|In the spring of 2006 we found property that was a prime development opportunity and was being looked at for such purposes. We were able to purchase this site, which was 7.5 acres with three houses, not in order to turn it into a subdivision, but rather a small urban farm that could service downtown Asheville. Keep in mind that this was at the peak of the Asheville real estate frenzy and prices had not yet begun to fall. However, we felt that it would be tragic to turn this once-prosperous farm into yet one more subdivision. |
Several years ago we began to notice a trend in development. In fact, it goes back much farther than that. The trend is consistently away from agriculture near urban centers. This has been both an economic trend as well as a societal one. Developers and speculators have been able to make a lot of money building condos or subdivisions on once-flourishing family farms. Most farmers sadly bid farewell to their legacies, but welcomed the financial relief as they struggled to make ends meet in an economy where food producers are hardly cherished. Cheap energy has made it easy to transport mass volumes of food from thousands of miles away, grown on ever-increasing corporate farms that have no connection to the people or places that will be the end users of their produce. Because of these issues we felt compelled to pay a little more in order to reclaim something that had once been a local farm and restore it to its original use.
With America's current fragile economy, we think that it is wise to invest in local agriculture. Cheap energy, something that most of us have taken for granted, is coming to an end. This affects everything from the price of a plane ticket to a loaf of bread. The sun of affordability is setting on the days of the 3,000-mile salad. Local farms must experience a renaissance if our local economies are to remain sustainable and our food is to remain affordable to a majority of people.
During the 2008 growing season at Gladheart Farms we began the large task bringing our vision into reality. We cleared two acres of land from trees, underbrush, and invasive species, old fences and large rocks. We purchased and erected a 24x48 greenhouse and equipped it with overhead irrigation, timers, liquid fertilizer injector, wood and forced air heat for propagation and winter production of greens. We also purchased and built three cold frames used for tomato production during the growing season to help prevent late blight and other diseases brought on by excessive moisture. We dug a well to use for agricultural irrigation, both for the greenhouse and drip irrigation in raised beds. We purchased basic necessary equipment to begin our farm production. Gladheart Farms also became USDA-certified organic, further underscoring our commitment to sustainable agricultural practices. The 2008 season saw success in wholesale and CSA (i.e., Community-Supported Agriculture) operations.
Where we can be found:
Asheville City South Market, Biltmore Park on Wednesdays from 2:00 – 6:00 pm.
Oakley Farmers Market, Oakley Methodist Church on Thursdays from 2:00 – 6:00 pm.
East Asheville Tailgate Market, Groce Methodist Church on Fridays from 3:00 – 6:00 pm
You can also visit our farm at 29 Lora Lane; Asheville, NC 28803