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Keeping Our Mountains in Agriculture

On September 22nd, 2017, Christina Newhouse, Southwestern NC RC&D Council’s Agricultural Specialist, hosted a Mountain Farming Workshop in Marble, NC. The speakers of this workshop were Keith Wood of Cherokee County Cooperative Extension and Suzanna Denison of the WNC Farmlink Program.

Suzanna Denison teaching the group about how the WNC Farmlink Program helps keep our region in agricultural production.

Denison taught the group about how WNC Farmlink is a great tool for farmers or potential land owners. WNC Farmlink’s main goal is to keep farmland as farmland. Through this program, farmers are partnered with landowners who wish to keep their farm or forest land in agriculture. Over the last three to four years, the Farmlink Program has made twenty-five farm matches, which adds up to nearly three hundred of our mountain acres being kept in agricultural use.

During the second half of the workshop, Wood taught the class about woodland farming crops like herbs, ginseng, mushrooms, honey, and hops. Through Wood’s presentation, the group learned about each crop, how to care for it, and how to get started in woodland farming themselves. Wood’s presentation was especially important because of the lack of knowledge about woodland farming in our area.

Keith Wood teaching the group about various woodland agriculture products.

The class then traveled to the Welch Farm in Andrews, NC to attend the afternoon session of “Be a Mainspring” event hosted by Mainspring Conservation Trust. Although these were two separate workshops hosted by two separate organizations, they fell in perfectly together! The group learned what Mainspring’s role is in conserving our region’s farmland. They also learned some history behind the Welch Farm and what is being done to conserve the historic mid-1800s plantation today. To learn more about Mainspring Conservation Trust, click here. To learn more about the Welch Farm, click here.

Lunch was also served at the workshop at no cost to attendees through a generous donation from Carolina Farm Credit of Cherokee County.