TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

Black Mountain librarian Denise King. Photo by Carrie Eidson

Check it out: Seed sharing is sprouting at the library

The premise of a seed library is relatively simple — patrons of the library “check out” their selections to grow the season’s crops and then return usable seeds from their harvest at the end of the season. The goal is to provide a free source of locally adapted crops and contribute to the biodiversity of local agriculture. Ideally, as the seed library continues to operate, the number of seeds and varieties available will continue to increase.

Case dismissed, but it’s not over yet: Small growers vow to fight Monsanto-attachment0

Case dismissed, but it’s not over yet: Small growers vow to fight Monsanto

In her essay on the hazards attending genetic engineering, author Barbara Kingsolver raises the question: “What will it mean for a handful of agribusinesses to control the world’s ever-narrowing seed banks?” Asheville’s Sow True Seed has an idea, and they’re ready to fight back. (Cathryn Zommer shows off Sow True Seed’s “Harvest Goddess” street puppet, above.)