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!
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.
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.
This year we welcome Wesley (Wes) Buckner and Cheyenne Cearley of WC Performance Horses & Cattle Co into our Farmer Incubator Program. Wes and Cheyenne are operating a cow-calf operation on the farm, with plans to build up their herd of Brahman-longhorn cross cattle.
“We wanted to be part of the Farmer Incubator Program to take our herd and cattle operation to the next level,” says Wes, who grew up in the area and currently works as a farrier. “It’s such a great opportunity, set up perfectly for what we need and only two miles from our home. We look forward to the next few years growing our herd and farming skill sets. The Brahman-longhorn cross we are breeding are very hearty animals who do well in many conditions and can clean up rough terrain, like a goat. We were also drawn to their unique look.”
Exotics like the Brahman-longhorn cross can help diversify a cattle program, commanding a higher price at market, and may be favored by landowners for managing fields because they are beautiful and resilient foragers.
“I’m a young farmer who is passionate about farming and preserving the lifestyle and land,” continues Wes. “My family has been farming this area for several decades. As we are now taking over and branching out on our own, it’s sad to see less and less farmland available in the region.”
The Buckners have historic family roots in the Alexander community, and Wes remembers his father purchasing bulls from Robert and Marie Anderson, who owned the Community Farm property before it was donated to SAHC. He recalls Mr. Anderson as a “very fair and honest person.”
“I really enjoy being out on the land caring for my animals,” adds Wes. “We hope to grow a big enough herd and find land for long-term lease or buy pastureland after our term in the Incubator Program is over, so we can continue farming for years to come.”
Our Community Farm Manager, Chris Link, blogs about updates from our Community Farm:
We enjoy the break in buzzing activity that comes every January. Not completely dormant by any means, this season for planning and taking stock is valuable in its own right.
While I can wax poetic about the meditative frosty mornings and the fun flurry of animals moving around (one resident fox is quite obvious in the still and monochrome landscape), there’s much work to be done on our ongoing projects here. We’re planning work in the stream restoration area which improves our water and habitat, preparing community kitchen space which will open to the public this spring (along with our new event venue!), and organizing many educational workshop offerings — including a controlled-burn to support the fledgling short-leaf pine habitat.
We’re also hoping to expand our team of incubating farm businesses who grow and/or raise animals out here! If you need to take the next step in your farm business, our Farmer Incubator Program is set up to support you. We have many types of infrastructure for varying enterprises, staff technical support, access to the Organic Growers School Farm Beginnings training, social media and marketing support.
Click HERE to apply today.
New participants in our Farmer Incubator Program, Claudie Babineaux and Sarah Bostick have been doing very physical labor for years. However, they frequently run into people who challenge the idea that two petite ladies can accomplish such work. In naming their farm business “Half Pint Farm,” they decided to ‘own it’.
“This name, Half Pint Farm, really works for us because people have always challenged our ability to do things because of our size,” shares Sarah. Their farm name also relates to scale of production — Claudie and Sarah have both worked in intensive farming on 5-10 acre parcels in the past, primarily in Florida and Maine, but they now want to focus on a smaller scale. They are using their first year in our Farmer Incubator Program learn about the particulars of farming in the Southern Appalachians, such as how soil and weather behave with certain varieties of produce.
“We have experience in farming, but not here in the mountains,” says Sarah. “We aspire to own our own farm, and it’s important to do a lot of learning before investing in our own land. We plan to use our time in the program to learn about the intricacies of farming in this soil — in this climate and landscape — because it’s really different from what we’re used to.” Read more
Our Community Farm continues to serve as a model — balancing agricultural production with environmental responsibility while providing educational opportunities.
Farmer Incubator Program
Will Salley and Savannah Salley of Headwaters Market Garden use a unique French method of bio-intensive vegetable production on small acreage. Currently in their first year of full-time farming, they have wholesale and restaurant accounts. They will return to the downtown Asheville City Market in the Spring, to host a booth on Saturday mornings. Next year, they plan to expand their operation with mushroom and egg production. Read more
We welcome Will and Savannah Salley of Headwaters Market Garden, new vegetable producers on our Community Farm. Their operation focuses on growing seasonal mixed vegetables and culinary herbs. Will and Savannah recently returned to the Carolinas after living in Maui, Hawaii and are launching their new market garden business through participation in our Farmer Incubator Program.
The hearty pineywoods cattle on our Community Farm have interesting personality quirks, according to farmer Gina Raicovich. The herd has been growing, with eight cow-calf pairs currently thriving. Gina has diversifed her Sparrow Hill Farm agricultural enterprise and is looking for grazing land for the herd after her time in our Farmer Incubator Program.
“It’s been really fun to watch how they function as a herd,” says Gina. “They are very good natured and have basic instincts that seem more like a free-range herd. I watched one mother give birth, and then every other cow came over and licked the baby, helping out while the mother recovered. I haven’t seen other cattle do that. At other times, I’ve seen them take turns as one mom ‘babysits’ all the calves while the other cows graze. They can be very inquisitive and charismatic, too.” Read more
Matt Coffay and Casara Logan of Second Spring Market Garden are in the house! The greenhouse, that is.
We want to send a big welcome to these first vegetable producers in our new Farmer Incubator Program, and a thank you to all the volunteers who helped put up infrastructure so they can start growing.
Second Spring Market Garden offers Asheville’s first 52-week CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) supplying fresh produce year-round. They will be growing a variety of vegetables using organic methods and efficient four-season production with two heated greenhouses now in place on our Community Farm. Read more
The mission of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is to conserve the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic beauty, and places for all people to enjoy outdoor recreation in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, enduring for future generations. We achieve this through long-term conservation relationships with private landowners and public agencies and owning and managing land. We are committed to creating and supporting equitable, healthy and thriving communities for everyone in our region.
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372 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801