Media: 2008 Western Counties

PROJECT

Western Counties

In Haywood County, John and Lisa Leatherwood will add rhododendrons to their tomato and cattle farm. Rhodos are new to the Leatherwoods and can be an expensive operation to start. But vegetables do not always have as secure of a market as vegetation for landscaping, John Leatherwood said. He hopes rhododendron sales will make up for the loss he’s felt since he stopped growing tobacco.

"I want to keep my farm going," said Leatherwood, whose family’s income solely comes from farming. "It’s in my blood, and I want farming to be there for my two teenage sons if they want it."

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In Haywood County, John and Lisa Leatherwood will add rhododendrons to their tomato and cattle farm. Rhodos are new to the Leatherwoods and can be an expensive operation to start. But vegetables do not always have as secure of a market as vegetation for landscaping, John Leatherwood said. He hopes rhododendron sales will make up for the loss he’s felt since he stopped growing tobacco.

"I want to keep my farm going," said Leatherwood, whose family’s income solely comes from farming. "It’s in my blood, and I want farming to be there for my two teenage sons if they want it."

Thomas Miller in Swain County will produce rare heritage breeds of hogs and sell naturally grown pork, moving his farm from small to eventually medium-sized. "This property wasn’t going to be used otherwise," he said. "It’s nice to have some farmland remain farmland."

Miller said the costs involved in fencing and construction would have prohibited him from moving forward on the project if not for the AgOptions grant.

Along with Leatherwood and Miller, 13 other AgOptions recipients are in the far West district:

  • In the Cherokee Reservation, Harold and Nancy Long will grow organic and heirloom tomatoes, beans and mustard for local restaurants and local farmers’ markets. Harold has been traditionally growing vegetables since 1962.
  • In the Cherokee Reservation, Joseph and Catt Redcloud will expand their herbal salves and syrups business by adding onto their greenhouse that houses native plants. They will offer educational workshops to their customers.
  • In Cherokee County, Edgar Wood, a corn, soybean & pumpkin grower, will renovate his pastures to raise hormone-free grass-finished beef.
  • In Clay County, Andrew Jones will grow his small goat operation by building sufficient shelter and fencing. His farm will be on land in Fires Creek where four generations of his family has lived.
  • In Graham County, Bobby Williams will start a wholesale nursery that will specialize in native plants.
  • In Haywood County, Chris and Rachel Leek will diversify their small organic farm by propagating flowers and herbs to sell to restaurants, retailers and individuals.
  • In Haywood County, Matt Rhea will attract visitors to Sorrell’s Creek Trout Farm by constructing a demonstration stream, fishing area, hiking trail, picnic tables and educational opportunities.
  • In Haywood County, Michael Singleton will expand his beekeeping operation so that he can provide other beekeepers with a local source of bee colonies.
  • In Jackson County, Vera Guise, operator of the non-profit organization Appalachian Homestead, will establish a demonstration field of diverse crops to teach summer youth campers about traditional mountain homesteading and inspire small plot farmers.
  • In Jackson County, Michael Creason will expand his beekeeping and blueberry operation, including starting a U-pick blueberry operation.
  • In Jackson County, George Frady will turn his Christmas tree farm into a choose-and-cut establishment.
  • In Jackson County, Doug and Renee Lambrecht, owners of Bearpen Farm, will expand their production of wasabi, selling to nationwide natural grocers and to individuals through their website.
  • In Swain County, Kelley Penn and Quinton Ellison, owners of Balltown Bee Farm, are raising naturally mite resistant honeybees to sell to beekeepers in the local area.
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