In June, you helped purchase a conservation easement on 49 more acres of productive farmland in the lovely Sandy Mush community of northwestern Buncombe County. Sandy Hollar Farms is a Buncombe County attraction, with seasonal events like pick-your-own Christmas trees, pumpkins, and berries.
This idyllic slice of farmland is primarily used for row crops, fruits and berries, and Christmas tree production. According to landowner Curtis Hawkins, Sandy Hollar Farms is one of the biggest producers of blackberries in the county. They also grow squash, green beans, pumpkins, and other fresh produce, which goes to small retailers and farmers’ markets. There is a small herd of sheep and goats on the farm, along with llamas as pets, and landowner June Hawkins periodically gives natural dye and spinning demonstrations.
“Sandy Hollar Farms is a Buncombe County agritourism gem that serves the greater Asheville region with festive you-pick adventures and vacation rentals,” says Farmland Program Director Jess Laggis. “Part of the Farm Heritage Trail, the Hawkins provide visitors with hands-on agricultural experiences in the historic Sandy Mush farming community.
I am honored to have worked with the Hawkins to protect the farming legacy they’ve built at Sandy Hollar, and I can’t wait to bring my son to one of their events to meet the llamas!”
Curtis says farming in this area has been a tradition in the family for a long time – with a history that goes back to the late 1700s or early 1800s. The recently protected parcel was purchased by his father in 1950, just a part of more extensive family farmland holdings. His father farmed full-time, mostly in a tobacco and beef cattle operation. Curtis shares that “he never much liked the cattle business,” and he has been in Christmas tree farming for the past 45 years. His son helps out with the farm full-time. They operate a ‘Choose and Cut Christmas Tree’ business, with trees of various sizes, hay rides, hot chocolate, and more.
“A lot of my neighbors have done land conservation, and we reached a point where it made sense to do it,” says Curtis. “We are surrounded by conserved land, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s nice to know when you leave this earth that nothing is going to happen to this land except what we are doing with it.”
For info about visiting the farm, go to SandyHollarFarms.com.