This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

As we approach the holiday season, it’s a good time to think about where that turkey, pork, or beef comes from that will round out our family meals. We are fortunate to live in a region where good soil, climate and plentiful water have allowed livestock farmers to thrive for hundreds of years. Farming is a tradition here, but it has continued to change along with our food systems and markets.

Currently in the US, over 95% of our meat comes from factory farms. It hasn’t always been this way. Small family farms of the past were much more diverse, often growing their own vegetables as well as raising cows, pigs and chickens for their own needs and to supply the local markets. The money earned by local farmers stays in the local economy. They are involved in and invest in local communities.

These farmers also know that taking care of the land and water will ensure the survival of their farms. They use best management practices like fencing livestock out of streams, maintaining vegetative buffers, rotational grazing and following a waste management plan to manage, recycle and utilize manure and nutrients effectively. These practices make for happier, healthier animals and protect our environment. As one local farmer, Colfax Creek Farm, puts it, “The goals of creating a better food system, regenerating the land and soils that we farm, and reviving rural communities around us all drive us to always become better farmers and stewards of our lands and animals.”

We are seeing a revival of small sustainable farms, and these farms deserve our support. Most local grocery stores do not carry local meat products, unfortunately. Luckily we have farmers markets, and often the farmers sell directly from their farms. Buying products directly from farmers is a great opportunity to visit a farm and get to know the people who feed us. Additionally, we can support local farmers by eating at local restaurants like Newgrass Brewing Company, which not only source local fruits, grains, and herbs for beer ingredients, but also buy meats from local producers. Roger Holland, owner at Newgrass, says, “It is important to us to support our local farmers as much as possible, and between our kitchen and our brewing operation we are in a unique position to do just that. The local products not only support our local farmers, but in most cases provide a superior product that is reflected in our food and beer quality. We are all in this together and it is critical that we show our support for one another through our actions and decisions.”

Below is a map that our Clean Water Teams have created to help you find environmentally-conscious farmers in your watershed.

Sustainable farming best practices

We’re proud to work with farmers who strive to keep our rivers clean. North Carolina’s Riverkeepers are interested in supporting your sustainability efforts and hearing how you’re making your farm more sustainable.

Vegetative buffers. Buffers with vegetation at least 3-4 inches tall along surface waters and wellheads of no less than 25 feet. Buffers should slow the movement of water over the soil or field surface and stop soil particle and nutrient movement.

Stream protection/fencing and stream restoration. Livestock should be fenced out of streams, ditches and ponds that drain to streams. Restore banks or edges of streams that have been degraded by grazing animals, and improve degraded stream crossings and watering points.

Runoff capture and recycling. Runoff from farm yards or fields should be captured and recycled on the farm.

Feed, forage, barnyard manure and agri-chemical storage and handling. Feeds, forages, fertilizers, and stored manures should be covered and protected from precipitation, runoff and flooding.

Minimize nutrient imports. Optimize nutrient cycling and limit feed imports to the farm. Calculate your farm’s nutrient budget.

Pasturing or loose-housed deep-bedded barns. Livestock, cattle, swine and/or poultry are on pastures with live/growing vegetation or are loose-housed at low density in a roofed structure or barn with bedding to absorb nutrients and facilitate composting.

Managed or “holistic” grazing. Pasture management should maintain 3-4 inches or taller of vegetative cover over more than 95 percent of the pasture area at any time. Avoid overgrazing.

Manure management plan. Farms should have, and follow, a waste management plan to manage, recycle and utilize manure and nutrients effectively, and should never exceed recommended NCDA agronomic rates for any nutrient.

Manure spreading/dispersal. Accumulated manure, as well as bedding or compound fertilizers, should be applied to growing vegetation without exceeding recommended soil levels for nitrogen and phosphorus. Waste should not be spread within 48 hours of precipitation.

Avoid erosion. Use no-till, minimal-till, or reduced or strip tillage to reduce erosion and build organic soil matter, water retention and drainage.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell Identifies Harmful Algal Bloom in Moss Lake

Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell Identifies Harmful Algal Bloom in Moss Lake

Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell Identifies Harmful Algal Bloom in Moss Lake

We don’t know if the algal blooms are recurring, but there was a confirmed harmful algal bloom in Moss Lake earlier this summer.


Your Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, goes out each week to test recreational waters in the Broad River Watershed for bacterial pollution. While sampling at Moss Lake on June 3, David noticed that the water was very green and cloudy, so he also tested the water with a YSI meter that measures temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH and turbidity (a measure of cloudiness).  “I got really high dissolved oxygen and pH readings, so I did some research and found that this could be an indicator of an algal bloom.”

