The Lord’s Acre

yard gardenYou’ve probably seen some of the slogans: Stop Mowing – Start Growing; Food Not Lawns; Eat Your Yard But why do these folks give a hoot whether we mow or don’t mow? Were they forced to mow a mile uphill in the snow as kids, or what? From what I can tell, it’s a vision, and a broad one at that: a vision of the future that comes from nostalgia for the past I know I remember eating from the huge fruit trees in my grandma’s back yard and the pecan trees in my husband’s grandma’s yard Free food. And at the price of fruit and pecans, those grannies were rich.

cherriesLast year I planted several cherry trees, three pawpaws, blueberries, asparagus, a mulberry and a few hazelnuts, and I figure my future grandchildren will love me for it. And I also figure I’ll feel rich just like our grandmas did . . . like maybe your grandparents did.

When I do the two-column thing, pros and cons, on mowing vs. food, it does look sort of obvious — mow-money-pollution vs. investment-upkeep-food. Some perennial crops are easier to grow than others in our area, and a good nursery person can help steer you in that direction. And while the trees and bushes are filling in, you can grow some awesome vegetables in between.

gardenIf you do a little research on the permaculture (permanent agriculture — think perennials) scene in Asheville, you’ll find many classes and tours, which is how I saw how much food some folks are getting out of their tiny little yards. Why, there are folks in California (okay, granted, it’s California) who grow 6,000 lbs of food on 1/10th of an acre! They have NO lawn (urbanhomestead.org). At The Lord’s Acre, Fairviewan Scott Baxla harvested over 120 lbs of potatoes from three beds of maybe 4’ X 3’ that he’s experimenting with.

rhubarbPersimmons, grapes, figs, blueberries, rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries, and all manner of tree fruits and nuts can be in our food-growing future as individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. And in Fairview, once we’ve had our fill and shared all we can with our neighbors, our excess can go to the Share-the-Harvest Market, the Fairview Welcome Table or Food For Fairview.

Fall is a great time to transplant perennial food plants, so do your own pros and cons list and see what wins out. In the box below are listed just some of the local sources for edible perennials in our area.

Addams Family Comes to Life

ticketsThe Addams Family Comes to Asheville

The Asheville Community Theatre is opening its 69th season with the WNC Premiere of the musical comedy The Addams Family, which will run from Friday, October 3–Sunday, October 26; Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 pm, Sunday afternoons at 2:30 pm.

The production, featuring an original story with both classic and new characters, is the perfect Halloween treat for the entire family.

Tickets are available online, over the phone, or in person at the Asheville Community Theatre Box Office, 254-1320 or visit ashevilletheatre.org.

Early Voting Begins

Vote Early at Any Location.

Vote ButtonNo Photo ID Needed Until 2016.

The Buncombe County Election website specifies that:

“The one-stop ‘in-person’ absentee voting process permits voting at any of the designated early voting locations prior to election day.”

“Beginning in 2016, North Carolina will require voters to show a photo identification (photo ID) when they present to vote in person. Until 2016, most voters will not be required to show any form of identification when they vote.”

Election Services Early Voting Site and Hours:

William H. Stanley Building — 35 Woodfin Street in Asheville…Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 31, 9 am–5 pm (except Sunday) and Saturday, November 1, 7 am–1 pm

Remote Early Voting Sites:

The hours for early voting are Thursday, October 23 – Saturday, October 25, 8 am–6 pm, Monday, October 27–Friday, October 31, 8 am– 7 pm.) and Saturday, November 1, 7 am–1 pm, and Saturday, November 1, 7 am–1 pm. Locations for early voting are:

Fairview Branch Library, 1 Taylor Road

Asheville Mall (McAlister’s Entrance), 3 South Tunnel Road

North Asheville Branch Library, 1030 Merrimon Avenue

Woodfin Community Center, 11 Community Street

Weaverville Town Hall, 30 S. Main Street

Jupiter Volunteer Fire Department, 331 Jupiter Road

South Buncombe Branch Library, 260 Overlook Road

Skyland Fire Department, 9 Miller Road South

Pole Creek Baptist Church, 96 Snow Hill Church Road

West Asheville Branch Library, 942 Haywood Road

Heaven’s Cloud Retreat (Old Enka Union Hall), 130 Sardis Road

Leicester Branch Library, 1561 Alexander Road

Bee Tree Fire Department Substation, 510 Bee Tree Road

Black Mountain Branch Library, 105 N. Dougherty Street

QUESTIONS?

Call the 24-Hour Voter Hotline at 250-4200 or visit buncombecounty.org./vote

Wild Edibles

Recently, I was up on a high elevation hike through forests filled with moss, boulders and stunted mountain laurel, evergreens and deciduous hardwoods, looking for fall mushrooms and enjoying the cool, crisp, clear air of the mountains we live in. I found plenty of mushrooms — not the ones I was hoping to find, but nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed their beauty and diversity. I did see a few small groups of Destroying Angels, the deadliest mushrooms in the world that are snow white and stunning to behold but certainly not anything to eat!

