Barriers to Farming in WNC Research Project


Organic Growers School (OGS) first conducted this survey in 2015, and conducted a second round in 2019. The data we received from farmers directly led to new training and support programs reaching farmers across WNC. The creation of OGS’s Farm Beginnings Farmer Training course, which has now trained and graduated 50+ beginning farmers, is a prime example. It also led to the creation of the Appalachian Farm School in Jackson County, and professional development grants for farm businesses through the NC Rural Center. For the 2019 update, OGS teamed up with NCDA, Southwestern RC&D, and the Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D to update and release the survey again for an even broader impact on farming.

2015 Survey

In April and May 2015, we developed an online survey in collaboration with OGS staff, board, and farmer-led committee members. The survey was divided into three concentrations; access, knowledge/expertise and lifestyle/community. Even though it was during the busy spring season, we had over 150 farmers respond! Thank you!! We found we successfully reached those newer to farming, with 73% respondents farming 10 years or less, and 48% under the age of 39.

In addition to the on-line survey, we conducted one-on-one interviews with ten emerging & beginning farmers and held a focus group with 6 farmers in their 5th-10th year farming asking what they saw as the primary barriers to farming in WNC.


Executive Summary: Barriers to Farming in WNCexecu_summ_image Published August 2015


Barriers to Farmer in WNC Full Survey Reportsurvey_report_image96 pages — Published August 2015


Barriers to Farming in WNC Survey Report without Appendicessurvey_report_image 31 pages — Published August 2015

2019 Survey

This survey had a total of 233 respondents. Those responses were from 44 out of 100 counties in the state. Our highest responses were from Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Rutherford, Ashe, and Jackson counties.

Farming in North Carolina Survey 2019-2020survey_report_image5 pages — Published 2020

For questions, please contact our Director of Programs & Human Resources, Nicole DelCogliano, at

OGS Farmer Programs are made possible by our farmer network and our funding partners: Blooming Prairie Foundation, Community Foundation of WNC, CLIF Bar Family Foundation, Cornell Douglas Foundation, Harry Chapin Foundation, New Visions Foundation, Patagonia, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, UNFI Foundation, Walnut Cove Members Association, WNC Bridge Foundation, and USDA-NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Award #2021-70033-35717. Our Growth Partners (year-round program support) are: Carolina Farm Credit, Buchi,  Living Web Farms, and Gaia Herbs. Our Media Sponsors are WNCW, Asheville FM and Blue Ridge Public Radio.