GROWING PROFITS: Researchers at the Upper Mountain Research Station study the potential of medicinal herbs as a lucrative crop for area farmers. At the Aug. 15 Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast, speaker Margaret Bloomquist will introduce attendees to the prospect of this blooming market. Photo courtesy of the Jeanine Davis Program at N.C. State University

Aug. 15 breakfast to introduce farmers to thriving market

While Western North Carolina is already known for producing high-quality medicinal herbs, there’s still plenty of potential for growers to get in on the ground floor of a market that appears poised to expand. Farmers and others interested in opportunities in medicinal herbs can learn more at the Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Breakfast on Aug. 15.

IT'S EVERYWHERE: A view of Chimney Rock surrounded by kudzu. Photo courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park

Krazy with Kudzu looks at good and bad of invasive vine

While pretty much everyone agrees kudzu is a big problem across the South, there seem to be as many philosophies for dealing with it as there are leaves on the vines. At Chimney Rock State Park’s Krazy with Kudzu event on Aug. 12, park visitors can learn about a variety of approaches to living with — or destroying — the pervasive plant.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: John Stevenson has been hand-crafting his Penobscot 14 sailboat named "Sweet Dreams" since 2005. He's seen here, nearly two and a half years ago, celebrating the point of construction in which he rolls the boat over--a rollover is a major milestone in the life of a wooden boat, as they're typically built upside down.  Photo courtesy of John Stevenson

Setting sail: Launch of hand-crafted sailboat to follow 11-year build

The launch ceremony for John Stevenson’s hand-built wooden sailboat will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at the Asheville Sailing Club at Lake Julian Park, 406 Overlook Road Extension, Arden. The ceremony is free, open to the public and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided. Stevenson recommends coming early to inspect the boat pre-launch and staying later for an opportunity to sail.

KISS ME: Bradley Johnston has worked with cows all his life, so it makes sense that the Mills River farmer feels as comfortable clowning around with the herd as he does with his human friends. Photo by Kendra Topalian

Bradley Johnston brings boutique dairy farming to Mills River

Mills River native Bradley Johnston has worked with cows all his life, but his newest venture — Mills River Creamery — is a departure from the high-volume wholesale dairy trade he used to practice. Johnston’s small herd of Jersey cows eat non-GMO feed and produce a type of milk that many find easier to digest than the usual supermarket fare.

PAST AND PRESENT: UNC Asheville history professor Daniel Pierce is the author of a new book that explores history of the Hazel Creek community in Swain County, including broken promises over the so-called “Road to Nowhere.” Photo of Pierce by Audrey Keelin

Hazel Creek author Daniel Pierce details community’­s convoluted past

Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Community, by UNC Asheville history professor Daniel Pierce, explores the complex history of the so-called “Road to Nowhere” and the people it was meant to serve. Released in April, the book details the multifaceted and often overlooked story of the ill-fated town of Proctor and its inhabitants.

FOOD OR FAMINE: In the event of a natural disaster that disrupts commercial food supplies, Western North Carolina will need to develop alternative ways to grow nutritious and diverse crops, such as community gardens or neighborhood greenhouses. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Local food resilience programs plan for future disasters

A coalition of local food activists, resilience planners and city of Asheville staffers are asking a hard question: In the event of a major disaster that disrupts the food supply for more than a few days, what will people in Western North Carolina eat? A recent workshop looked for answers to that question and brainstormed strategies for collaborative solutions for securing the region’s food supply in hard times.