Abandoned farmhouse western North Carolina
Julia Franks

Eight years ago, Julia Franks and her husband bought a farm in western North Carolina. At the time, the 1800s farmhouse on the land was still standing and when they walked in the doors, they were greeted by dozens of odd artifacts, including animal bones, locks of hair, insect hives, and even a jar with a fingernail in it. Franks is a high school literature teacher and lover of writing, so it was hard for her to not let her imagination run wild.

Travis Mulhauser

Note: this program is a rebroadcast.

For a number of years, there was one particular image that continued to haunt Travis Mulhauser: a young girl in a hooded sweatshirt who comes across an abandoned baby. He eventually decided to let his imagination play out her story, and it resulted in his debut novel “Sweetgirl” (Harper Collins/2016). The book follows 16-year-old Percy James, whose search for her mother in the dead of winter takes her on an unexpected journey.

Photographer Nadia Sablin spent seven summers documenting the lives of her aunts Alevtina and Ludmila in a small village in northwest Russia. These photographs are some of those shown in her new book 'Aunties: The Seven Summers of Alevtina and Ludmila.'
Nadia Sablin

Photographer Nadia Sablin grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and each summer her family escaped the hustle and bustle of the city to spend time with their extended family in a small, rural village. They left Russia for good in 1992 and Sablin didn’t know whether she would ever get a chance to go back.

She went back for the first time more than 15 years later, and although everything in Russia had changed, one little piece of the world remained exactly the same: the small family home in Alekhovshchina.

Photo: NC Legislative building
Jorge Valencia

In a 34-12 vote, the North Carolina Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would expand economic incentives and redistribute local sales taxes to help more rural communities.

Republican leaders say the idea behind the sales tax proposal is to funnel more money into rural areas.

Photo: Woman at a cash register
MIKI Yoshito via Flickr

Powerful members of the North Carolina Senate say they want to revamp how the state distributes sales taxes revenue to better favor economically struggling rural areas.

Local sales tax revenue would be distributed to counties across the state based on their population. Currently, 75 percent of local sales taxes stay in the county where they’re collected, and the remaining 25 percent is distributed statewide based on population.

Flickr user Josh Mazgelis

A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is proposing a measure to get more fruits and vegetables to urban and rural areas devoid of grocery stores or healthful food options.

The plan, filed in separate bills in the House and Senate on Tuesday, would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners in areas known as food deserts. There are more than 340 food deserts across 80 counties in the state, advocacy groups say.

brick building Laurinburg, Scotland County, N.C.
Lance McCord / Flickr/Creative Commons

The North Carolina Legislature is back in town and ready to get to work for the year.  During this "long session" lawmakers will likely take up a number of important topics including Medicaid and teacher pay.  But what do you do if you represent a county that is oftentimes overlooked?

Representative Ken Goodman does just that.  Goodman represents Scotland County which is in one of the poorest parts of the state.

America's heartland is graying. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 — and that number has been steadily ticking upward for more than 30 years.

Overall, fewer young people are choosing a life on the land. But in some places around the country, like Maine, that trend is reversing. Small agriculture may be getting big again — and there's new crop of farmers to thank for it.

Fulfilling Work, Noble Work

Sharon Smith is taking two months to walk North Carolina's Mountain to the Sea Trail, which is more than 1,000 miles long and crosses the entire state.

Smith served as an Air Force combat medic during the Gulf War - and she is helping to prep the trail for a larger contingent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who will cross the state next year as a part of the Warrior Hike: Walk off the War program. 

Roadside meeting with Durham County farmer. North Carolina. He gives road directions by drawing the dirt with a stick. July 1939
Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress Call Number LC-USF34-020259

During the Great Depression, the federal government sent photographers around the country to meet Americans and document their lives. Those photographers took some 170,000 photographs throughout the latter half of the 1930s and into the 194os. The images they captured are among the most iconic of the era.

There's a new way to browse the images by state and even by county. The site is called Photogrammer and it was created by a team at Yale University.

Former congresswoman Eva Clayton chats with other speakers during the North Carolina Campuses Against Hunger conference at Elon.

 Note: Today's program is a rebroadcast of a program originally aired on March 25, 2013.

