Wild Fungi Forage Classes Near The Coves

community gardens

You may be surprised to learn that North Carolina is home to more than three thousand varieties of mushroom.  About two hundred of those are edible, and you can find a major concentration of those growing wild in the Asheville and Blue Ridge foothills area.  Taking forays into the woods to gather them is a popular pastime for the residents of mountain towns in North Carolina

In addition, the cultivation of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms began decades ago in the region.  As interest in locally-grown products increased, many landowners, farmers and gardeners took advantage of our abundance of forested land to gain expertise in the growing of some of the more popular mushroom varieties.  Now, you can easily find them at Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market and venues in Conover, Collettsville, Boone, Spruce Pine, Vilas, Banner Elk and other nearby towns.

Any list of things to do in Lenoir NC for the mushroom aficionado would have to include wild fungi foraging through the woods of the Patterson School campus with local expert Ken Crouse.  Bring your basket and take home a collection of rare delicacies.  Afterward, there’s a cooking demonstration and tasting.  The Patterson School Foundation’s mission is to provide educational opportunities with a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, sustainable agriculture, historical preservation and the community.

Growing gourmet mushrooms such as shiitake and oyster on freshly-cut logs is not a difficult process, but it’s necessary to pay attention to certain details in order to be successful.  Whether you’re doing it entirely on your own or working with one of the area’s community gardens such as the one we enjoy so much at The Coves Mountain River Club, you can always get assistance from the NC Cooperative Extension at the Caldwell County Center in Lenoir and the Wautauga County Center in Boone.  It’s just another one of the many opportunities for lifelong learning you’ll discover here in the foothills. 

Many people who live in mountain towns in North Carolina and have a common interest in learning about, collecting, growing and eating the local fungi join the Asheville Mushroom Club.  They meet on the last Thursday of the month, from March through November.  The group ranges from beginners to professional mycologists and includes photographers, artists and nature enthusiasts.  There are guest speakers and special events to enjoy, and the more experienced members are happy to share their knowledge with anyone who wants to learn.  One – Charlotte Caplan – is the author of Cooking with the Asheville Mushroom Club,

We find no shortage of things to do in Lenoir NC. People move here for the clean mountain air, the year round mild weather, the outdoor activities, the natural beauty, the local history and culture…the list goes on and on.  It’s safe to say that most aren’t aware at first that this is the wild mushroom capital of the world.  But it’s not long before they meet someone who’s found great satisfaction in working with others in community gardens or carefully tending a private patch of edible or medicinal mushrooms.  It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm, and so you take yet another step in your journey of lifelong learning.

At The Coves Mountain River Club, our Isabel’s Garden is nestled in a sunny spot adjacent to the Johns River, with dividers that create an English-style ambience.  Residents have the option of maintaining their own garden plots or asking for help from our garden committee.  Tomatoes, peppers, radishes, greens and watermelon do well in the nutrient-rich soil, along with herbs such as rosemary, basil, oregano, sage and mint.  You’ll also see daffodils, tulips, lilies, sunflowers and assorted mountain wildflowers. 

Please plan to stop by and take a tour of The Coves Mountain River Club when you’re in the area.  We’d love to show you around.

There’s so much to see and do here that it’s easy to understand why it’s an ideal place to retire and enjoy your life to the fullest.

Call 828.754.0700 now!

Tags: Guest Lecture Series | Lenoir

2018 Fall Lifelong Learning Courses in WNC

lifelong learning courses in Western North Carolina

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) in the foothills offers residents of mountain towns in North Carolina a schedule of lifelong learning courses (both degree and non-credit) that are tailor-made for pursuit of their individual interests and hobbies. College isn’t just for young adults. Going back to school is popular in our golden years as we desire a lot more from life now that they’re free from the dual pressures of work and family obligations and have more free time to do what we want.

As many more members of the “baby boomer” generation reach retirement age, the demand for “lifelong learning” continues to grow.  A primary benefit, of course, is the opportunity to increase our knowledge of subjects we’re already familiar with and others we would like to find out more about.  We can brush up on our skills, learn some new techniques and have some fun as we enter this rewarding and exciting stage of our life. 

But continuing education is also vital to our mental and physical health, because when we attend a class we’re making important social connections with others who share our experiences and interests.  Students in adult education are not trying to satisfy a degree requirement and are there by choice and enthusiastic.  Many programs have no books or tests, and the atmosphere is informal.  And we can miss a class or even drop a course if we choose.

The mission of CCC&TI is to provide accessible, quality instruction; support economic development through comprehensive resources to business, industry, and agencies and offer diverse services and opportunities which improve the quality of life.

