Community Farm - Food Project Phase II - Initiation

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2012: $9,996.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Allison Kiehl
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees, poultry, goats, swine, sheep
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: housing, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages
  • Crop Production: multiple cropping
  • Education and Training: general education and training
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, wildlife
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, employment opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) is a non-profit land trust that preserves the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, local farmland and scenic beauty of the mountains of North Carolina and east Tennessee for the benefit of present and future generations. In 2005, SAHC established its Farmland Program to preserve working agricultural lands important to the natural and cultural heritage of western North Carolina. The success of the program has resulted in protection of over 5,000 acres of farmland throughout the region. In 2009, SAHC was donated a 100-acre working farm (the property) located in Alexander, NC –surrounded by significant farming communities of Buncombe County. Recognizing an incredible opportunity for the property to address some needs of local rural citizens and farmers, in 2012, SAHC staff performed research, assessed local needs, and developed partnerships to plan a Community Farm and Food Project at the property. SAHC is seeking funds for 2013 to initiate and implement the beginning stages of this project. During the 2012 research period, it was found that access to farmland for beginning farmers and expanding agricultural operations is one of the issues of most concern among the local agricultural community. It was also found that farmers are interested in more opportunities for post-harvest processing and value-added processing to stay competitive and innovative in the market. Still, other concerns that were found include the gap in access to local, healthy food among low-income communities, and the missing connection with how food is grown among children of those communities. The research also indicated there are multiple partner organizations concerned with these issues that are poised to find innovative solutions. SAHC’s Community Farm and Food Project will include several facets developed in stages that will address the needs of the region’s agricultural and rural communities discussed above. One of the first stages that will initiate in 2013 is to establish the property as an incubator farm for new and beginning farmers – providing access to land and equipment at reduced rates for multiple new farmers. The first year will be a pilot phase of the incubator farm and will support a small, focused group of farmers. As funding allows, potential future development stages of the incubator will include a post-harvest processing & storage facility, value-added processing facility, housing for the farmers, and an educational gathering space. This will allow the farm to reach other producers in the area through rental of the processing space and equipment as well as educational courses. With this project, SAHC also wishes to engage local youth of low-income communities to provide an on-farm educational experience on how food is grown – increasing the quality of life for at-risk youth in the region. This aspect of the project will begin with the establishment of a farm trail to provide full access to the farm for visitors. Healthy food produced on the farm will also eventually be provided to citizens of these communities at little or no cost by collaborating with partners that already work in these communities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Although SAHC’s Community Farm and Food Project will develop over several years, SCIG funds for 2013 will be focused on implementation of the incubator farm and development of the farm trail for educational purposes. Some planning of the processing facility and access to healthy food aspects of this project will take place in 2013. Objectives for the year 2013 of this project include:

    1. Farm Infrastructure Planning and Development – This will include firming up the farm plan, research of additional funding sources, planning and implementing farm and infrastructure improvements that are necessary, equipment acquisition, and research into construction of the post-harvest and value-added processing facility.
    2. Incubator Program Development – This will include creation of policies and procedures for the incubator farm and forming an application process for the incubator. It will also include collaboration with local agricultural agencies to develop a technical training program for the participating incubator farmers based on sustainable agriculture practices. Lastly, this step will include collaborating with other local organizations to create marketing opportunities for the participant farmers.
    3. Education and Food Access Site Development – Work with partner organizations to develop an educational farm trail. Collaborate with other organizations already working with low income and rural communities to bring groups out for an on-farm educational experience. Develop partnerships with these organizations to provide food to these communities once it is being produced at the farm.
    4. Incubator Pilot Program Development – At the end of this grant period, it is a goal to have the planning and infrastructure ready to provide land and equipment to at least two beginning farm operators - more farmers may be accepted during the pilot phase, depending on their operations of choice and available acreage

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.