We recently stopped by the WNC Farmers Market on Brevard Road in Asheville NC and got to see so many great foods. If you are looking for fresh produce from local farmers in the community, this is a great place to visit.
Lots of fresh vegetables at the WNC Farmers Market in west Asheville NC!
A big selection of ciders to choose from, just about every concoction of flavors you can imagine.
Honey is plenty over here at the WNC Farmers Market, featuring many local types to choose from. So feel free to get your sweet on!
Arts & Crafts are also available from many artists in the Asheville and WNC area. This is a great spot to find lots of local treasures that you will not find anywhere else.
Asheville and its neighboring mountain towns are not lacking in talent! From the potters, painters, and jewelry makers in the River Arts District to the broom makers and ceramic artists in Leicester, expressive artistic talent abounds.
Tucked away in West Asheville along the railroad tracks is a very unique art studio unlike any other in the town. It’s called the Open Hearts Art Center; a non-profit arts education program for adults with physical and mental health challenges. Serving approximately 60 adults annually, Open Hearts was incorporated in 2005 by three artistic woman (Sonia Pitts, Jessie Francis, and Debbie Harris) with a passion to serve western North Carolina’s underserved community. Weekly art teachers at Open Hearts include students from local colleges/universities and retired community volunteers.
Although North Carolina offers other day programs for adults with disabilities, Open Hearts is unique, due in no small part to its Boundless Arts program. Boundless Arts offers participants/artists the opportunity to explore local art galleries and studios (travel!), while simultaneously building community volunteer skills at festivals, recreational events, and unique arts exhibits. In short, Open Hearts allows its special artists the opportunity to operate physically and artistically in a non-restrictive, creative environment that embraces physical, emotional, and mental health challenges. The opportunity to express raw emotion and life frustration with the stroke of a brush produces powerful art work.
Asheville’s broader professional artistic community has enthusiastically embraced the Open Hearts Center, with frequent invitations to display work in local galleries, at fundraisers, on the walls of restaurants, and even in local homes. Perhaps you’ve read other media articles about Open Hearts, including a January 2016 Asheville Citizen-Times piece, or you’ve seen their artistic work on display. If not, then you’re missing a treat! Stop by the Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood Street) in downtown Asheville during the month of February, as Open Hearts is the “featured artist.”
If you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s pretty cool! I’d like to get involved with this unique arts effort and give back to my community,” then have no worries. Open Hearts has plenty of volunteer and donation opportunities.
If you’re also reading this blog and thinking, “I’d like to explore Asheville’s broader arts scene,” or “I’d like to volunteer, but the arts are not really my thing,” then we can hook you up with information. Click on the links below to identify galleries, studios, festivals, and other volunteer opportunities.
Plan now to hit the streets of Asheville and its vibrant arts scene, with special attention to the artists who have made “giving back” their life’s mission.
We recently spoke with Sarah Reagan, owner of Some Kind of Nature Thing and asked her a few questions:
How did your company come to exist? “I have always been creative. Making things, crafting things… About two years ago I started to pour a lot of energy into my artwork. Learning new techniques and finding new ways to express creative freedom. I am endlessly amazed at what I can do with my hands and what the creative process has taught me in every facet of my life. So I set out on this journey to allow me to be professionally creative. It began with my day job. I wwork as a counselor for young adults with mental illnesses. I developed a creative processing group called “Create” which teaches the fundamentals and skills of art techniques making art the therapeutic tool. This created a burning passion to make all of the things. I wanted share my artwork with other people. I wanted to start a business where my creations would shine brightly and over time I would create a brand for not only paintings but authentic handmade goods. And with that, some kind of nature thing was born.”
How are you connected to Asheville? “I have been coming to Asheville since I was a little girl. Sometimes I feel more at home in that city than my own. I have gathered inspiration from Asheville artists and makers. The vibrant colors and eclectic people and places are reflected in my own art. I have always been the biggest fan of the laughing mermaid soap shop, often driving 70 miles just to stock up and return home. I marvel at the regeneration station in the river arts district and always return home with new treasures and new ideas & Every shop downtown is like a small art gallery. Inspiration for days.”
What do you specialize in? “I specialize in watercolor paintings and handmade bath & body products all products ship globally- wholesale orders available.”
What types of products do you carry? Original artwork, digital prints, handmade bath soap, body bars (solid lotion), bath fizz & beard care products (beard oil, beard balm).”