Full academic programs at the school for the coming year include accounting, automotive systems technology, aviation management and career technology, business administration, biomedical equipment technology and cosmetology. Students also study biotechnology, cardiovascular sonography, computer information technology, landscape gardening, medical sonography, networking technology, associate degree nursing, paralegal technology, radiography, and web technologies. 

And personal enrichment classes teach subjects as diverse as beekeeping, craft brewing, motorcycle safety, sign language, computer skills, digital photography, writing and Spanish.

The school also offers special events such as the Fall 2018 installment of Caldwell Cuisine, a showcase for the talents of Culinary Arts students, and the 2018-2019 Showcase of Stars, featuring music, dance and drama.

CCC&TI is located in Hudson, one of the quaint mountain towns in North Carolina most popular to those who are drawn to the laid-back lifestyle found in the foothills.  And its diverse class offerings are testament to the fact that settling into retirement doesn’t mean we can’t still follow your passion for lifelong learning.

As you consider the advantages of various mountain homes for sale in NC, make time to come by and visit us in Lenoir. Our beautiful 3600-acre gated community is nestled between the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains, surrounded by tall hardwood forests.  It’s an ideal choice for those who enjoy outdoor recreation such as fishing or boating, with its proximity to the Catawba River, Rhodiss and Hickory Lakes and Wilson Creek – plus the many hiking and riding trails and camping spots.  

We’re a world away from the stresses of the city.  Instead, we have fresh air, year-round mild weather, clear skies, spectacular sunsets, great neighbors and a front row seat when the foliage changes color in the Fall which is coming soon.

Take a tour of The Coves Mountain River Club and see why so many people have chose to retire here and enjoy all of this area’s many benefits and opportunities. We offer mountain view homes, estate homes, river front homes, mountain cottages, tiny houses and new Design-Ready Log Homes. Ask us for more info.

Call 828.754.0700 now!


Tags: Guest Lecture Series | Lenoir

Woodworking Clubs and Classes in the NC Foothills

woodworking class North Carolina

It’s no wonder woodworking’s a popular pastime in this area. With over 20 miles of wood furniture plants and stores, Hickory is known as the “Furniture Capital of the World” and has been since the 1890’s. Among the fun things to do in Hickory NC is participating in woodworking clubs and events that attract both experienced craftsmen and beginners to get together and work on their projects.

Hickory’s is about a half hour’s drive from The Coves Mountain River Club, and we find a lot of our residents make the trip on a regular basis to pick up woodworking supplies and mingle with others who share their passion.

Many began wood carving early in life, perhaps picking up skills from a parent, other relative or mentor.  We find many happy to share their knowledge and offer suggestions for ways to do things that might not be apparent to those who are just getting started.  And they’re open to ideas from others, as well. They understand that, like any craft, woodworking is a lifelong learning process.

Some choose to take up woodworking full-time when they retire, having had little time to devote to hobbies while busy with work and raising a family.  And when they’re looking at North Carolina mountain homes for sale, these woodworkers have made sure there would be sufficient space for the hand tools and equipment they will need.

When you spend some time with anyone who does this for fun or for a living, and you’re likely to hear about the intoxicating smell of newly-cut wood, the deep satisfaction that comes with making something beautiful, and maybe the reward of using your talents to help others.  One of the benefits of joining a woodworking club is the chance to be a part of group volunteer efforts to support the needy and other worthy causes.  That can involve making wooden toys, shelves, or even furniture.  When people with various skill levels are available, there’s always someone who can solve whatever problem might arise.

The beginning woodworker should learn how to design and plan, evaluate the mechanical characteristics and artistic appeal of various woods, and understand completely the functions and necessary safety procedures for any tool used in the process.  Appalachian State University in Boone, about 30 miles northwest of The Coves Mountain River Club, teaches more advanced woodworking classes to develop your abilities.

Motives for woodworking vary according to the goals of those pursuing the craft.  Some may specialize in larger, more ornate projects, while others devote their time to creating accent pieces, art or whatever else strikes their fancy.  And still others may be focused upon the financial aspect – making things to be sold.

Woodcraft, if marketed correctly, can be a good source of income.  There are many ways to approach it, but of course it’s important that you make things people want to buy.  Items that have proved to be popular sellers include custom signs, quality wooden toys, birdhouses and unique picture frames. On a large scale, some make dining tables or carve statues out of timber.

If you’re thinking about taking up woodworking, here’s some help tips. Once you have enough inventory to start selling, look for things to do in Hickory NC and surrounding towns that bring out potential customers, such as craft shows, flea markets, folk and music festivals and similar events.   You’ll find plenty of those going on in the foothills.  A good rule of thumb for pricing is to charge four times the cost of your materials.

The internet’s another good place to market your work, whether it’s on your own web site or one or more of the popular selling sites such as eBay and Etsy.  You can see what others have done and possibly get some good ideas.  And check your local library for a book on how to start a craft business.

