Reach for the sun: Despite being one of the fastest growing industries in the country, solar isn’t a very diverse field: In fact, only 19 percent of solar jobs are held by women. But with the technology becoming increasingly affordable and the number of jobs in the industry increasing, professionals working in the field say solar is taking off — and providing women with a lot of new opportunities.

Golden girls: How women are lighting up the solar industry

Despite being one of the fastest growing industries in the country, solar isn’t a very diverse field: In fact, only 19 percent of solar jobs are held by women. But with the technology becoming increasingly affordable and the number of jobs in the industry increasing, professionals working in the field say solar is taking off — and providing women with a lot of new opportunities.

"I was born to be a moss artist," proclaims Annie Martin. The Brevard landscaper, educator and writer will release her book, The Magical World of Moss Gardening, this month.

A mossier, more magical world: Local ‘mosser’ releases new book on moss gardening

Annie Martin — or Mossin’ Annie — is a Western North Carolina native, educator, landscape designer, farmer and champion — of mosses. She’s designed moss gardens for the North Carolina Arboretum and the Highland Botanical Station and her book, The Magical World of Moss Gardening, is being published by Timber Press and released this month.

Buzzing with activity: Sage Turner, urban beekeeper and finance manager for the French Broad Food Co-Op, keeps hives in her West Asheville backyard and on the roof of the co-op building. Turner is one of a growing number of Ashevilleans who have taken up beekeeping to protect pollinators from threats including habitat loss and pesticides.

Pollinator week creates a buzz for the bees

Bee City USA will host its third annual Pollinator Celebration, a week of pollinator-centric events — held from Thursday, June 11, until Sunday, June 21 — designed to invite the public into the world of pollinators. The Asheville celebration aligns with National Pollinator Week sponsored by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Finding something lost: A sense of serenity and a connection to others are two of the things often lost in addiction, notes Craig White of First Step Farm. But those are also the very two things this farm-based recovery program seeks to grow.

Harvesting serenity: First Step Farms uses agricultur­e to overcome addiction

First Step Farms WNC is two farmsteads, both located on historic farmland in Candler. One site grows vegetable starts for small farms; the other grows flowers for weddings and school graduations. But the farms’ primary purpose goes beyond agriculture — the two sites are home to a substance abuse recovery program that uses farming to restore self-confidence in recovering addicts.

The answer to suburbia: Robert Eidus says the raised bed containing ginseng and goldenseal that sits off his back deck is a sustainable solution for resupplying your herbal medicine chest in the face of a diminishing supply of these highly sought plants.

Overharves­ting of forest plants calls for mindful consumers

With interest in wild edibles and native medicinals growing, the demand on these plants is quickly exceeding the supply — leading to over-harvesting, poaching and a risk of extinction. When browsing the stands at the farmers market or the shelves in an herbal shop, how can you know if the plants and products you’re purchasing are supporting sustainable, local growers or contributing to a growing problem?

“The design concept was just to stack them like they would be in a container yard," architect and designer Douglas Hecker says of the Smoky Park Supper Club. “We wanted that association between the containers and the industrial past of the River Arts District.”

City building blocks: Shipping container structures are stacking up in Asheville

Shipping containers seem to be the new architectural craze, and with the construction of the Smoky Park Supper Club — Asheville’s first commercial structure built from containers (19 of them, to be exact) — city residents and visitors will soon get to explore one of these buildings up close. But what is it about the look of these large steel boxes that has so captured our imagination?

Don't chicken out: Recent relaxing of city restrictions mean Asheville is “chickening” like never before. But many would be chicken-keeepers don’t realize the birds stop producing eggs early in their life, yet still require care and attention to survive. As the interest in backyard chicken keeping raises so do the number of abandoned and neglected animals.

Backyard chicken keeping not as easy as it’s cracked up to be

Recent relaxing of city restrictions mean Asheville is “chickening” like never before. But many would be chicken-keeepers don’t realize the birds stop producing eggs early in their life, yet still require care and attention to survive. As the interest in backyard chicken keeping raises so do the number of abandoned and neglected animals.

Cleaner is cheaper

Taking a hard look: WNC’s sustainabi­lity report card

As we celebrate Earth Day 2015, we take a look at the status of the sustainability movement in WNC. How far have we come, and how far do we have to go? We asked local nonprofits and regulatory agencies to take us to school by examining our environmental efforts — from our air to our water, from our successes to our failures — and giving us an honest assessment of how we’re doing.

Room to grow: Thanks to a grant from TD Bank and the National Arbor Day Foundation, Asheville GreenWorks has installed a production orchard and community green space in a vacant lot in Hillcrest Apartments.

A community orchard brings a new green space to Hillcrest

Over the years, Hillcrest Apartments has lost several trees leaving the neighborhood to feel a bit barren. Hillcrest residents knew that the environmental nonprofit Asheville GreenWorks had planted fruit trees in other public housing developments, and hoped to see a similar project come to their neighborhood. Turns out, planting an orchard in Hillcrest was on GreenWorks’ to do list as well.

Mother Earth News Fair

Mother Earth News Fair gets down and dirty in Asheville

Mother Earth News Fair returns to the Western North Carolina Agriculture Center on Saturday, April 11, and Sunday, April 12, marking the fair’s second consecutive appearance in Asheville. The fair is an opportunity for fans of the bi-monthly environmental magazine to get hands-on experience with the topics covered in the publication from sustainable agriculture to green home building.