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

Alexander Chapel Baptist Church Visit

Around the corner from SAHC’s Community Farm and other conserved farms in Alexander, community members are working to preserve an historic African-American church and cemetery. In conjunction with our “It’s Your Backyard” event in April, outdoor recreation ambassador Daniel White (The Blackalachian) led a bike ride from the Community Farm to the church, raising awareness about the significance of the site in local African American history. Read more

Prescribed Burn for Shortleaf Pine

This Spring, we used a prescribed (controlled) burn of 13 acres to help manage our shortleaf pine reforestation project at our Community Farm.

This prescribed burn will help restore the shortleaf pine by removing undesirable, competing plant species and giving the slower-growing shortleaf pine a chance to re-establish. Shortleaf pine is a fire-dependent and fire tolerant species, meaning that the species actually depends on fire in order to reproduce and thrive. Read more