She said… “Nature has always been at the heart of me and who I am. From the mountains to the sea when I am submersed in the natural world my spirit is Alive and at home. My passion is creating nature inspired work. I find myself choosing palates of earth tones and vibrant floral inspired colors. When blending essential oils for soaps, I am drawn to earthy aromas and woodsy notes. Since I began learning about soap making and essential oil uses I have grown even more to appreciate what the earth provides to us. We can find healing from the plants she grows. All of my soaps are handmade and carefully created with essential oils that complement each other as well as provide a delightful aroma. I use rich Shea butter for moisturizing and all natural ingredients to keep your skin happy & healthy. I am a self-taught artist/artisan & have grown and developed my brand on my own with the help of my boyfriend, Ryan Summey, who does web design, digital reproduction and printing. I do not outsource my products as everything is handmade in our home studio. From the first idea to the last brushstroke my paintings are my own original work. I specialize in watercolor, however, I work with all media including oil, acrylic and graphite. I also handmake bath and body products including body soap, facial soap, beard balm and lotion bars. I enjoy sewing, making jewelry and crafting of all kinds. Learning new art forms is my passion. I designed my own logo & created my own font for branding. I hand paint and craft my packaging including soap labels. Each label is individual.”
When you think about all of the communities being built up on all ends of Asheville and Buncombe County, there are a few that quickly come to mind. Of course you have Biltmore Village, which was a community built for the workers who were constructing the Biltmore Estate. They recently had a wonderful grocery store named Katuah Market open which sort of completes that area. Except for housing, which the Biltmore Property Group has several plans in the works to make that happen. Then you have Biltmore Park Town Square, which was started several years ago, and has some key attractions such as a movie theater, restaurants, offices and a YMCA; in addition to their community of homes and condos. The East and West sides of Asheville have nothing even similar to these, but Reynolds Village, on Reynolds Mountain, is laying the foundation for the North side of town.
We recently took a ride up to visit the Reynolds Village Shops and see what they had going on. It was kind of quiet, but this place is up and coming, and not too established yet. They survived the great economy depression of this era and made it through. The focus was most likely survival during those times. As it seems, they do not have an effective marketing team that is building relationships with the community and vendors yet, so the buzz is low and it is not yet exploding with growth. They do not have a website for the business community and theloftsasheville.com site listed on the Shops at Reynolds Village Facebook page is a dead link. The ReynoldsMountain.com website is dated and has a big dead space through the center of it at the moment. What we are saying is that they are piecing things together and still have a lot of work to do. So from online perception, it may still seem “under construction” if you may. But this is not the case. There are plenty of stores open with merchandise that you want and need. As far as the “big picture”… it is coming soon, and we are placing our bets on this being a hot-spot on the north side in the near future. As pictured above, they do have a beautiful water fountain that we enjoyed sitting by and listening to. A nice mid-day break.
Of course the YMCA is like the staple in these area communities. A great organization which brings a wide variety of folks around, giving exposure and awareness to the great shops in Reynolds Village. Here are some of the shops that you should definitely check out if you are up in that neck of the woods:
A hair salon for both humans, and one for our furry friends. Sorry hamsters and rabbits, this place is for the dogs; and cats. And although Shampoodle’s has the word “Poodle” in it, I believe they accept dogs of all races. Minerva’s Beauty Salon for humans looks like a great spot, and the cuts they show on their Facebook page are beautiful. I would definitely try this place out for my own hair if I was not already committed or if I needed a change.
In addition to the YMCA, there are several other shops that focus on health and fitness, including 9 Round Fitness and Asheville Pilates.
If you have kids, they have a couple of great stores that you must see! First is the Spellbound Children’s Bookshop which has been a wonderful store in the Asheville area for years. You can also purchase their books online. Next is a place called AMPed Up Kids Consignment & Boutique, which features so many quality items for the kiddos. Attention Parents: GET HERE! We had some social conversation with them recently on Twitter and it was good. We definitely need to stop in there soon.
And if art is your forte, the Shops at Reynolds Village features the Andrew Charles Gallery, which is a hidden gem showcasing beautiful local art, and rare collections from times past. Their artifacts are from places such as Egypt, West Africa, New Guinea, Colima West Mexico; with the oldest item being 5500 years old. I have seen nothing like this place in Asheville. Amazing! Studio B is a a framing shop right across the street and features contemporary art from local artists as well. Both of these places are worth the drive alone to see the art.
And there are two shops in here that you ladies will especially love. Kaylynne’s Briar Patch Florist has so many great selections and from what I hear, their creativity is like none other. And… The Knitting Diva, and she is all about yarn! This place actually started as a weekly meeting at the Well-Bred Bakery and grew into this. Talk about Asheville grown!
Livi’s Pantry is a great little grocery store featuring high quality foods, wines and more. We stopped by there recently and had a small lunch, some coffee and a business meeting. The owner was wonderful to us! They have a cute mini wine bar in the back where you can sit and sip some of their great selections. With Vino Vino Wine Market recently closing, this is the perfect place to stop and grab a bottle or two. They also have a deli in the back, and they are serving Boar’s Head Meats; so it must be good!
And Moe’s Original Barbecue is opening shop right outside the gates of Reynold’s Mountain and The Shops at Reynolds Village, and that place is BBQ and Beer Heaven! We definitely know we will be spending a lot more time up this way. You should too!