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Farm Heritage Trail Program to be held in Leicester

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By Dasha Morgan- A glimpse into the rural farming past and the farming future in this area will be presented this Saturday. The rural landscape in Western North Carolina has been changing dramatically, so learning more about the farming heritage should be interesting and educational. The Preservation Society of Asheville Buncombe County is sponsoring this program. Terri Wells of the Buncombe County Agriculture advisory Board and Ariel Zijp, Farmland Conservation Coordinator for Buncombe County Soil and Water, are making a presentation from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon on Saturday, July 15th at the Sandy Mush Community Center, 19 School Road, Leicester, NC. They will speak about the Farm Heritage Trail: A Preservation Landscape. There is no fee, but a donation ($10.00 suggested) will help support local preservation.

The Farm Heritage Trail invites all to enjoy their Trail after the talk and visit farms stops along the way. The Farm Heritage Trail is a scenic driving and cycling route through the rural agricultural communities of Alexander, Leicester, Newfound and Sandy Mush in northwest Buncombe County. The public is welcome to travel the public roads of this trail and enjoy viewing the conserved family farms, with designated signage, that are along the route. The entire route is a leisurely two hour drive while enjoying a few stops along the way. Details and a map of the Trail, where stops on the way can be made, can be found at

Wells is a 9th generation Sandy Mush farmer at Bee Branch Farm with her husband, Glenn Ratcliff, chemistry instructor at AB Tech. Both are dedicated farm conservationists, their family giving 600 acres of their family farm in 2009 with a permanent easement to the Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. More on what is involved with Property Easement can be found at or by speaking with Jack Thomson, director of PSABC.

Ariel Zjip is a Carrabus County native with a degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry from Warren William College. She resides with her husband in Mars Hill on a 2-acre homestead growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers, raising chickens, rabbits and honeybees. They are also known for hosting farm dinners and cooking workshops.

Jack Thomson, the PSABC Director, can be contacted if there are any questions at (828) 254-2343 or can be emailed at These Preservation Society programs encourage education toward conserving the farm heritage properties and history of how our “mountain farming landscape has shaped our community from the late 18th century to the present.”

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