Lifelong learning keeps us vital, and woodworker’s know it stimulates both the mind and the body.  As a hobby, there’s no stress because you can work when you feel like it and stop whenever you want to.  And in the end, you have something you’ve made with your own hands that you can be proud of. Perhaps the next treasured family heirloom.

At The Coves Mountain River Club, many of our North Carolina mountain homes for sale and those under construction showcase woodworking craftsmanship. Situated in a forest, we have all types of wood and timber to learn about and try your hand at.

We enjoy year-round mild weather, gorgeous scenery and a wealth of opportunity for indoor and outdoor activities.  There’s always something to do! No matter what your woodworking skill level may be, living here provides you with easy access to the people and resources you need to make the most of your woodworking hobby.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Guest Lecture Series | Hickory

2016 Summer Lenoir NC Events at The Coves

Artist in Residence Charlie Frye


Wine & Design Art Class – June 17, 2016

Attendees had a wonderful night with local artist Charlie Frye of Frye Art Studios in Lenoir, one of the best mountain towns in the Carolinas. There were a total of 11 ladies who attended the event. Frye loves to teach and set up his easel in the kitchen, while the students gathered around the bar. He provided everyone with a wood board about 12×12 inches in size. This became everyone’s painting canvas. Frye started the evening by taking everyone out onto the back veranda to take in the views from our Carolina mountain community.

The class was about painting a mountain scene, so what better inspiration than the views off the veranda from the Pisgah Mountain Lodge. Classes by Frye teach you to paint in steps. Frye would paint one section of the piece and the students were instructed to follow suit. He wouldn’t give out paint until he was finished demonstrating a particular step, then he provided the colors the students needed. Once everyone was was finished, attendees oohed and ahhed over each other’s painting. Frye is so much fun, and keeps folks laughing as he teaches. If we’re lucky, Frye might return in August. You can find Fyre at most Lenoir NC events.


Rib Cook-Off – June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, we had our annual Rib Cook-Off. This is one of residents most favorite events of the year. We have many Northern home owners, and they enjoy competing against a Southern who thinks he is the rib master. People started to rush in right before 1:00pm bringing their ‘right of the grill’ ribs. We had 13 entries along with lots of delicious sides and desserts.

The day stated with judging. Rib samples are collected from each plate for the judges to taste. The judges taste, talk, and decide which rib will be the winner.  The Director of Communications, Jacqueline Delk, announces the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

This year, Paul Brandenburg, property owner, won 1st place, Mona Houston, Equestrian Director, won 2nd, and Joe Poli, Real Estate Consultant for The Coves, won 3rd place. The rest of the day consisted of everyone eating, laughing, and listening to music from our guest musician, Sarah Tucker, local talent frequently seen at Lenoir NC events. It was a gorgeous Saturday, and most ended up out at the outdoor living room with a the fire pit to savor the evening sunset. We had around 50 people attend. It was a great event! The next cook-off competition is scheduled for August 20, 2016 at our Carolina mountain community.

Side Dish Cook-Off – August 20, 2016

Join us at the Pisgah Mountain Lodge for our annual Side Dish Cook-Off. Bring your most delicious dish from your collection of secret family recipes to battle the other dishes in this high stakes competition. No wagering allowed, but be sure to come with a hearty appetite to taste all the scrumptious side dishes.

The Side Dish Cook-Off will be held at our lodge from 1-4pm on Saturday, August 20th.


Adventures in Hiking in Western North Carolina –  August 2016

Resident of Lenoir since early 2000, Gardner travels the globe in search of the next hiking trail and has a special interest in Western North Carolina. He actively hikes with Smoky Scout’s Hiking Adventures. His guest lecture series presentations include:

  • The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim to Rim
  • The Grand Tetons – The Teton Crest Trail
  • Lookout Towers of Western North Carolina
  • Adventures in Hiking in Western North Carolina
  • Alaska – The Last Frontier
  • Waterfalls of the Carolinas
  • Hiking in the Appalachian Mountains

There’s always something going at The Coves. You’ll quickly find we are some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet in Western North Carolina (and we’re great cooks too!)

Call us directly at 828.754.0700 to schedule a tour.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84-page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide, which gives you more information about living in the foothills of North Carolina.

Tags: Artist In Residence | Events At The Coves | Guest Lecture Series | Lenoir

Tasty Culinary Events, Artist in Residence and Guest Lecture Series

Chef Corey Hooks

Back by popular demand, Chef Corey Hooks, Culinary Instructor at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) returned to our Pisgah Mountain Lodge to demonstrate tasty ways to serve up authentic Shrimp Gumbo. The smells of garlic, paprika and sausage floating through the lodge were as savory as his dish. Upcoming cooking classes include popular food truck specialties, everything chocolate and international flavors.