Pictured: Moss Lake during the algal bloom (left) compared to normal water conditions (right).


Algal blooms, which form due to an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, can release toxins that are linked to human illnesses and have even been shown to cause death in livestock and dogs.

The following Monday, David received a call from a Moss Lake resident who had noticed many dead fish in the water. David notified the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and they sent a staff member out on June 10 to take water samples in and above the lake. The report came back confirming an algal bloom, and it was named a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) because of the presence of cyanobacteria that “may produce cyanotoxins.” A second report confirmed the presence of a cyanotoxin called microcystins, which can cause illness in humans and animals that come into contact with water affected by a bloom. The concentration of the toxin was only 0.4 micrograms per Liter (ug/L) – well under the EPA’s recommended safe level for microcystins of 8 ug/L. Keep in mind, however, that the samples were taken by DEQ seven days after the algae were first noticed, so much of the algae had died off by then. In talking to that same resident after these reports came out, David also learned that he had noticed similar conditions at least twice since then, and once with a very foul odor.  

As algal blooms become more and more common due to rising temperatures and an increase of nutrients in our waters, Riverkeepers across the state believe more study and analysis of algal blooms in Moss Lake and elsewhere must be done. We would like for the residents at Moss Lake to take more of a lead in identifying and reporting possible algal blooms. If the water turns really green, they should contact DEQ immediately. The “life cycle” of algal blooms can be really quick –as short as a couple of days – so quick reporting is important.

Some of the residents around the lake do not want the bad publicity that would come with raising awareness to this potentially dangerous problem. However, if we don’t first acknowledge that there may be a problem, then there will be little effort towards determining the root causes of the issue and improving the water quality in Moss Lake and other water bodies. “I would ask the Moss Lake area residents this,” David says. “What do you want your lake to look like in 10 to 20 years?  What will you do to help realize that vision?”

 

To learn more about algal blooms, visit the NCDEQ page here or the FAQ page from the NC Division of Water Resources here.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

DEQ: It’s Time to Modernize NC’s Pollution Spill Notification System

DEQ: It’s Time to Modernize NC’s Pollution Spill Notification System

Join North Carolina’s Riverkeepers in calling on state regulators to modernize its public notification system.

Millions of people across North Carolina take to our beaches, rivers and lakes to cool off, swim, paddle, and fish, but most are unaware that nearly 16 million gallons of untreated sewage has spilled into our waterways during a two and a half month period (May 17 to July 30) according to data collected by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

North Carolina desperately needs to update its public spill notification system. Current state law requires operators of wastewater collection and treatment systems to notify DEQ of spills of over 1,000 gallons into surface waters and to send a press release to local media within 24 hours. For spills of over 15,000 gallons, operators are required to place a notice in the newspapers of counties impacted by the spill within 10 days (NCGS 143-215.1C). Spills of other pollutants have similar reporting requirements to DEQ.

North Carolina should not be depending on ads in print newspapers to get the word out about dangerous spills. Newspapers are not mandated to run the press releases, and many local newspapers are only published in print on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, which is not frequent enough to warn river users of water quality problems in a timely manner.

The public has the right to know about major pollution spills that impact our waterways as soon as possible, and through the technology the public uses today. Join North Carolina’s Riverkeepers in calling for a better, more modern system that would:

  • Publish spill data to an online database and interactive map and on agency social media channels
  • Send email and text alerts to interested parties.
  • Allow the public to sign up to receive these alerts for the watersheds that they are interested in.

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Our clean water is in danger. In the midst of the pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has snuck in proposed amendments to the Clean Water Act that would have detrimental effects on public health, natural systems, and the economy. These amendments would change the definition of “waters of the United States” to mean fewer wetlands and bodies of water would be under federal protection. The amendments could easily go unnoticed because they have been named the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” despite these rules doing anything but protecting our water.

The culture of Western North Carolina is intertwined with water, with recreation and local economies both heavily reliant on water-based activities. MountainTrue’s Clean Water Team works hard to monitor and improve the quality of water in the region, but this rule would create a huge challenge for our daily work.

 

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

We have compiled this map of farms in our region that feed us without threatening rivers, lakes and streams. The inventory at these farms varies, but they all have one thing in common: They’re going the extra mile to do things the right way.


Farms are color-coded by watershed. Click the pinpoints on the map to view a description of each farm.
To see the farms listed by watershed, click the icon on the top left of the map or scroll below.

Many small farms in Western North Carolina have lost business due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, large-scale meat operations in North Carolina are one of the leading contributors to water pollution in the state. Buying from sustainable local farms now is a way to not only feed your family but to protect our fragile environment.

