The air fills with natural scents. The grounds are overrun with herbalists, home gardeners and curious nature lovers. And the bounty is plentiful. Nature at its best comes alive when you experience the largest assortment of fresh herbs in one place when the Asheville Herb Festival marks its 25th anniversary:
- On May 1–3, 2015
- At the WNC Farmers Market
More than 60 herb growers from the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina and Tennessee converge to share their fresh herbs with shoppers. The WNC Farmers Market sits at the intersection of Interstates 40 and 26 in West Asheville.
The market features a slew of fresh plants ready to be transplanted to your yard, potting garden or porch. You’ll also find vendors selling herbal products ranging from lotions and salves to shampoos, soaps and herbal healing medicines.
Indulge in a fresh-cooked herbal lunch during the fair’s hours that run from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Friday and Saturday and from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Sunday. Pick up books on how to cook with herbs, use herbs for healing and enjoy herb gardening. Representatives of Bee City USA and the Center for Honeybee Research will show off exhibits and give presentations.
The Master Gardeners from the Buncombe County Extension Service will be on hand during the festival to answer gardening questions. The Asheville Herb Festival is a must-do for beginning gardeners, herb lovers and seasoned growers alike. More than 35,000 visitors attend each year.
Grow Your Own Herbs
Growing herbs is relatively easy even for the novice gardener. And with the guidance you’ll receive at the fair, coupled with the variety available for experimentation, it’s a great time to start a new hobby that’s both healthy and fun.
The Master Gardeners from North Carolina State University Extension Center advise newbies to start with herbs you enjoy and will use. Basil, fennel and oregano are common herbs, for example, that you can add to any Italian dish. Lemon verbena and lavender make great scents in a potpourri, while peppermint, blue balsam mint and chamomile are ideal for brewing tea.
The best growing conditions vary depending on the herb, but a few basic guidelines will get you started:
- Plant herbs in spots with good drainage.
- Raise plant beds if water tends to gather in spots.
- Use regular garden soil, mixed with organic matter, for the best results.
- Choose planting sites that get an average of six hours sunlight every day.
- Go easy on the fertilizer. Too much reduces the concentration of herbal oils in fast-growing leafy herbs.
Spend a few hours persuing the 60-plus herb stands at the fair before making your final choices, or go right to your favorite herb growers to stock up on annual plants if you’ve already got a thriving perennial herb garden growing. Start with one or two herbs and add on each year as you discover the joys of natural cooking, fresh ingredients picked in your backyard and a renewed sense of connection with your Appalachian roots.
For more information contact the Asheville Herb Festival at 828-301-8968 or visit the website at www.ashevilleherbfestival.com.