The Area

AS IF Center residents bouldering along the Toe River at Carolina Hemlocks

General location:
Nestled between sections of Pisgah National Forest, AS IF Center is central to many natural areas. The closest towns are Spruce Pine and Burnsville, even though our official address is Bakersville. We are about a 20 minute drive from Penland School of Crafts and an hour from Asheville.

Local food:
There is an Ingles grocery store 30 minutes away in Burnsville, and another Ingles the same distance in Spruce Pine. During most months of the year, there are several farmers markets that sell local organic produce, meat, dairy, and other items. From April through November we use a local CSA called Goldfinch Gardens and can pick up veggies for you if you order ahead (orders placed on Tuesdays, delivery on Fridays). If you have special dietary preferences, you can get almost anything you need in Asheville, an hour away – inquire for details if you need something special. There are several decent restaurants and coffee shops in the area such as  Fox & the Fig, and DT’s Blue Ridge Java in Spruce Pine; and Snap Dragon  and Appalachian Java in Burnsville. The Coffee House at Penland School of Crafts is delightful, as well. If you are a resident artist or scientist during a time when Penland is in session, we will treat you to lunch at The Pines at Penland – you’ll need to give us a few days’ notice so we can reserve a spot for you.

Locally collected wild ramps are a spring delicacy.

Locally available art:
Penland School art supply store is a gorgeous 20 minute drive from AS IF Center (go, even if you don’t need to). You can find fiber supplies at Yummi Yarns in Burnsville, and just down the road from AS IF you can get glass making supplies at Spruce Pine Batch. There are options nearby for sharing resources (and even studio space) with artists who work in glass, ceramics, metal, wood, textiles, printmaking, photography, and other media – with 400 artists in our area, including Burnt Mountain Pottery right next door – just ask ahead of time and we’ll hook you up.

An hour away, Asheville offers great selection and reasonable prices at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, natural dyes, woodworking supplies, and all kinds of neat stuff at Earth Guild, beads and supplies at Chevron Trading Company, textile supplies at House of Fabrics, clay supplies at Highwater Clays, and lots of other treasures. Sassy Jack’s Stitchery in Weaverville has a wide selection of hand-dyed and specialty embroidery floss.

Locally available science:
Tal Galton at Snakeroot Ecotours is a knowledgeable guide who can teach you about the area’s rich natural history. If you arrange in advance and schedule for just the right week, he may even be able to give you a tour of rare orchids or take you to see Blue Ghost fireflies. Dark skies in our area provide good conditions for stargazing, including at the nearby Bare Dark-Sky Observatory. The Museum of North Carolina Minerals on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Spruce Pine is a nice little science museum with a few field guides and supplies in their store. The Compleat Naturalist is in Asheville has a pretty good variety of tools for entomology, botany, geology, and general study of natural history.  If you need a fume hood, autoclave, freezer space, incubator, or other science lab facilities, let us know and we can help you make arrangements with a nearby lab. Carolina Biological Supply is just three hours away. If you need to order something for your work and you think it might be something we’d be interested in at AS IF Center, let us know – we might order it to add to our supply list.

The headquarters for the nation’s climate data are in Asheville at the NCEI. The Asheville Collider helps connect NOAA/NCEI climate scientists with nonprofits, business, and the general public, and hosts interesting science talks. The NC Arboretum and Asheville Botanical Garden teach about our remarkable Southern Appalachian flora. Scientists at the US Forest Service Southern Research Station work on entomology, fisheries, forestry, invasive species, effects of climate change, and other topics. If you’d like us to help you make a connection with some of these folks, just let us know.

Local towns:
Spruce Pine and Burnsville are small to medium sized towns  each with a large grocery store (Ingles), a few restaurants, taverns, coffee shops, galleries, hardware stores, banks, thrift and antique stores, several libraries, medical services including a small hospital,  etc. and can provide most basic services.  The Penland Post Office is worth a trip and they offer unusual stamps for sale.

Historic Penland Post Office