Arts + Entertainment

The cultivation of agriculture is the first and most important way Homo sapiens differentiate themselves from other creatures.

A cadre of curious animals gathers at the gate as Joe Moore, owner of Indian Springs Farms in Bethel, approaches the pasture. 

“Hello girls,” he says, addressing the herd of bright-eyed, tuft-headed alpacas. As he opens the door, some draw near to sniff his shirt or hands, while others — the shier ones, presumably — hang back to gauge the situation from afar.

fr drexelIdeas surrounding the fate of a vacant factory building in Whittier have been swirling since Jackson County commissioners started taking a serious look at its future earlier this year. Turn it into an agriculture center? Make it a recreation park? Deed it to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians? Demolish it?

fr drexelA plan to turn the old Drexel furniture factory in Whittier into a Mecca of resources for small-time farmers and agricultural producers in Western North Carolina is likely dead in its tracks after a building assessment found it would take $1.7 million to get the building up to code.

fr drexelThe old Drexel furniture factory in Whittier isn’t producing much these days, unless you count bird nests and ivy vines as products. Tall grasses wave across the 21-acre property, obscuring the wood pallets strewn across the yard and reaching into a crumbling woodshed offset from the main building. Vines spider across the building’s brick exterior, and swallows dart and dive in the grasses.

fr petacowsSwarming flies. Cows trudging through knee-deep manure. Lame legs, an overgrown hoof, blood oozing from a nose. Bones protruding from emaciated bodies. There’s no denying that the picture painted in a recently released video from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was a grim one.  

out frJacob Flannick • SMN Correspondent

Jonathan and Abby Landry don’t limit the spirit of giving to the holiday season. For this couple, giving is a way of life. And their gift of choice is eggs.

They share them with friends, neighbors and colleagues, rarely leaving home without a few eggs on the back seat to bestow on whoever they might run into that day. Their philanthropy in the egg department doesn’t go unnoticed.

out frBy Colby Dunn • SMN Correspondent

What makes the stem of one pumpkin better than another for chunkin’? Why is one gourd so tiny, yet its neighbor so plump? What tints their hues from muted to mottled to blinding fluorescence? And will they grow up the same again and again, year after year? 

While such Seussian musings may sound like they belong more in children’s poems than scientist’s papers, they’re actually real research questions asked each year by the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Though admittedly, they probably phrase them a little differently. 

An abandoned, county-owned furniture factory in Whittier could transform into a center for agritourism in Jackson County, or it could become something entirely different.

Trial by dirt

coverWhile sunlight, water and good soil may seem a simple enough equation for getting a plant from seed to fruit, like anything it becomes a lot more complicated when people are involved.

During the past decade, community gardens have been sprouting up across Western North Carolina — from Canton to Cherokee to Sylva. Churches and charity organizations use them as a supply of produce to feed the needy; schools use them as places to teach kids about agriculture and plants; and gardeners use them as social gathering spots and as a source of healthy food. 

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