Sparrow Hill Farm

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

YMCA Horizons group visits Community Farm

Although the skies loomed dark, rain held off long enough for students of the YMCA Horizons after school program to tour our Community Farm Discovery Trail on March 30. Chris Link, our Community Farm & Food Associate led the group of about 30 AC Reynolds Middle School kids to learn about resilient Pineywoods heritage breed cattle, crop rotation, winter vegetable production, stream restoration, erosion prevention, and shortleaf pine. Read more

FBRA Girls Volunteer at Community Farm

We welcomed the French Broad River Academy Girls for a volunteer work day on our Community Farm on March 2. The middle school students explored the farm on an educational hike led by Chris Link, our Community Farm and Food Associate. Then they volunteered in the vegetable production area, doing bed preparation to transition from the winter to spring growing season. The girls volunteered in the greenhouses, caterpillar tunnels, and fields on the farm. They were particularly excited to find some remaining carrots to harvest! Thank you for your volunteer service! Read more

Project POWER visits Our Community Farm

A cold morning brightened up on November 18th just in time to indulge a large group of AmeriCorps members on a tour of our Community Farm. Chris Link, SAHC’s Community Farm Manager, and Travis Bordley, our Roan Volunteer Outreach Associate, hosted 26 AmeriCorps members from Project POWER, which stands for “Putting Opportunity Within Everyone’s Reach.”
Project POWER is a local division of the national AmeriCorps program. Members of Project POWER work exclusively in Buncombe Country and with at-risk youth in schools, non-profits and faith biased organizations. SAHC and Project POWER have been fostering a relationship to connect people with the environment and outdoor experiences on conservation properties.

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FBRA volunteers build trails at Community Farm

fbra2This month,  twelve 7th grade boys from the French Broad River Academy (FBRA) volunteered at our Community Farm. We are grateful for assistance from these positive, hard-working students! Service learning is a vital piece of the FBRA curriculum, and they partner with us several times a year to help out with various projects at the Community Farm.

We had a challenge for the student volunteers: we needed to re-grade an erosion-prone section of the Discovery Trail and build a retaining wall on the up-slope side. The boys got to work right away, with half of them using tools to carve out a small wall and re-grade the dirt along the trail. The other half teamed up to carry logs for the wall as our farm manager, Chris, felled and bucked a few already-dead trees on the property. Read more

Farm Pathways

protectbody_squareSAHC, Organic Growers School (OGS), and WNC Farmlink have been awarded a $600,000 federal grant over three years to continue developing Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access.

Farm Pathways was selected this year as one of 37 projects across the nation to receive funding from the US Dept. of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which aims to educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. Read more

Farm Workshop: The Two-wheel, Walk-behind Tractor

BCSworkshopWhy choose a two-wheel tractor for your home garden or small farmstead, instead of a standard four-wheel tractor or tiller?

This small but mighty tractor is a versatile investment. With over forty implements available, it is designed to be an all-in-one performer for hobby farms, market gardeners, and backyard homesteaders alike. It is a favorite around the world, known for comparative ease of maintenance and operation, with a lower initial price that puts it within reach of beginning and small-scale growers.

“The two-wheel tractor is just right for many operations — not too big and not too small,” said Community Farm & Food Program Associate Chris Link. “They are also particularly nimble and user-friendly on our hillsides and small pathways, and therefore, more efficient when you are working with a compact site.” Read more

Black Soldier Fly Digester Build Workshop

filling-the-digester“Black Soldier Fly” — the name resonates with fear and dread, and perhaps even conjures an image of winged, facet-eyed soldiers wielding guns. In reality, black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) are useful native critters that chew through organic remnants, helping turn organic material into compost while producing tasty treats for chickens.

The black soldier fly is a non-pest tropical and warm-temperate region insect useful for managing small and large amounts of biosolids and animal manure. They are native to this region but do not like to come indoors — so you won’t find them buzzing around the dinner table. They do not feed as adults or spread disease like other flies. Although large and potentially scary-looking, since the females can be about the size of a large wasp, they do not bite humans or livestock. After black soldier fly residue is vermicomposted, it can be used as a soil amendment. Read more

Meet the Farmers at Our Community Farm!

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

Helping Hands on the Farm – French Broad River Academy

fbra_blog4Middle school kids these days have a bit of a bad rap — they watch too much TV, they have no work ethic, and they never go outside. Well, whoever says that has never met the students from the French Broad River Academy. Over the past year-and-a-half the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from FBRA have volunteered over 700 hours at the SAHC Community Farm! Read more