From the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy:
Community Foundation of Western North Carolina supports local farm initiatives
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy receives grants for beginning farmer programs & WNC Farmlink
Asheville, NC – The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) recently awarded two grants to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), to support beginning farmers and help ensure that the next generation can continue farming.
“We are very grateful to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for demonstrating this commitment to our local community and food economy,” says Carl Silverstein, SAHC’s executive director. “These grants will help us continue to develop programs which provide direct impact on our local economy.”
SAHC was awarded $29,500 to grow the local food economy by expanding its agricultural business incubator for beginning farmers and its hands-on educational workshop series at SAHC Community Farm in Alexander, NC. The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant, which will cover staff, as well as modest equipment, infrastructure and training costs. The funds will match and be leveraged by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant (award number 2016-70017-25341 for Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access).
“This grant will help us continue to offer informative and engaging farm workshops,” says Chris Link, SAHC’s Community Farm and Food Associate. “CFWNC’s support for our Community Farm and Farmer Incubator Program helps us connect directly with young and beginning farmers in our region, making effective strides in overcoming obstacles for successful new agricultural enterprises.”
SAHC’s Farmer Incubator Program is one of 130 operational incubator farm programs in the nation, which support the operation of more than 1,170 farm businesses. SAHC accepts applications for the program on a rolling basis.
In addition to the Farmer Incubator Program, the SAHC Community Farm property is also the site for the local nonprofit’s Farmer Education Workshop Series, offering research-based educational programs that provide the local farming community with opportunities to see best management practices implemented.
This year’s topics include: a pasture walk for invasive plant identification and control (in cooperation with Buncombe County Extension Services), an introduction to two-wheel tractors, protecting your body while working on the farm, and irrigation design. The next upcoming farm workshop, “Pasture Walk for Invasive Plant ID, Control, and Removal,” will be held on Monday, May 8 from 5 to 6:30 pm. More workshops topics will be added throughout the year. A full schedule with details and registration info for workshops, as well as application instructions for the Farmer Incubator Program, can be found online at Appalachian.org.
SAHC, serving as fiscal agent for WNC FarmLink, also received $16,000 to support WNC FarmLink, a program to facilitate strong relationships between farmers looking for land to farm and landowners aspiring to keep their farms and forest land in agriculture. WNC Farmlink maintains a land listing and farm seeker database for the 23 western-most counties in North Carolina, offering one-on-one consultations, farm site visits, land tenure negotiations, farm financing, workshops and other land access support services.
“We work with each person to understand their personal interests, needs and vision,” says Suzanna Denison, WNC Farmlink’s coordinator. “With the collaborative resources of our partners, we can help guide you toward the lease, sale, or land use agreement that serves you best. We are grateful for the support from CFWNC, which will assist in continuing to meet the needs of landowners and agricultural land-seekers — so we can keep the next generation farming in Western North Carolina!”
SAHC’s Farmer Education Workshop Series:
- 1) Farm Workshop: Two-wheel “Walk Behind” Tractor Demo & Maintenance
- May 11 @ 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – $20
- 3) Farm Workshop: Protecting Your Biggest Asset on the Farm: Your Body
- June 25 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 p.m. – $20
- 4) Farm Workshop: “Skills for Every Farmer’s Toolbelt” — (For CRAFT members)
- July 9 @ 2:00 pm – 6:00 p.m.
- 5) Farm Workshop: Irrigation Design at the Small Farm Scale
- July 27 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 p.m.