 60,000 new cases are expected each year. To raise awareness (and money) for the fight against Parkinson’s, the National Parkinson Foundation is sponsoring a 10K run/walk on Saturday, Sept. 12 in Asheville. Called Operation: Cure PD, the race is expected to draw more than 3,000 participants. If it proves successful, the NPF plans to duplicate the race in other cities around the country.

Joining the race/walk will be members of the U.S. armed forces and representatives of the local Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts councils, who will enter as contestants and also act as escorts for Parkinson’s patients wishing to participate. Individuals may join the race/walk as contestants, or they may choose to make a contribution as a “silent runner.” Event sponsors include Ingles Markets, the Radison Hotel-Asheville, Dupont Pharma, and the Asheville Pizza Company.

For more information about Operation: Cure PD, call (800) 385-9001 or 258-1452. For more about the National Parkinson’s Foundation, call Melinda Brown at (305) 243-2235.

School supplies needed

The World Market Place, a local nonprofit business selling handmade crafts produced by artisans from developing regions around the world, invites Mountain Xpress readers to help provide school supplies for students in such countries as Bosnia, Egypt, Nicaragua, Russia and the Sudan. These study kits, often shared by several students, will be given to refugee children who may have only a single notebook in which to organize their year’s lessons. Great care is taken to ensure that supplies aren’t wasted, according to a World Market Place press release; students must return a pencil stub in order to receive a new pencil.

Each study kit should contain: 4 spiral notebooks of 70-80 pages; 4 unsharpened #2 pencils; 1 plastic ruler; 1 box of 16-24 crayons or 12 colored pencils; and 1 double-bevel pencil eraser. The items will be placed in an 11″ x 16″ two-string drawbag made of sturdy cotton. Supplies of this sort should be available at this time of year for under $5.

You can help with this project by buying supplies and delivering them to the World Market Place (10 College St., Asheville); by contributing money to purchase supplies; or by making bags to hold the supplies. The project will run through Sept. 30.

For more information, call Ann Inlay at 254-8374.

Chew for charity

If you’ve ever wanted a good reason to try the Flying Frog Cafe, here’s your chance: On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the downtown eatery will host a benefit dinner for Hospitality House of Asheville, a nonprofit organization providing outreach, shelter, transitional housing and support services to the homeless in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Flying Frog owner Jay Shastri, along with his son and chef, Vijay Shastri, have created an impressive fondue-based meal for the occasion, featuring an array of dinner choices, including filet mignon, shrimp and a fresh catch of the day — all served with a selection of dipping sauces, including an apricot-and-lime sauce, a brie-and-gorgonzola sauce, a coconut curry and a Cajun remoulade. Even the desserts will be served fondue-style.

“The Hospitality House is a model agency,” Shastri said. “They’re a very dedicated group of people. Personally, I’ve always been for future generations, but to help the child, we must help the mother first.” He added that the restaurant hopes to raise $6,000 to $9,000 through the benefit. The restaurant staff will donate their time; waiters are even donating tips.

The dinner price is $25 per person. Early reservations are recommended.

For more information, contact Arenda Manning at 258-1695; forreservations, call Jay Shastri at 254-9411.

— companionably compiled by Paul Schattel

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