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Ridgeview Farm – 118 Acres Protected

View of Ridgeview FarmBrandon Hensley has no illusions about farm life in WNC — it’s hard work, with sparse financial rewards. However, a deep connection to his family’s land kept him working with SAHC over the lengthy 5-year process to permanently protect a beautiful, productive farm in an area pinched by increasing residential development.

In March 2019, we closed on the conservation easement protecting the 118-acre Ridgeview Farm in Buncombe County. Located just 2 miles from our Community Farm, this historic homestead farm contains a high percentage of agriculturally important soils. Brandon, a young farmer in his mid-30s, is carrying on his family’s legacy as the 5th generation to work this land.

Landowner farmer and NCADFP representative at closing.“I owe it to my family,” he shares. “My main goal was just to keep the heart of the farm together. My grandparents’ homeplace is here.”

Although the original log cabin is long gone, Brandon remembers it as a child, growing up with a close connection to his grandparents and the land.

“I think my grandfather would be very happy,” he continues. “My grandparents farmed for a living – that was their life. I wanted to do the conservation easement so that this land will stay this way – it will be protected forever. ”

Cattle at Ridgeview FarmCurrently used for hay and cattle production, the NC Century Farm was formerly the site of dairy operations. The family contacted SAHC about a conservation easement because they wanted to keep the land in the family, continue to farm it, and protect it from development.

“In the next few years, if building keeps going as it is, there won’t be any farms left around Asheville,” adds Hensley.

The protected farm tract contains 93% important agricultural soils, which are a precious commodity in the mountains.

Alternate view of Ridgeview Farm“Alexander is a rare gem in WNC, containing a much higher concentration of important agricultural soils than the surrounding region,” says Farmland Program Director Jess Laggis. “But it is also disproportionately under development pressure due to its ease of access from Asheville, the relative ease of development on low-lying bottomlands, and the undeniable beauty of the mountain views from its rolling hills.  And yet, despite these pressures, Alexander remains a relatively intact farming community.  Only time can tell, but Alexander has the potential to provide a model for sustainable food production with residential areas in close proximity to productive farms.  All of these factors make it an important and fascinating place to focus farmland preservation efforts.  I am deeply grateful to Brandon Hensley and the Bridges family for their commitment to conservation and their decision to protect this property forever.”

This project was made possible with grant funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, NC Agriculture Development & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, Buncombe County, and the Conservation Trust for NC, in addition to support from SAHC members, a generous gift by Brad and Shelli Stanback, and donation of a substantial portion of the easement value and stewardship contribution from the landowners.

Thank you to all our members for making this farmland conservation success possible!

Reeves Homeplace Farm

highelevationfield2“This project represents five years of hard work by the land trust, the landowner, and the agencies involved,” said Farmland Program Director William Hamilton. “This farm is representative of agriculture in Western North Carolina, and we are thrilled that the Reeves family will be able to continue owning, living and farming on this land in the future.”

Located in the Little Sandy Mush community amidst a scenic landscape of family farms, the property was part of a US land grant that once encompassed a much larger area. Landowner Betty Reeves is a 6th generation member of the Reeves family to farm the land, and she wanted to protect it with an agricultural conservation easement so that that it would be a resource for current and future farmers. Read more

Ivy Creek: 102-acre conservation easement in Madison County

ponders_cowbarnChancellor Emerita of UNC Asheville Anne Ponder and her husband Chris Brookhouse have protected their 102-acre property in Madison County with a conservation easement, preserving pastoral and forest land for future generations.

Visible from the French Broad River, Ivy Creek farm is characteristic of Madison County’s rural landscape, with open pasture ridge tops and steep wooded slopes. The tract is approximately 30% pasture, grazed by cattle, and 70% forest, with a variety of forest types and mixed hardwoods.
The property contains seeps, springs, streams and water courses of high water quality, including Ivy Creek and unnamed tributaries of the creek, which flows into the French Broad River. Permanently protecting the tract preserves water quality, future agricultural use, open space, and wildlife habitat on a parcel that could otherwise have become a fairly dense development. Read more

SAHC at Farm Aid 2014!

10608491_10152670898941352_2143835467641210278_oOur Project Conserve AmeriCorps Land Protection Associate, Caitlin Edenfield, joined Community Farm and Food Assistant Yael Girard at Farm Aid 2014 near Raleigh this year!

In 1985, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp joined forces and organized the first Farm Aid Concert. These iconic artists were on a mission to draw attention to the increasing loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farmers on their land. Similar to SAHC’s Farmland Program, Farm Aid’s mission is to keep America’s farmers farming. 28 years after the first Farm Aid concert SAHC sent two representatives of our Farmland Program (Caitlin Edenfield and Yael Girard) to the event to promote the new  ‘Farmer Incubator Program’ on Our Community Farm. Read more

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