Southwestern NC RC&D Agriculture Projects

Southwestern NC RC&D has five focus areas that include Agriculture-Economic Development as well as forestry, water quality, energy and other natural resource concerns associated with agriculture.  Over the last five years, the RC&D has facilitated many projects, helped create a regional agriculture support system and has been very proactive on many regional agriculture initiatives.

Projects:

For the Adelgid Research Project, the old camp bathhouse located at the Mountain Research station was restored into a research area. Also, greenhouses were constructed for the future propagation of hemlock trees for the project.

For the Adelgid Research Project, the old camp bathhouse located at the Mountain Research station was restored into a research area. Also, greenhouses were constructed for the future propagation of hemlock trees for the project.

The TVA Ag and Forestry Program was administered through WNC Communities.  The RC&D assisted with grants such as Graham Friends of Agriculture, purchasing cattle equipment, assisting local farmers markets and securing pasture renovation equipment.  As a major part of the funding the RC&D Council assisted with Adelgid Research projects which led up to restoring an old bath house to a full research facility at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville.  All these grants, except one, were pass-through projects and treated as supporting match activities.

The TVA Ag and Forestry Program was administered through WNC Communities.  The RC&D assisted with grants such as Graham Friends of Agriculture, purchasing cattle equipment, assisting local farmers markets and securing pasture renovation equipment.  As a major part of the funding the RC&D Council assisted with Adelgid Research projects which led up to restoring an old bath house to a full research facility at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville.  All these grants, except one, were pass-through projects and treated as supporting match activities.

Goldfinch Gardens has had great success growing plants in their high tunnels from seed to start in their CSA garden.

Goldfinch Gardens has had great success growing plants in their high tunnels from seed to start in their CSA garden.

The Z Smith Reynolds Foundation provided funds to work on the abandoned Drexel Plant in Whittier, NC as a potential Ag Development Center.  The building is now leased by five farming operations for various agriculture businesses.  The spin offs from this effort have been great including a regional focus on agriculture by the Community Colleges (Appalachian Farm School); the EBCI forming an agriculture, forestry, and natural resource department; several new regional grants and an integration of agriculture as part of the region’s economic base.

ADFP funded the Smoky Mountain Ag Economic Strategy and a very successful High Tunnel Initiative with over 100 new high tunnels in the seven western counties.  ADFP has also funded 6 six farmland preservation conservation easements through the RC&D.  The funds have then been matched with USDA-NRCS funding for 11 support positions to assist with Farm Bill Programs.

The High Tunnel Initiative fostered several other funders, addressing food safety, high tunnel management and marketing as well as on-farm technical assistance.  Other funders included the Community Foundation of WNC, ARC – Appalachian Regional Commission, USDA-NRCS and the TVA Ag Energy project covering over 30 counties.

Students from Western Carolina University working diligently on their hydroelectric capstone project at Everett Williams’ trout farm.

Students from Western Carolina University working diligently on their hydroelectric capstone project at Everett Williams’ trout farm.

Current efforts include working with dairy farms in Jonathan Creek on water quality, additional farmland preservation easements, program outreach for USDA EQIP, US Forest Service Fire Adapted Communities, agriculture energy projects and regional agriculture coordination.

We have been working with the trout farms on both water quality through a 319NPS grant to construct filter basins on Howard Brown’s trout farm and a hydro-power project through Western Carolina University on Everett Williams’ trout farm.

Written by: Lynn Sprague, Executive Director