Community Farm Updates, Fall 2021

French Broad River Academy volunteers help seed garlicSAHC’s 140-acre farm hosts beginning farm businesses, educational workshops, and service learning experiences. It’s a working model that blends productive agriculture and responsible land management with educational opportunities and community engagement. Contact us for more info about the programs, event space, or opportunities to visit the farm (by appointment).

This fall, we have been joined by multiple volunteer groups who assisted with diverse projects, including the French Broad River Academy boys and girls schools, the Willows Recovery Center and the accounting firm of Corliss & Solomon, PLLC. Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims continues to focus on outreach, education and volunteer engagement. Tamarya has been working to analyze the local food system and explore ways SAHC can better serve our community. Thank you to everyone involved in these efforts! Read more

Community Farm Update Summer 2021

This summer, Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims brought a whole new feel for farm life to a wide variety of camp and community groups. From partnering with the NC Arboretum in their EcoExplore program to teaching kids to safely hold chickens raised on the farm, this season has been full of volunteer work days and educational activity, growing young minds along with  agriculture.

Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims has been busy running educational programs on the farm this summer! In July, Tamarya taught groups from Project Lighten Up, Youth Transformed  for Life, and others about chickens, farming eggs, and how chickens fit into the farm ecosystems. Read more

Salamander Plots at the SAHC Community Farm

Child is crouched down, placing a label on a cross section slice of a small tree. There is a hammer to the right of the slice. The child is wearing a black raincoat and grey and orange sweatpants.

Student of French Broad River Academy installing salamander plots, courtesy of Tamarya Sims

There has been lots of buzz on the SAHC Community Farm about our new salamander plot program. This program was piloted by Tamarya Sims, our Community Farm Associate. Western North Carolina is often considered the salamander capital of the world. Despite this, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find salamanders in the region due to declining populations across all amphibian species. This is why Tamarya felt that the moist areas near the creek on SAHC’s Community farm would be perfect for salamander plots.

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Incubator Program Farmers Offer 2021 CSAs

We welcomed three new farm operations to our Farmer Incubator Program at the beginning of the year – and these three operations will be offering CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture subscription plans) for the 2021 season. We encourage you to sign up soon for the these CSAs. Your early investment helps the farmers get an early start in the season, then you enjoy the rewards of the harvest. More details on offerings, payment options, and pickup will be announced. From fresh mixed veggies – to medicinal herbs, tinctures, and salves – to stunning cut flowers, our SAHC Community Farm farmers have you covered!

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Community Farm Updates

SAHC’s 140-acre Community Farm hosts beginning farm businesses, educational workshops, and service learning experiences. The site includes a Farmer-Incubator Program, stream restoration and shortleaf pine reforestation projects, educational Discovery Trail (which can be visited by appointment), a bee yard, and indoor and outdoor space for special events. It’s a working model that blends productive agriculture with educational opportunities and community engagement.

Tamarya SimsWelcome Tamarya Sims, Community Farm Associate!

Tamarya (she/they) joined SAHC as full-time Community Farm Associate in June. They graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in Environmental Studies, and after college pursued environmental education and learning how to grow food. They served at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through American Conservation Experience and at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm through CTNC AmeriCorps. Tamarya loves teaching, photography, gardening, herbalism, beekeeping, raising chickens, and driving the SAHC tractor. Most of all, they are passionate about food justice and making farm and garden education accessible to all people. Read more

Farmer Incubator Program – Call for Applicants!

Farming is a business… What’s your business plan?

Do you have a farm business idea? Make it a reality! You are invited to join Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Farmer Incubator Program, a “business incubator” for farm operations.

Why a “Farmer Incubator”?

Farming = a long-term game. Traditionally, farming was a lifelong+ learning process, with families passing along experience, knowledge, and land accrued by multiple generations. Today, your experience in farming may be different. This program is part of a collaborative support system to help “incubate” farm businesses as they grow.

What do you get out of it?

  • Access land, support, and knowledge sharing. Land is one of the biggest expenses in farming. Get your farm operation to a successful state while in the Farmer Incubator Program, before taking on the cost of a land purchase. Benefit from weekly meetings with the Farm Manager and educational opportunities in our network.
  • Learn efficiencies to improve your bottom line. Streamline farming practices to create efficiencies and increase your profitability.
  • Feel empowered to try something new. Focus on farming, growing your contacts and sales connections, and developing your farm marketing, without worrying about paying a monthly mortgage for farmland.

Who can apply?

Beginning farmers with initiative — those who have some farm experience, but less than 10 years. Maybe you are a farmer currently in production but don’t have enough land.  Or, you’ve been working on someone else’s farm and feel prepared to start your own farm enterprise. Perhaps you finished an apprenticeship, farmed for a few years, and are ready to take your farming career to the next level.

Come Grow with Us….

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is expanding our Farmer Incubator Program onto land we acquired adjacent to our Community Farm. Be part of this expansion! On this property, we will implement a variety of agricultural techniques aimed to address climate change.

Find out more! Send us an inquiry, or begin the application process now.

SAHC’s Farmer Education Workshop Series is funded in part by a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program under award number 2016-70017-25341  for Farm Pathways:  Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farm Management: Pasture Walk

On a Thursday evening in September, I joined  20 neighbors, local farmers, landowners, for a pasture walk led by Buncombe Co. Cooperative Extension on SAHC’s 100+ acre community farm in Alexander, NC. Meghan Baker, Ethan Henderson, and Noah Henson took us all on an informative stroll to discuss management strategies and how to keep pastures healthy and productive. 

I joined the group as a new Intern with SAHC. It was an exciting foray into the world of local agriculture. As a student of Ecology, I spend a lot of time learning about and managing exotic invasive plants in forests, so it was fascinating to gain a new perspective. I learned that pasture land is an ecosystem in itself, and with the right management strategies, they can be productive, beneficial, and botanically diverse.  Read more

Value-Added Community Farm Kitchen

Recently at the Education Center at our Community Farm, preparations have been underway for the development of a new industrial-grade kitchen. For the past three years,  Community Farm Manager Chris Link has been guiding the transformation of space once used for dog kennels into an valuable resource.  We have created a value-added kitchen with Energy Star appliances, put in a larger well and septic systems, and installed photovoltaic solar panels. Using Madison County’s value-added kitchen as inspiration, we developed a kitchen layout that provides easier accessibility for farmers and a more convenient way to change raw materials into value-added packaged products; the kitchen will have high energy efficiency and lower costs, being financially accessible for community members. Read more