Ghost Flowers
Ghost Flowers

As I was hiking, I came across a large stand of boulders covered in moss and lichen and saw something white nestled at the base of the rocks. I smiled with glee, as right beside the moss and boulder was the most beautiful stand of small, ethereal Ghost Flowers I had ever seen. For decades these flowers have enchanted me, for they are so unique. The most frequent common name for this plant is Indian Pipe or corpse plant, but I prefer Ghost Flower, given its unique ghostly white presence.

In the marvelous world of plants, there are some flowers that stand out and claim such a unique spot in the botanical world since nothing else resembles them. Ghost Flowers or Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) certainly fit the bill! These flowers are otherworldly; the plants have absolutely no chlorophyll and are pure white, almost translucent, growing from 3–7 inches in height, and they do indeed look like a ghost flower. This particular group was stunning, looking like a herd of miniature seahorse creatures. As they age, they develop some black or reddish hues and on rare occasion they can be white with deep reddish pink hues.

Indian Pipe is a 4–8 inch tall plant with a single pipe-shaped flower on each stalk. Indian Pipe received one of its common names because the Native Americans utilized the sap from this plant for medicinal purposes, especially in the treatment of eye infections, and the flowers do look like inverted pipes. The flowers possess no chlorophyll, the green pigment that is crucial to photosynthesis. Without this critical ingredient, Indian Pipes cannot produce energy on their own, but these unique plants have a mutually beneficial relationship with host trees and fungi that provide them with the nutrients they need to exist and reproduce. Since the plants do not need light, they are able to grow in the deepest and darkest parts of the forest. Indian Pipe is in the same family as blueberries and rhododendron, but over the millennia, these unique plants figured out a way to get the food they needed from the fungi and trees without having to produce it themselves. Nature has an astonishing array of living examples of mutual cooperation and interdependence that we humans would do well to pay attention to; we have so much to learn.

I have never seen any evidence of this plant being eaten by any wild creature in all my years of hiking. There are many references stating that the plant can be cooked and apparently tastes like asparagus, but I tried one tiny bite and found it bitter, and given the potent chemicals within this plant, which include toxic glycosides, I would not recommend eating it at all. However, it has a fascinating medicinal history. It has been used as an eyewash when mixed with rosewater for infections, has also been used as a tincture to treat sores and infections and as a sedative and antispasmodic medication.

One of the more interesting medicinal uses for this unique flower is in the realm of pain management. Herbalists have used ghost flower tinctures successfully to treat severe and chronic pain as a substitute for morphine and opiate drugs. What is interesting is that the chemical reaction in the body does not actually relieve pain; from the references I have read, you will still feel pain but it no longer bothers you, so in effect, it acts like opium without the mind-altering effects and addictive dangers associated with all narcotics. In essence, on a medicinal level, this plant could provide a highly beneficial alternative in the treatment of chronic pain, providing relief from pain by generating a sense of dissociation from the pain without the harmful side effects of standard pharmaceuticals.

However, botanical medicine is a complex realm, and it is best to leave these matters to highly trained herbal practitioners who are trained and skilled in creating appropriate tinctures and dosages.

Ghost flowers are a wonder of nature to behold, and for me they are always a magical rite of passage whenever I see them. Although there are thousands and thousands of examples of parasitic and symbiotic relationships in the natural world, these unique flowers are a constant source of amazement to me, and they are stunningly beautiful to see growing wild in our forests.

In the plant world, green is the power that fuels the universe, so to see these pale white ghost flowers thriving in deep shade is always a revelation and a sign of the incredible complexity and diversity of nature.

Halloween Lore

Halloween Lore

Halloween Lore

Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.

Halloween is on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. It was originally a pagan holiday, honoring the dead. Halloween was referred to as All Hallows Eve and dates back to over 2,000 years ago.

Jack o’ lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.

chocolate candyHalloween candy sales average about $2 billion dollars annually in the United States.

Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.

Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.

Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.

bobbing for applesBobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival honoring Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.

The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing
masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.

Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday;
Christmas is the first.

Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green. Great for unique monster carvings!

maskBlack cats were once believed to be witch’s familiars who protected their powers.

John Carpenter’s movie, ‘Halloween,” was made in only 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget. The movie was shot in the Spring and used fake autumn leaves.

The mask used by Michael Meyers in the movie “Halloween” was actually William Shatner’s face mask painted white.

The character Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis was named after John Carpenter’s first girlfriend.

license plateWhile the setting for the movie “Halloween” is in Illinois, the license plates on the vehicles have California plates.

The carving of Jack-o-lanterns from gourds dates back at least 2,000 years!

THE VOICE OF OUR COMMUNITY