Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Amanda Page, Margaret McLeod Leef Published

The Appalachian Forager And Crosswinds, Inside Appalachia

greens growing out of the ground.
A field of ramps, growing in the shade, at an undisclosed location.
Bill Lynch/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, the woman behind the popular TikTok account “Appalachian Forager” makes jam from wild pawpaws … and jewelry from coyote teeth.

We also talk with the hosts of a new podcast that looks at coal dust exposure beyond the mines, affecting people far downstream from Appalachia. 

And, in some places, slavery continued in different forms well after the end of the Civil War. A new marker in Western North Carolina acknowledges that history and commemorates a disaster that killed 19 Black prisoners.

You’ll hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Appalachian Forager Found In TikTok

A woman sits on a blue four wheeler and wears sunglasses.
The Appalachian Forager brings native know-how to TikTok with a side of silly.

Photo Credit: Amanda Page/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gathering wild foods has long been a way to put food on the table in the Appalachian mountains. In recent years, the practice has gone digital, with online communities devoted to foraging in the wild, springing up like wild mushrooms after a spring rain.

One woman in eastern Kentucky is sharing what she knows (and some humor) with the TikTok generation through an account called “Appalachian Forager.”   

Folkways Reporter Amanda Page has the story.

Let’s Talking About Taxidermy

A young woman works on a taxidermy bobcat.
Taxidermist Amy Ritchie is sharing the love of her craft with other enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Margaret McLeod Leef/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A lot of folks are fascinated by the results of taxidermy. The preservation and mounting of dead animals has been around since at least the middle ages.

In 2023, Folkways Reporter Margaret McLeod Leef visited a modern practitioner in Yadkin County, North Carolina.

Downstream Dangers Of Coal Dust

A wide shot of a Dominion terminal residents say blows coal dust.
The Dominion terminal and coal storage facility in Newport News, Virginia, where residents in nearby neighborhoods have complained of blowing coal dust.

Photo Credit: Adrian Wood

Appalachia plays an important part in the world economy. The region produces less coal than it used to — but it’s still a hot commodity for steel makers. That demand creates problems for people living near the terminals where coal is moved from train to ship, to then be carried overseas. Residents of Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia, say airborne coal dust from export terminals is coating their cars and houses — and getting into their lungs.

A new podcast called Crosswinds links that fight on the coast to communities in West Virginia.

Host Mason Adams spoke with spoke with Crosswinds producer Adrian Wood, and Lathaniel Kirts, a pastor and activist in one of the affected communities. 

Remembering The Continuation Of Slavery

No known photographs remain of the convict labor crew that the Cowee 19 worked on, but historians say this crew working on the Western North Carolina Railroad in the late 1800s was similar.

Photo Credit: Hunter Library Special Collections, Western Carolina University

North Carolina is unveiling a roadside historical marker that officially acknowledges the 1882 Cowee Tunnel disaster. Nineteen prisoners were drowned when their boat capsized in a river west of Asheville.

The marker also acknowledges a form of de facto slavery, used for decades following the Civil War. We heard from Jay Price at WUNC. 

The Last Of The Ramps

Ramps growing in the ground.
Toward the end of the season, ramp leaves begin to shrivel and die off.

Photo Credit: Bill Lynch/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ramp season is winding down in central Appalachia, but before the last ramp was picked, Producer Bill Lynch followed a friend out for a late harvest at her secret ramp patch.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Tyler Childers, Sierra Ferrell, Bob Thompson, Dinosaur Burps and Tim Bing.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. We had help this week from folkways editor Jennifer Goren.

You can send us an email:

You can find us on Instagram, Threads and Twitter @InAppalachia. Or here on Facebook.

Sign-up for the Inside Appalachia Newsletter!

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.