View of pasture, forest edge, Sandy Mush community

Brown Family Farm

Cattle in pasture at forest edgeThe Buncombe County Farm Heritage trails winds through scenic farming communities in the Leicester, Sandy Mush, and Alexander areas of the county. Now, views of rolling pastures and forested hillsides along the farm trail at the Brown Family Farm have been permanently protected. Thank you to all the SAHC members and supporters who have made farmland preservation possible here and throughout the region!

“The Brown Family Farm is a great example of farmland protection working for conservation-minded landowners,” says Farmland Conservation Director Jess Laggis. “Margaret and Grover Brown wanted to retire from farming, and their twin sons, Robert and Stephen (and wife Angela), wanted to expand the existing cattle operation. The easement provides the means for this  farm operation to continue without the need to parcelize the land and inhibit the next generation’s farm use. AND, it’s just stunning, and anchors the viewshed on both sides of South Turkey Creek Road, a route beloved by motorists and cyclists for its scenery.”

The 175 acres now permanently protected at the farm contain important agricultural soils, undeveloped forested and nonforested habitat for wildlife, frontage along South Turkey Creek Road, and stream corridors. The land has been in agricultural use for as long as anyone can remember. The current Brown Family Farm was established in 1952, originally organized as a dairy farm.

Brown family members and farmland conservation partners on site visit to farm“The farm is a 4th generation family farm,” says Angela Brown on behalf of the family. “The farm was a dairy farm until 1995 when the dairy industry in western North Carolina took a downturn. In 1995 the farm converted to beef, tobacco and hay production. We no longer grow tobacco, and the farm is now focused on beef cattle and hay production. Our hope is that Grover will be able to ease into retirement, but for the time being he is still actively farming as he has for years. Stephen and Robert have stepped in to help Grover to continue on the farm work into the future, and they plan to continue farming. Our goal of preserving our farmland is to keep it a farm from now on as our family and family before wanted.”

Conservation of the farm was made possible by a grant from the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture, Brad and Shelli Stanback, a grant from Buncombe County, and donation of a portion of the conservation easement value by the landowners. Mountain Valley RC&D helped SAHC secure grant funding from NC Dept. Agriculture to make this project possible.

“We are incredibly excited that through dedication from SAHC and partnership with Buncombe Land Conservation Advisory Board’s transaction cost funding, both Brown Family Farm and Full Sun Farm will be protected permanently as working farmlands,” says Ariel Zijp, Farmland Preservation Coordinator. “By protecting these two properties, SAHC will bridge gaps in designated priority regions of Farmland as well as strengthen relationships with conservation partners and land stewards in the community.”

Partner Perspective: Buncombe County Farmland Conservation, Ariel Zijp, Farmland Preservation Coordinator

Protected farmland in Sandy Mush community of Buncombe County“As Asheville grows as a tourist destination, and development soars, Farmland Preservation is a high priority for Buncombe County. Land Protection completed by our non-profit land trust partners aligns strongly with the Buncombe County 2025 Strategic Plan Goal: Preserve farmland and environmentally sensitive tracts of land. By protecting Farmland, we are not only protecting land from development, but we are also protecting farm family’s livelihoods, protecting fertile agricultural soils which took a thousand years to form, protecting scenic mountain viewsheds which draws millions of tourists a year, protecting Asheville’s vibrant foodshed on which the restaurant industry depends, and securing land access to farming generations to come. Thank you to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for continuing to move forward this imperative land protection mission.”