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2018 Tours of Homesteads

5 Tours of Homesteads in Western NC

Thanks for our 2017-2018 AmeriCorps Service Member, Katie Schroeder, Organic Growers School was able to offer a new series of Homestead Tours showcasing how home-growers in Western North Carolina (WNC) are transforming their land into thriving, productive, and resilient ecosystems. Our goal was to inspire folks to embark on their own homesteading journey by providing an opportunity to tour a working homestead. Further, we also hope to keep expanding the supportive network of growers in WNC.

Due to funding cuts to AmeriCorps Project Conserve, we’re not able to continue with Homestead Tours in the future.

February Tour

Where: Full Circle Family Farm, Black Mountain, NC

When: Sunday, February 25, 2018 from 2–5 PM

Cost: $5

Attendance limited to 18 people.

About the Farmstead

Leon Birstein has been growing for more than 20 years on Full Circle Family Farm. Located on 20 acres near Black Mountain, NC, the farmstead features high tunnels, extensive cover-cropping, large-scale composting systems, grey water ponds, and other non-intensive and creative methods. Leon also produces shitake mushrooms, baby ginger, turmeric, sweet potatoes, and brassicas for market sale, and his home and garden function entirely via off-grid power.

April Tour

Where: Cedar Spring Farm, West Asheville, NC

When: Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 2–5 PM

Cost: $5

Attendance limited to 18 people.

About Cedar Spring Farm

Kelly Lockamy owns Cedar Spring Farm in West Asheville where she grows a variety of medicinal herbs and perennial vegetables, cultivates mushrooms, raises chickens, keeps bees, and is experimenting with flower production. Kelly uses permaculture design principles in her gardens and spring-fed pond, and her home features a solar shower and indoor composting toilet. Kelly has also hosted WWOOF interns for the last three years, and she welcomes AirBnB guests to stay in a renovated apartment adjacent to her home.

May Tour

Where: Green Heart Gardens, Candler, NC

When: Sunday, May 20, 2018 from 2–5 PM

Cost: $5

Attendance limited to 18 people.

About Green Heart Gardens

Lorri Bura is a co-owner of the USDA Organic-certified farm Green Heart Gardens, a member of the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farming Coalition, and an educator and host to WWOOF interns and homeless veterans. With 20 acres of land, Lorri is venturing into woodland farming and continuously expanding the number of crops she grows each season. The majority of work at Green Heart Gardens is done by hand, and Lorri sources most of her fertilizer, mulch, and water on the property. Her farm “apothecary” is a center for healing and education, and her medicinal herbs can be found in stores around Asheville.  

June Tour

Where: Homestead of Mark Dempsey, Swannanoa, NC

When: Sunday, June 10, 2018 from 2–5 PM

Cost: $5

Attendance limited to 18 people.

About Mark’s Homestead

Mark Dempsey is the Farm Services Coordinator with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Alliance, as well as an avid grain grower, equipment builder, and research enthusiast. On his property in Swannanoa, Mark experiments with a variety of cover-crop grains using no-till farming systems and modest equipment. Mark will explain the ins and outs of growing grain crops and demonstrate techniques for processing grains for eating and storing.

July Tour

Where: Homestead of Chris Smith, Leicester, NC

When: Sunday, July 15, 2018 from 2–5 PM

Cost: $5

Attendance limited to 18 people.

About Chris’ Homestead

Chris Smith, a seed saver with Sow True Seed, is exploring myriad food production systems on two-thirds of an acre in Leicester, including aquaculture, raised bed gardens, hoop houses, mushrooms, poultry, seed saving. Bit by bit in their spare time, Chris and his wife transformed their bare property into a vibrant and productive homestead in just two-and-a-half years. Chris’ seed-saving is an integral component of his perennial-based garden which offers many ecological benefits and greater climate resiliency. 

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Katie, Program and Outreach Coordinator, at


Author: Agatha

Agatha Hannah holds a degree in Environmental Studies — Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College. She has more than twenty years of experience working with non-profits focused on farmer education and sustainable and regenerative agriculture at the local and national levels. As a farmer, mother, and community activist with an off-grid homestead in Floyd, Virginia, Agatha has a deep commitment to cultivating a vibrant agriculture system based on thriving family farms.

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