Inspiring by example the preservation of mountain landscapes and farmsteads.
Appalachian Homestead Farm & Preserve is a historic hardscrabble farm established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization focused on education, advocacy and research. We have in our possession the original land grant documents dating to 1834 and 1856 when white settlers first came to the far western mountains of NC. Just as settlers found it necessary to work together across the steep mountain terrain to raise barns and cabins, clear newground, make quilts and molasses (and sometimes moonshine!), and to bury the dead and shepherd new babies into this little corner of God's world, Appalachian Homestead Farm & Preserve has found many wonderful community partners, including Catch the Spirit of Appalachia--our primary nonprofit partner, Western Carolina University, Jackson County 4-H, and North Carolina's many fine departments of agriculture and farming.
Over the years this 225 acre farmstead was divided and fell out of the Bennett family's hands, with the exception of about 15 acres. In 2005, a 52 acre parcel was purchased with a private foundation grant, and an additional 14 acre parcel was purchased in 2007 through private efforts with plans to add it to the nonprofit preserve. This historic farmstead has the original chimneys to the settlers cabins and part of the chestnut log barn still intact. Conservation easements with the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee ensure that the Farm will never be developed and that the headwater streams and plant and animal habitat will be protected in perpetuity. A recent biological survey counts 460 different plant species on the Farm and headwater streams measure at an unheard of 1.047 turbidity (purity) rating.
Currently the Farm is cleaning up 50+ years of neglect and making critical repairs to existing structures through volunteer and service-learning assistance from local citizens and student groups from Western Carolina University. Summer youth camp programs for the past three summers have provided rare opportunities for area youth to participate in heritage, culture and outdoor education programs. Long range plans for the Farm include:
* A living history farm, complete with replica cabins, outbuildings and methods of farming.
* A field farm school to help mountain families learn how to grow small-scale heirloom fruits, vegetables, herbs and native landscape plants as a means of increasing their capacity to hold onto their farmsteads in a rapidly developing region.
*A folk school with affordable and readily accessible workshops where mountain families and youth can learn the traditional craft and culture trade with which they can generate income in the new agri and heritage tourism economies.
* An expanded summer youth program that includes overnight camps and offers special programs for children of all ages with special challenges.
Eggs, native plants and shrubs, raspberries in season. We also hold summer youth camp program focused on heritage, culture and outdoor and farming education, and we hold annual farmland preservation forums for the general public.
Appalachian Homestead FArm & Preserve is located at the end of the gravel path at 4088 Tilley Creek Rd. Cullowhee, just 4.5 miles from Western Carolina University.
The Farm does not yet have staff, though two couples live in residential units on the farm and help with clean-up and improvements. Vera Guise, founding President of the Farm and a direct descendant of the Bennett clan who lived there from the early 1800's, can be reached by phone and for scheduled Farm tours between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
We do not yet sell farm products to the public..........stay tuned for that! Summer youth programs are available each summer and registration forms are on the Farm website.