25th Annual Asheville Herb Festival
I made it! Finally. I always miss it. But this year, when a friend told me she saw lots of hops for sale at the Asheville Herb Festival when she went on Friday, I got a little picnic packed and my family “up and at ’em” so that we could explore it to see what we could find for ourselves.
Hops are my new Mr. Toad-esque mania. I tend to hop from one grand idea to another, just as the Disney version of Kenneth Grahame’s obsessive compulsive amphibian from The Wind in the Willows does with new inventions. Because I live near Beer City, Asheville, NC, and more and more microbreweries are popping up all over Western North Carolina, I was inspired to start experimenting with hops growing on my farm. I don’t have a tremendous amount of open pasture to work with, but because hops vines grow vertically, I have just enough room for a pretty good yearly harvest.
So off to the festival we went, with a soft-sided cooler full of lunch goodies, and a wish list that included hops, English Lavender, and Roma tomato plants.
What I found was a whole lot more!
Big, beautiful watermelons like I haven’t seen since I was a kid growing up in Florida.
Strawberries from Coole Farms that we could smell before we could see.
I had lots of choices in tomatoes, and did end up with a 4-pack of Better Boys and one of the Romas I was looking for.
Ginseng, or ‘Sang, as the locals call it on that crazy reality show. So that’s what it looks like. That can put your kids through college and bring poachers to your mountain property? I don’t know, but I found these for sale by the North Carolina Ginseng & Goldenseal Company and Eagle Feather Organic Farm. Goldenseal is one of the medicinal herbs that I use in capsule form, so it was useful to see so much information on both plants at this booth.
Stevia. I was tempted, but since I don’t use the natural sugar substitute much, I decided to save room in my beds for things I use a lot of.
An abundance of medicinal and culinary herbs. Beautiful signs, too! Very Hobbit Shire.
Wisteria. I need a real porch before I can add this to the farm. We only have a stoop, at this point.
I was very excited to see the Mountain Farm booth because I’ve been following the lavender farm on Facebook and am excited about the products and produce they have to offer. Now if I can just make it to the farm for one of their events. Lavender this and lavender that. So pretty.
Because customers are looking down at the plants, I saw several of them miss this sign and hit the canopy. And because we see these two nearly every time I walk our local river trail with my family, and one of us always says duck…duck…goose! when we do, I was really hoping the other side of the sign said goose. It did! I’m so easily amused it’s ridiculous.
BIG basket of flowers.
BIG morels. This one was at least the length of my arm, elbow to fingertips.
Forest-grown Trillium. I’ve always wanted them on my farm, but if I planted them I’d have no reason to go searching for wild ones each spring in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Lamb’s Quarters. Whoops! I’m pretty sure I’ve pulled and composted this on my little farm. And then I turn around and buy it at the natural food store. I will pay closer attention to my “weeds” from now on.
Medicinal and culinary treats from Sage Herbal Apothecary.
Sage Herbal Apothecary
120 Terrace Drive
Weaverville, NC 28787
Worm castings for sale. Get your worm poo!
Love the name. Holy Smoke.
My boys’ favorite vendor…well…second to the ice cream truck. The carnivorous plant booth.
Carnivorous Plant Connection
PO Box 673
Leicester, NC 28748
www.carnivorousplantconnection.com I wouldn’t want to be a fruit fly buzzing too close to these sticky things. Having boys, we’ve been through a few meat-eating plants over the years, but we were convinced enough by the grower of these ferocious beasts to give it another try. He told us that the secret is to plant them outside –not in a window, as we had always done– in a very large pot of peat. Because we have seen pitcher plants growing in the shallows of a mountain lake, we asked if we could grow them near our creek. He assured us that we could, if we chose a sunny location. My sons want to wait until the plants are a little bigger before letting them run wild, even though my husband assured them that they would be fine.
If a deer tries to eat them, the plants will bite it back.
Silly man cracks me up.
We ended up with a combination of tiny pitcher and fly trap plants to add to my basket of lavender, chamomile, and baby rhubarb.
And…the German girl found her hops! 6 plants for under $10! Great deal. Now cross your fingers that they survive a season of experimentation under my care.
Needless to say, I’m sold on this whole herbfest idea and can’t wait till next year!