By: Laurel Kays In seemingly every fire event, whether in Western North Carolina, Gatlinburg, or California, a familiar story is told in the media. In this story, wildfires are monstrous, demonic forces sweeping up and down mountains, engulfing homes and anything else...
Goldfinch Gardens: A TVA Energy for Farms Grant In recent years, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a more popular way for producers to connect with consumers. Goldfinch Gardens, owned and operated by Ben McCann and Cedar Johnson, has a very successful...
Gatlinburg Fire Anniversary: A Reminder to Take Fire Seriously By: Laurel Kays One year ago this week, flames roared down from Great Smoky Mountains National Park into Gatlinburg, consuming thousands of structures and claiming 14 lives. Gatlinburg has proved...
Southwestern NC RC&D Council will be hosting our Second Annual Farm Services Expo on December 7th, 2017. The Expo will be held in the Enloe Building at the Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC from 9:00 am-3:30 pm. The purpose of this event is to provide...
Energy Efficient Upgrades for Walnut Hollow Ranch Agri-tourism has become a big part of what draws tourists from across the country to our state. Agri-tourism consists of touring a working farm and learning about what that operation specializes in. Not only do the...
FOS Farm Becomes GAP Harmonized Certified Committing to farming is no easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to get a farming operation to its full potential. Nate Darnell, owner and operator of FOS (Fletcher, Obidiah, and Sophia, the names of Nate...
Southeast RC&D Association Meeting: The Southwestern RC&D Council will host a 9 state, 300 attendee meeting in Cherokee on June 21-24, 2015. Projects discussed will include North Carolina projects as well as top projects from all 9 states. Please visit the official website: www.2015sercdmeeting.org
Our Entire Service Area: The RC&D Council is facilitating informative radio programs and web podcasts for the USDA’s StrikeForce initiative. Purpose of this initiative is to help communities leverage their resources to access programs, promote economic development and create more jobs. Listen to our programs here and here.
Smoky Mountain Ag Development Station: The old Drexel Plant is moving along and a Master Plan based on 2 Community Meetings and a SMADS Committee formerly chaired by the RC&D Council has been completed. Jackson County has now taken leadership for the committee with planner Gerald Green as chairman. The next steps include a building assessment, a decision by the Board of Commissioners to make it a formal project, including regional agriculture activities. A third public meeting in March has been scheduled. A TVA grant by the RC&D Council is being submitted to have portable cattle equipment within the three county area of Jackson, Swain and Macon.
High Tunnel Initiative: The RC&D has been awarded a high tunnel project submitted to the WNC Community Foundation for $22,500 to hire a field specialist part-time to work with high tunnel operators. An additional grant was submitted to ADFP Trust Fund to make it full-time. The position will be a contract position first based in Clay, Cherokee, Macon and Graham Counties. This program is expected to expand to Swain, and Jackson Counties as well as the EBCI as NRCS fills new staff positions.
Smoky Mountain Agriculture Development Strategy: The RC&D is continuing to work on the agriculture economic strategy through ADFP Trust Funds. In addition, the Council was asked to participate in the Agri-Ventures project for a two day meeting in Boone to explore additional needs. Although there are major economic engines, such as cattle, the mountain agriculture is very diverse. Mountain agriculture recognizes the impact of supplemental incomes on low income and impoverished households.
REAP: Four RC&D Councils are teaming up for a REAP grant to work with rural businesses, communities and farms to assess alternative energy projects. In addition the RC&D received a grant to assist NRCS with energy audits and reduction projects using EQIP Funds. Our grant will be used as match for the REAP proposal.
Erosion and Sediment Training: An erosion and sediment training will take place at the Waynesville Farm Service Center in March through our Maggie Valley Project funded by the Pigeon River Fund. Jackson and Swain Contractors will be invited.
Graham County: The first TVA grant to build agriculture capabilities was very successful. From that project we have started the high tunnel initiative, work with cattlemen, honey producers and the Smoky Mountain Ag development strategy. We did edits on the successful fence restoration grant for the SWCD.
Swain County:The RC&D helped Swain SWCD purchase a water table for the education trailer, investigated funding for the Bryson City Greenway and Farmer’s market, and are working with Story Teller, Tim Hall, Bryson City on a living history farm. We funded the Swain County CES 100 year celebration through director, Rob Hawk.
Clay County: Clay County received funding to repair erosion damage on Town Creek. The engineering is being completed by the NC Division of Soil and Water. Construction should begin this spring. The RC&D received funding for an equipment trailer for the Hayesville Market and works extensively with SAFF and other agriculture groups. The RC&D has been asked to help the Clay SWCD find funding for dry hydrants. The Smoky Mountain Agriculture Development project will involve Clay County farmers. The cattle load-out facility is open regionally to all cattlemen. In addition, personal interviews with key farmers and agriculture leaders will be done in Clay County.
Jackson County:With the Drexel Plant located in Whittier, Jackson County has been a focus project for the Smoky Mountain Ag Development Station. Grants from Z Smith Reynolds, ADFP Trust Fund and the WNC Community Foundation have provided resources to carryout this work. The RC&D provided resources for the 100 year celebration of Cooperative Extension Service.
Cherokee County- Marble Elementary School Outdoor Classroom; White Oak Tree Plantings at Cherokee Central Schools (pictured)
Clay County- Brasstown Recreation Track; Jackrabbit Mountain Bike Trail at Lake Chatuge (pictured)
Graham County- Fontana Lake Waste Management Program; Walking Trail at Stecoa Community Center (pictured)
Macon County- Burningtown Creek Stream Restoration; Streambank and Riparian restoration (pictured)
Swain County- Swain County Emergency Watershed Protection Program; Handicap Fishing Pier at 288 Park (pictured)
Jackson County- Pinnacle Park Trail; Demonstration Stream Table for Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District (pictured)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians- Oconaluftee River Watershed Program; Walking Bridge in Island Park (pictured)
Haywood County- Canton Watershed Recreation Trails; Installation of Stormwater Treatment Best Management Practices at Bethel Elementary (pictured)