A gift can make a change in someone’s life – and a gift of land can precipitate changes over many lifetimes. Since SAHC received the generous donation of the SAHC Community Farm in 2010, the property has been through myriad changes that make the space an exciting model of sustainable land management as well as a hub for local farming and healthy food products. With innovations conceptualized by Associate Director Kristy Urquhart, the SAHC Community Farm site plays host to young farmers, traveling guests and visitors, youth groups, workshop attendees, wildlife, weddings, and much more.
The land itself has changed over the past 12 years. A stream restoration project improved water quality and aquatic habitat in streams that flow across the farm into Newfound Creek and the French Broad River. Shortleaf pine reforestation work has led to hands-on educational opportunities for partners learning to manage healthy forest habitat with controlled fire. In one of our most recent updates, we are creating a retail farm market on the property. If you haven’t visited the farm recently, we encourage you to join us for a guided hike or workshop to see what’s new!
“The SAHC Community Farm has really come a long way since the land was donated to us in 2010,” says Associate Director Kristy Urquhart. “It’s been so exciting to move through the various stages of projects on the farm and to watch those take off. One of the most exciting new changes at the SAHC Community Farm is the addition of our new Farm Market Stand. There is almost 600 SF of building space and a walk-in cooler for product storage. Although the rolling Appalachian foothills are known for farming, there is actually a significant ‘food desert’ for ready products in these rural areas. SAHC’s Farm Market Stand will be a space for people to pick up CSA shares and products produced on the SAHC Community Farm as well as a joint market and meeting space for producers in the local area.”
“We’re finishing up the infrastructure improvements and look forward to using this space with the community in the near future,” adds Community Farm Manager Chris Link. “It creates a retail edge – an important space for not just farmers growing on the farm but also for neighbors to market their value-added products. We also look forward to this as a more interactive space for us to engage with folks in the community.”
This fall, we are organizing in-person workshops on the farm, beginning with a Small Engine Maintenance and ‘Repair Café’ on Tuesday, October 25 to learn how to care for your small engine farm equipment and repair rather than replace goods and equipment.
Farmer Incubator Program
An innovative program to help people ‘incubate’ their agriculture and farm businesses, SAHC’s Farm Incubator Program launched in 2013, with eight graduates of the program to date. The program is part of an ongoing “Farm Pathways” partnership with Organic Growers School and NC Farmlink to ensure that subsequent generations have the resources and training needed to continue food production. The partnership has just been awarded another round of funding from USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
Suzanne Nolter with Blazing Star Flowers produces stunning cut flowers, for weddings, special occasions, or just every day. You can purchase flowers in arranged bunches or a bucket of loose stems to arrange your own. Sign up for a subscription, or visit her at the East Asheville market on Fridays. For more info or to sign up, visit BlazingStarFlowers.com.
Noel Poindexter with Lunar Whale Herbs continues to grow fresh herbs for cooking and supplying your home apothecary. Folks who sign up for CSAs enjoy a selection of either fresh bundles of herbs or value-added ready products, such as tinctures and salves. Lunar Whale Herbs periodically hosts hands-on workshops. More info and sign-ups at www.LunarWhaleHerbs.com.
Justin Jones with Alta Vista Farms has graduated out of the program and will be farming on leased property he has secured in Leicester through the Farm Pathways network. Wesley Buckner and Cheyenne Cearly continue to grow their herd of Brahman-longhorn cross cattle.
Utopian Seed Project
Part of the importance of farming isn’t just producing food – it’s producing healthy food that sustains your soul, that nourishes your spirit. The Utopian seed project works to save seeds – especially heirloom seeds and species that are culturally significant. Former Community Farm Associate Tamarya Sims connected with the Utopian Seed Project and sparked a partnership with SAHC.
“The Utopian Seed Project select seeds for resiliency and size, protecting heirloom seeds that are in danger of going extinct,” explains Chris. “They needed more room to grow plants in different trials and to harvest and process those seeds, and now they are using about a quarter acre on the Community Farm to do that. Providing land for them to grow here will mean that seed is suitable to this land and climate.”
“As a land trust, helping to create seed banks is part of our commitment to enhancing food security,” adds Kristy. “Preserving heirloom seeds also ties into preservation and cultural heritage, honoring those that came before us.”
The Utopian Seed Project is non-profit organization, founded in 2018 with the support of Sow True Seed to conduct regional crop and variety trials. Their vision is an engaged community of growers, gardeners, farmers, foodies, cooks and chefs who embrace regional biodiversity because they understand and believe in a resilient, delicious and equitable food and farming system.
For more information, visit TheUtopianSeedProject.org.
Our Community Farm work is funded in part by grants from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and a cost-share grant from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.