Maureen Sill / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at NC State University and the U.S. Geological Survey predict that urban areas in the south will double in size by 2060. If the rate and style of urban sprawl continues, farm and forest land will give way to a "megalopolis" that stretches from Raleigh to Atlanta.

USGS Research Ecologist Adam Terando says the pattern of decentralized development (meaning houses with yards and on cul-de-sacs as well as roadside business centers) will mean cutting further into wildlife habitats.

Mike Oniffrey

Randy Lewis almost lost the family dairy farm in 2009. The price of milk had bottomed out, and costs for feed, fertilizer and fuel had gone sky-high.

"It was either find some other way to make money or sell the cows and quit," he says.

But Randy had an idea that might just save the farm. He's bottling milk right on-site. Of the 150 dairy farmers in the state, only five bottle their own milk. And Randy's figured out how to do it without shelling out a lot of money.

Watch the story here:

[Video] Inside Fullsteam's First Frost Beer

Jun 16, 2014
David Huppert / UNC-TV

Michelle Bowers

Home is where the heart is and for many abandoned homes and barns around Franklin County, the echoes of these past lives is what prompted Michelle Bowers to start a photo collection which documents the abandoned homes of North Carolina.

“I’ve always hated history in school but this seems like a way to get back into history,” Bowers said.

Ryan and Rebecca Means with daughter Skyla
Robin Adams Photography / Project Remote

It takes one and a half days to hike there.  It's 5.5 miles from the nearest road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ladies and gentlemen, the remotest place in North Carolina:

Ryan and Rebecca Means are the couple who identified this place. Their Project Remote is one of the coolest things we've come across recently.

Longleaf Pine stand, Forest, Trees,
USFWS/Jack Culpepper

Imagine that you've lived in North Carolina, near the South Carolina line, for generations. Maybe your grandfather worked the land, your father too, and now you. And one day, a state official comes to your door tell you that you actually live in South Carolina. You'll need to change your driver's license. Rather than Governor Pat McCrory, you will now be paying attention to what Governor Nikki Haley is proposing. You've become a Sandlapper, not a Tar Heel.

That's exactly what is happening now.

Wikimedia Commons


A federal government report on Internet access ranked North Carolina last in the country for the rate of Internet subscription.  

Only 17 percent of North Carolina households have fixed Internet connections at a speed the FCC deems the "minimum required to engage in modern life."  Rural residents say that they have difficulty getting coverage while providers claim rural North Carolina has adequate service.

A Duke doctor examines an elderly patient.
Duke Medecine

A health care community center opens today in Hoke County, a first for residents in that rural area. The center will offer a range of services from mental health and substance abuse counseling to family medicine and preventive care. The facility is being operated by the Robeson Health Care Corporation. The company's Marlo Fulmore says the center will cater primarily to low-income residents.

When Eva Clayton was sworn into the U.S. Congress in 1992, she became the first Congresswoman from the state of North Carolina. But before that election, Clayton had a long history of community organizing and politicking. During her extensive career, she has always maintained a devotion to the rights and struggles of working class people.

Governor Bev Perdue will lead a forum today on overcoming the challenges facing of the state's rural communities. Her first stop is in Martin County in eastern North Carolina.

85 of the state's 100 counties are considered rural. These small communities are struggling with higher-than-average unemployment, infrastructure problems, and young people moving away to larger cities.

Perdue will lead conversations on these and other challenges in an effort to improve rural competitiveness. The panels will be made up of state and local leaders, as well as rural development experts.

Rural roads and bridges across the country are often unsafe and in need of repair. That's according to a new report by TRIP, a national non-profit research group out of Washington. The report finds traffic deaths are around three times likelier on rural roads than all other roads. 907 people died on rural roads in North Carolina in 2009. That's the third highest total in the country.

Federal and state leaders are celebrating the second phase of a major broadband initiative across North Carolina.

Today’s virtual ground-breaking will take place in four corners of the state – including the Elizabeth City State University campus and the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.  Joe Freddoso is president and C-E-O of M-C-N-C.  He says the independent, non-profit has been funded to build more than15-hundred miles of broadband infrastructure – statewide.

Attorneys with the UNC-Chapel Hill Law School’s Center for Civil Rights say the three separate school districts in Halifax County are inherently unequal.