Sandy Mush

view-from-sandymush-sahcAt the foot of the Newfound Mountains just northwest of Asheville lies the rural community of Sandy Mush, a two-hundred year old locally based agricultural center. Known for vegetable production, Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) farms, and ridge-top balds surrounding fertile farming valleys, Sandy Mush farmers supply the local community, Asheville restaurants, and residents throughout the region with produce and goods farmed on the picturesque valley floors and hillsides.

Grassroots Conservation at Work

Sandy Mush is a textbook example of grassroots conservation at work; after a few farmers put conservation easements on their farmland in the 1990’s, the community rallied into action. Today, over fifteen Sandy Mush large-scale property landowners have protected their land, totaling more than 6,000 acres of conserved property. Additionally, the Buncombe County Land Conservation Advisory Board has identified Sandy Mush as a conservation priority area. The County has committed millions of dollars for Sandy Mush protection. Nevertheless, each year sprawling development from Asheville crawls closer towards this rural farming community. The race is on to protect more of this fertile farmland valley for food supply, scenic value, and cultural heritage before housing developments replace working lands.

Biological Diversity

The Sandy Mush stretch is an important animal habitat for black bear, coyote, wild turkey, bobcat, white-tailed deer and ruffed grouse. The area is also home to hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), piratebush (Buckleya distichophylla), and Carolina saxifrage (Saxifrage caroliniana), all federal species of concern, listed in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

Cultural Heritage

Farming families who settled in Sandy Mush nine generations ago are partnering with their local land trust to ensure that their land will be worked and enjoyed by future generations.

Economic Significance

As oil and food transportation prices climb, locally grown agriculture is stepping into a critical food supply and economic role. Strategically conserving viable agricultural lands surrounding metropolitan areas not only safeguards local food resources, but also protects the area’s tourism economy. The traditional Southern Appalachian rural landscape is an American icon, attracting visitors from across the country and globe.

Sandy Mush, located in the Newfound Mountains in the northwest corner of Buncombe County, is a farmland preservation priority for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy Farmland Program. Since 1995, SAHC has pursued a proactive strategy to protect the Newfound Mountains/Sandy Mush area through acquisition of conservation easements and land according to a long-term conservation plan. The North Carolina State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and other data sources are being used to set priorities for SAHC’s land and habitat protection program.

Leave Your Legacy

There are few ways that you can leave a greater legacy than through land conservation. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to preserve the magnificent landscape of the Sandy Mush farming community. Each donation brings us one step closer to conserving this food production resource and cultural gem for our great-grandchildren and beyond.

Land Trusts Serving the Sandy Mush Farming Community

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
34 Wall St., Suite 502, Asheville, NC 28801