Cooking demonstrations by award winning local chefs are some of the many culinary events that take place year round at The Coves Mountain River Club. Our residents have an appetite for good food and are quite competitive in the kitchen. 

Five times a year, we come together to compete for the first place title of The Coves Cook-off challenge and to listen to serenades by local musicians like Sarah Tucker. The four cooking competitions at the lodge:

  • March – Best International Dish
  • June – North Carolina BBQ Rib Challenge
  • August – Best Side Dish
  • October – Best Chowder
  • December – Chili & Apple Pie Cook-off

If you’re comparing the best retirement places in North Carolina, we’re confident you’ll be pleased with our social clubs and lifelong learning opportunities. In addition to cooking events, The Coves is the host of a seasonal Artist in Residence and monthly Guest Lecture series.

Charlie Frye is The Coves first Artist in Residence and is commissioned to create and paint two quilt blocks on our Round Mountain Ranch barn that will be unveiled in May. These meaningful masterpieces will be included on the Quilt Block Trail of North Carolina, a collection of more than 200 painted quilt blocks throughout the state of North Carolina.

Paint splattered jeans, rolled at the cuff. Doc Martin boots. Layers of bright colored shirts. Coffee mug and paint brush in hand, famous local artist Charlie Frye is the talk of Lenoir. During the summer season, Frye visits the lodge for a relaxed lecture about art, what inspires him and to showcase a private art exhibit. The Artist in Residence changes seasonally.

Our Guest Lecture series at the lodge includes educational presentations by local hiking guides, avid gardeners, wellness trainers, musicians and our equestrian director, Mona Houston. Whether folks want to learn about trout fishing, fauna and flowers or how to whisper to a horse, there’s always something to learn from our guest speakers.

Did we mention our residents enjoy friendly competition? During the first week of the month, our residents meet at the lodge for Coves Game Night. Whether it’s a game of cards, Chess or Scrabble, our residents know how to have a good time. If you’ve wanted a sense of belonging, you will find it and more at The Coves Mountain River Club.

We know we offer one of the best retirement places in North Carolina.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which will provide more information about living in the foothills.

More about our guest speakers:

GUEST CULINARY CHEF – Executive Chef Corey Hooks

Born May 5, 1984 in Hickory, N.C.; Chef Hooks was raised in Lenoir where his passion for great food began. The youngest of a busy family, his father working two jobs and his mother running a small business, the family still made time to come together for a great home cooked meal. This relationship between food and family sparked his love for the culinary arts, and his passion of bringing people together with great food.

After graduating from West Caldwell High in 2002, he, his father, and brother had the opportunity of opening a small restaurant, Porky’s Bar-B-Q, in Taylorsville, N.C. Helping operate this restaurant for five years, he sought to further his knowledge of the industry by enrolling in Johnson and Wales University Charlotte in 2008. Landing a job at Youseff 242 restaurant in Hickory, while attending JWU helped strengthen and refine his skill set.

He apprenticed as Sous Chef under distinguished 5 Diamond Chef Cory Mattson at Youssef 242. Chef Mattson led the Fearrington House Inn, outside of Chapel Hill, N.C., for 10 years receiving the AAA 5 Diamond Award each year. Chef Hook’s drive led him to become Matton’s Sous Chef at Youssef 242 until May 2012.

In May 2012, Chef Hooks was hired as Executive Chef of Bistro 127 in Hickory N.C. to help bring creativity, refinement, passion, and his overall skillset to the kitchen. In September 2012, Bistro 127 was awarded Catawba Valley’s Best Chef.


Paint splattered jeans, rolled at the cuff. Doc Martin boots. Layers of bright colored shirts. Coffee mug and paint brush in hand. Conversations with passersby. Art lessons being taught to children ages 5 to 85.

This is what you’ll find on any given day at Frye Art Studio in downtown Lenoir, NC. The owner of the studio and artist at work ~ Charlie Frye ~ known by many as just “Frye”.

It wasn’t until the age of 25 that he first picked up a paintbrush. But don’t let the lack of years fool you. This self-taught, 35 year old artist is a native of western North Carolina and a full time creator of all things art. Aside from his painting, he carves block prints and creates unique sculptures. Recycling is a way of life for him, so he uses repurposed objects in his creations. His canvases include unusual items, such as old maps, projector screens and burlap sacks.

What he is most known for though, are his acrylic Americana paintings. These compositions depict life in rural Appalachia, including many of farmers and musicians with the Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop.

Charlie has participated in several group art shows throughout Western North Carolina and the Southeast. Frye is currently represented by Wickwire Gallery in Hendersonville, Taupe Gallery in North Wilkesboro, and 87 Ruffin Street Gallery in Linville.

Tags: Artist In Residence | Events At The Coves | Guest Lecture Series | Lenoir