Asheville – At last, planting season has begun. The Asheville Spring Herb Festival is bringing many vendors of herb and vegetable starter plants to the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, N.C. for three full days to help you start your herb garden. This is considered the largest herb festival in the United States and Canada. If you need a specific herb for your favorite family recipe, this is the place to find it. The Asheville Spring Herb Festival has been promoting herbs and herbal products since 1990. The Festival runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30; and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1. You’ll find the Ag Center on Boylston Highway/Airport Road, just south of the Asheville Airport.
Seeds & Vegetables
Many vendors of herb and vegetable starter plants, including heirloom vegetables, seeds, fruit trees, exotic plants and associated products are participating in the event. A few to note are Bear Necessities Farm with many fruits & berries, edible flowers, and vegetables. Blue Sky Botanicals, which grows and gathers high quality herbs creating custom tea blends, tinctures, syrups and more. Huffman Herbs with herb plants, medicinals, herb crafts, dried herbs, pain pillows and seasonings. Sow True Seed with a collection of over 500 types of GMO-free vegetable, herb and flower seeds, and Useful Plants Nursery which is a permaculture-based nursery specializing in useful, phytonutritional, food, and medicine plants well-adapted to the Southern Appalachian mountains and its surrounding bioregions. This is only a shortlisting of the vendors presenting at the Festival. Many others will be traveling a long distance for this festive gathering — from Chattanooga, Greensboro, Statesville and Hot Springs. A complete vendor listing can be found at www.ashevilleherbfestival.org/directory.
Healing Ointments & Salves
Approximately 30 herb specialist vendors create and sell salves and ointments, culinary and medicinal extracts, soaps, body washes, and supplements. ZenJen Skin believes in using only the freshest, nutrient dense and sustainably sourced ingredients to revitalize and moisturize your skin. Coyote Cove believes that all that is needed to make a quality product is, simply, quality ingredients. They have handcrafted soaps made in small batches with all-natural ingredients including live, coconut, sustainably farmed palm kernel, Shea, avocado, and castor oils. In addition, there are hair products, creams, lotions, lip balms, and other skin care items made from scratch, using wholesome ingredients. Cara Mae offers a Potters’ Skin butter collection in many scents for deep hydration and relief from dry hands and feet. There will be scented candles by Element Tree Essentials, as well as their face masks, salt scrubs, and essential oil lip balms.
Other Activities Available
The Festival also offers free workshops on a variety of topics, from herbal extract preparation to beekeeping. They will present Asheville authors to discuss their books on herbal education. A sponsor of the 2021 Spring Herb Festival is the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, publisher of Juliet Blankespoor’s The Healing Garden: Cultivating & Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. The author will hold a book-signing and discussion of her book at a Sunday workshop.
Cecilia’s Kitchen food truck will be on-site, Argentinian-inspired empanadas, tamales, soups, salads, and gluten-free crepes. Proving Grounds Coffee is attending with their signature coffee, as well as Luscious Liquors Ice Cream bringing their cart filled with Italian gelato, decadent frozen desserts and liquor-infused ice cream. All sorts of teas, hot and cold, will be available. No need to go hungry either as visitors can easily pick up a snack or meal, or visit the Ag Center concession stand.
Developing WNC’s Agricultural Heritage
The Spring Herb Festival is organized by the WNC Herb Marketing Association, established to promote opportunities to develop the region’s agriculture and specialty products. Many young farmers and entrepreneurs join with second- and third-generation families to ensure the health and long-term future of WNC’s herb industry. Part of the purpose is to keep alive ancient traditions of natural healing and health maintenance, including bringing back—or bringing to a wider public—the recipes, methods, and treatments developed by African Americans, Native Americans, and other traditional specialists in “wise-woman” lore.
Among the sponsors of the 2021 Spring Herb Festival is the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, Smoking J’s Fiery Foods of Candler, Appalachian Seeds from West Asheville, Huffman’s Herbs in Morganton, Mills Garden Herb Farm (Statesville), Raindrop Ridge Farm (Washington, NC), Red Moon Herbs (Candler), The Farm Connection (Marshall), and Wildwood Herbal (Weaverville).
The board of directors of the WNC Herb Marketing Association, a nonprofit, includes local herb specialists and business owners. Executive Director is A. D. Reed.
Admission and parking are free. Enter the Ag Center grounds at Gate 5, one-half mile south of the Asheville Airport entrance, and head toward the back of the Ag Center to the Expo Center. Precautions will be taken for Covid-19 with the organizers following the guidance of the WNC Ag Center and its parent organization, the NC Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Festival website at www.AshevilleHerbFestival.org or at https://www.facebook.com/AshevilleHerbFestival/; or call 828-301-8968. This is a festival you don’t want to miss.