Herbs and more
May 4, 2012, 9:29 PM
Filed under: Herbs, Rain Barrels, Transition Towns, Uncategorized

Michael and I drove over the mountain today to attend the annual Asheville Herb Festival at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market. I was delighted with the weather, the turnout, and the variety of plants, products and vendors, so I thought I’d share a few things I learned today with you.

The most exciting thing I learned is that on Wednesday, May 9th there is a ‘special event’ being organized by Transition Asheville & The Food Security Cluster of the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council. A panel of the city and county’s emergency response team and community leaders will discuss ‘FOOD SECURITY in times of Crisis, Transition, and Emergency’. It is billed as a community forum on resilience and emergency preparedness. Those topics are the very essence of this blog. I want to be part of that conversation, and then I want that same conversation to take place right here in the TriCities too! But I cannot attend that day, so here’s a link with all the info, in case you’d like to go. If you do, please contact me when it’s over and let me know what you’ve learned, and how we might initiate that same kind of preparedness on THIS side of the mountain.

Another thing I learned: A lack of water to meet daily needs is a reality today for one in three people around the world. Globally, the problem is getting worse as cities and populations grow, and the needs for water increase in agriculture, industry and households. We are, after all, over 7 BILLION strong and growing! Add to that a warming planet, and we have the makings of water wars in the future. So what can I do about it? Harvest rainwater, of course! And these barrels won’t limit you to a measly 50 gallons either! This company not only sells and installs rain barrels but also the hardware for do it yourselfers- from diverters to telescoping downspouts. I especially liked how these barrels are placed on sturdy platforms, making it easier to use gravity to water your garden with.

Of course rain barrels aren’t exactly new…many of our great grandparents collected rainwater in large, underground cisterns. They have long been used in areas where water is scarce, either because it is rare or because it has been depleted due to heavy use. Early on, the water was used for many purposes including cooking, irrigation, and washing. The water could then be accessed with a simple pump or downhill gravity. But harvesting rainwater on any scale, combined with simple conservation efforts like installing low flow shower heads, faucets and toilets, drip irrigation systems and mulching your garden can dramatically lower your water use. If you’re really serious about conserving water though, using a dry composting toilet makes the most sense. Maybe next year the Herb Festival will be selling composted humanure, along with their bags of  compost and worm castings.

Of course, there were flowers, vegetables, native plants and trees, hand made soaps, herbal drinks and baked goods (no, I didn’t see any brownies :D),  salves, tinctures, pots and, oh yeah- HERBS! Every kind imaginable, including…

All I bought was a bar of herbal/goat’s milk soap and a hardy variety of rosemary plant to replace the one we lost this winter. If you don’t want to, or can’t, grow a full garden, consider growing a simple pot of basil or your favorite herb on the windowsill. You’ll save money over the overpriced, over-packaged herbs found at the grocery store, and yours will be so much fresher! By the way, herbs can be easily dried by placing them in a paper bag, stem and all, allowing you to cook with them year round. Herbs are considered the ‘gateway drugs’ to big gardens though, so be very careful!


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