Many farmers are still happy to have people come out to their farms. Check their websites or Facebook pages, because these small farms may request that you order over the phone or online to arrange pick-up. If you aren’t able to buy directly from a farmer, be sure to look for their products at farmer’s markets and grocery stores in your neighborhood, as many supply to local distributors. We have not included farms that are currently closed to the public.

To build our impact, sign the pledge to support sustainable farms below!

 

 

Sustainable Farms List

Broad Watershed

  • Belflower Farm
  • Beam Family Farms
  • Colfax Creek Farm
  • Greene Family Farm
  • Hardscrabble Hollow Farm
  • Martins’ Charolais Farm
  • Piedmont Homestead
  • Proffitt Family Cattle Company
  • A Way of Life Farm

French Broad Watershed

  • Cold Mountain Angus Beef
  • Creekside Farm at Walnut Cove
  • Farmhouse Beed
  • Frog Holler Organiks
  • Gaining Ground Farm
  • Hickory Nut Gap Farm
  • Hominy Valley Farms
  • Leatherwood Family Farm
  • Lenoir’s Creek Beef and Bakery
  • Sunburst Trout Farms®
  • Shady Brook Farm
  • Smoky Mountain Mangalista
  • Sunburst Beef LLC
  • Ten Acre Garden

Green River Watershed

  • Looking Glass Creamery
  • Once Upon a Cow Micro Dairy
  • San Felipe Farm
  • Sunny Creek Farms
  • Bearded Birds Farm

Hiwassee River Watershed

  • 7M Family Farms, LLC
  • Brothers on Farms
  • SMM Farms
  • Walnut Hollow Ranch – Premium Black Angus Beef

Upper Tennessee River Watershed

  • 4 Corners Ranch

Little Tennessee River Watershed

  • Breedlove Family Farms
  • Carringer Farms
  • Darnell Farms
  • Deal Family Farm
  • Gnome Mountain Farm
  • J.W. Mitchell Farm
  • JAAR Farms
  • Pine Row Farm
  • Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese

Watauga River Watershed

  • A Bushel and a Peck Farm
  • Against the Grain Farm
  • Beach Farm and Nursery
  • Creeksong Farm
  • Daffodil Spring Farm
  • Faith Mountain Farm
  • Fire from the Mountain
  • New Life Farm
  • North Fork Farm
  • Shipley Farms Signature Beef
  • Sunshine Cove
  • Heritage Homestead Farm

Yadkin Watershed

  • Asa Acres
  • Aunt Bessie’s Natural Farm

 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are the headwaters of seven major river systems, providing drinking water for millions of people in four southeastern states and wildlife habitat for a bewildering array of native species.

Unfortunately, the current draft plan is inadequate in a few very important ways when it comes to water quality protections and we need you to speak up. The deadline for public comments is June 29 and this is our last significant chance to have our say. You can comment more than once.

The draft plan proposes less stream protection for the Nantahala-Pisgah than other Southern Appalachian National Forests such as the Chattahoochee, the Cherokee, and the Jefferson. While the 100-foot buffer on perennial streams is good, the draft plan only affords intermittent streams a 15-foot buffer, and provides no protection at all for ephemeral streams — the type of streams that make up the very beginning of the watershed networks we depend on.

Compare this to Cherokee National Forest, across the border in Tennessee, which has a default riparian buffer of 100 feet on perennial streams, 50 feet on intermittent streams and 25 feet on ephemeral streams. Cherokee National Forest also allows buffers to be increased to 264 feet in areas with steeper slopes.

These buffers prevent streams from being degraded, provide shade, and reduce sediment pollution and habitat damage due to timber harvesting, road building and other development. When these protective buffers are removed, water temperatures increase and sediment makes its way into streams and rivers suffocating aquatic habitats — reducing populations of species such as trout, freshwater mussels and hellbenders.

Learn More About Our Forest Waters

On April 28, MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director Callie Moore hosted a live webinar to explore water quality issues in the draft management plan.

Water quality protections for the Nantahala and Pisgah should meet or exceed the water quality protections given for other Southern Appalachian National Forests so that our forest streams are protected from road building, skid trails, log loading areas, waste disposal and other ground disturbing activities.

Additionally, watersheds classified by the state as Outstanding Resource Waters are determined to have excellent water quality and exceptional ecological or recreational significance. There are nine ORW watersheds within Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests and they should be named and protected in the plan.

This Forest Management Plan will set priorities and protections for the 1,200 miles of streams and rivers of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for the next 15-20 years, and this is our last significant chance to make our voices heard.

Please take action for clean water today. 

Comment below or checkout our our Forest Plan Resource page for our full analysis of the entire Draft Forest Management Plan.

 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.