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.
Welcome 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.
Tamarya is very interested in beekeeping and has been working on getting a beekeeping certification for the past two years. After the bees at the Community Farm swarmed, Tamarya introduced a new queen to the hive and is working to get them settled. We hope next year that we will be able to incorporate more bee pollinator activities into education programs at the farm.
Engaging in Community
“We have started a vegetable donation plot with donated plant starts in response to the COVID-19 affecting our world and community,”says Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims. “Earlier this summer we grew squash and tomatoes, and now we are growing sweet potatoes, collard greens, kale, broccoli, and tatsoi, which is similar to bok choy but smaller and more leafy. With this plot, we hope to increase food security for the Asheville community most in need.”
Tamarya is passionate about food justice and ending food apartheid. “I’ve started a project to serve Black community gardens in Asheville, spending time in the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens on a new vegetable plot,” says Tamarya.” I’ve been doing garden maintenance and mentoring two young individuals from the community so they can take on garden responsibilities in the future. This work is helping in the process of getting fresh produce to elders and others in the community.”
Tamarya has also been busy keeping the rapidly growing vegetation along the Discovery Trail at bay, to keep the trail clear and accessible.
French Broad River Academy students have returned for limited volunteer work projects this fall. They are continuing to help manage growth in the stream restoration area and assisting with management of the vegetable growing area.
Goats on Kudzu
Always a welcome, friendly sight, goats on the farm continue munching kudzu and helping to manage invasive species. The herd of 14 goats from K.D. Ecological Services rotates through four paddocks across nine acres of the farm.
Community Farm Expansion
Design studio students from Clemson University’s Landscape Architecture program are working with us throughout the semester to help create a plan for the expansion of growing operations on the eastern side of the property. We purchased this portion of the property in 2018, and have been able to use the expansion process to create educational workshops and volunteer opportunities, explore a variety of sustainable farming techniques, and begin to create a new space for a farm stand.
A cost-share grant from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service enabled us to engage Carolina Farm Stewardship Association to create an organic production plan for the farm, and we will use this plan in the process of opening more acreage for food production. We’ve completed a 100 SF walk-in cooler for keeping farm produce fresh, and finished grading for a new greenhouse, both made possible by a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.
Farmer Incubator Program
Three farmers are currently enrolled in the Farmer Incubator Program. Julia Costa of Wild Jewels Farm is producing mixed vegetables and flowers for local restaurants, and Wes Buckner and Cheyenne Cearley with their herd of Brahman-longhorn cross cattle. Eight calves have been born on the farm this year, bringing the herd to 28 cattle. We are currently in the process of interviewing a variety of qualified candidates to begin the program soon, as well as renovating and updating existing infrastructure in the vegetable growing area. New farmers will be growing vegetables, herbs, perennials and flowers.