Asheville Spring Herb Festival Returns May 5-7

The WNC Farmers Market will host Asheville’s 28th Annual Spring Herb Festival May 5- 7, bringing together more than 60 growers and sellers of herbs and herbal products and more than 35,000 buyers from around the area and across the South.

The festival—the largest in the U.S. and Canada—is free and open to the public; hours are Friday and Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Herb plants & products

Every family includes a wise elder who understands that natural products made from herbs, and often the herbs themselves, are essential to cooking and good health. Whether it’s making a healing salve from pine tree resin to treat a cut or brewing Speedwell tea for a cold or flu, herbs and other plants have been used for good health for millennia.

Many plants, both wild and cultivated—including a number found in your everyday garden or suburban yard—have both medicinal and culinary uses. Native Americans have long used the roots of several varieties of irises as medicine, just as ancient Egyptians used the bark of the willow tree (containing salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin) to treat aches and pains. Some varieties of common mustard (Brassica spp.) frequently grow in open fields and can be harvested for use in cooking, and mullein, which often covers the slopes along I-26, can be used to brew a healing tea for respiratory congestion, or turned into an oil to treat earaches.

Garden vegetables

Along with hundreds of varieties of delicious, flavorful herbs, many growers at the Herb Festival offer heirloom vegetables for your garden. Visitors often stock up on tomatoes, eggplants, and other favorites, as well as non-GMO seeds and starter plants, along with the extracts and essential oils that are so valuable to maintaining health.

Free workshops & classes

This year the Herb Festival will feature a number of workshops and programs, all running less than an hour, presented by experts in herbology and herb lore. [See below for full schedule] Subjects will include “Growing Chinese Herbs,” “Making Herbal Vinegars,” “Using Edible and Medicinal Herbs in Landscaping,” and “Using Herbs to Combat Allergies.” There will even be a Sunday presentation on “Starting an Herb Business” by a representative of the NC Herb Association. As always at the Festival, all events including workshops and presentations are free and open to the public.

The 28th Annual Herb Festival will take place at the WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road at I-40. Free admission, free parking, free shuttle, free workshops. Hours: Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 7: 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. For more information, or 828-301-8968.

Workshop Schedule:

Friday, May 5

10 a.m. – Edible and Medicinal Landscaping – Jennifer Flynn, Grass to Greens and NC Natural Products Assoc./Blue Ridge Naturally

Ideas and descriptions of using herbal plants in the home landscape.

1 p.m. – How to grow Chinese herbs for health and longevity – Joe Hollis, Mountain Gardens

3 p.m. – Making Herbal Vinegars – Jeannie Dunn, Red Moon Herbs and NCNPA

Saturday, May 6

10 a.m. – Organic Herb Farm’s Post-Harvest Handling – Charles and Pam Leonard, Gentle Harmony Farm

1 p.m. – Weeds to Remedies: Herbs for Allergies – Dr. Dave Hamilton, Naturopathic Physician, Of The Earth Wellness

3 p.m. – Growing Ginseng, Goldenseal, and other woodland medicinals – Robert Eidus, Eagle Feather Organic Farm

Sunday, May 7

10 a.m. – Starting an Herb Business – Camille Edwards, NC Herb Association & BEE SOW HAPPY Farm

1 p.m. – Wild Foods and Nutrition – Alexander Meander, Ardea Homestead Sanctuary

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.