21 Century Rural Mountain Farming: A Vision of Survival

View from mountain top of Sycamore Hill Farm and Tuckasegee River Valley

✔︎ Stewardship

✔︎ Quality of Life

✔︎ Farm-to-Table

✔︎ New Agricultural Products

✔︎ Re-purposed Land

✔︎ Consulting

Stewardship

Why should rural mountain farms be reclaimed, restored, and preserved?

It’s the right thing to do!

The restoration of rural mountain farms is an issue of stewardship to both the land and the people. More than 90% of farms in the U.S. are classified as small with limited gross farm income.  Rural mountain farms are particularly vanishing from the landscape from both a lack of vision and resourcefulness.  These farms, most of which are family-owned and operated, confront considerable challenges from increased movement into cities, an aging population, farm consolidation, and changing weather patterns.

It’s better for Mother Earth!

We cannot continue to poison and pollute the land upon which we live and depend.  We must stop with herbicides, fertilizers, and the like . . . returning to methods and processes that use the earth’s  natural life cycle  for all living things working in harmony. Small family farms are vital to our well-being as a nation and support the sustainability of rural farm economies.  Additionally, small family farms:

  • Protect and enhance natural resources and our environment;
  • Provide a nursery for the development of new enterprises and marketing systems;
  • Maintain rural populations across the nation.

It is healthier for us!

Products grown with no chemicals are safer for our bodies and promote our well-being especially the well-being of our children and grandchildren.  Rural Mountain farms were organic entities long before chemicals became a serious issue. 

Quality of Life

It is possible for rural farming families to prosper

There is nothing quite like living on a farm: the beauty of the land; the connection to nature; the pleasure in growing things; the satisfaction at the end of a long day of hard work!

There is much reward and abundance in farm life. Our parents raised us to farm life, and growing up we all participated in the work of the farm: milking the cows before sunrise; bringing in a tobacco harvest; weeding in the fields. We understood the reward and abundance, and we weren't blind to the amount of work needed to restore our family farms to their former glory.

Upon retirement and return to this rural, mountain area in 2015 we started by organizing an operations business under an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) with a DBA (Doing Business As).  We then moved forward reclaiming our parents’ legacy on the land my mother named, Hilltop Farm (now renamed, Sycamore Hill Farm) and Chris Burrell Christmas Tree Farm (now renamed, Sandy Gap Farm). Read more about our family farming history here.

In this journey, our farms along with those of others, must be helped to continue their rich history in rural mountain farming. No one said it would be easy but at Sycamore Hill Farm and Sandy Gap Farm we have “come out of the woods” in reclaiming, renovating, and re-structuring for profit, success, and the continuity of our rural Carolina mountain farms!  It’s been a long four years but other rural mountain farm families can follow our lead and use our thinking and models in preserving their rural mountain farms thus continuing to provide for themselves and their families  a wonderful way of life . . .  successfully!

Farm to Table

Know your farmer...know your food

The upsurge in demand for organic food as well as the shop local and small movements are keys to environmentally conscious farming. In today's industrial food economy, consumers are too far removed from their food production. We believe in the farm to table (or pasture to plate) model where consumers know their farmers, trust them, and understand how their food is grown, raised, and produced.

Organic farming is not new. Farmers of yester-year did not use hormones, insect sprays, and chemicals when growing their crops or in the raising of animals for meet, milk, or eggs. We need to re-evaluate our modern farming practices to return to healthier and more wholesome methods.

We can all help by purchasing our foods and supplies from local Saturday Markets, community garden markets, produce stands owned and operated by farmers selling their products, and through farm to table methods.  Each of these contributes significantly to a more successful economy for our mountain farmers.

New Agricultural Products

How can mountain farms thrive and prosper in the 21st century?

Enough with the chemicals! Enough with the hormones! Enough with the antibiotics! Enough! Enough!

Our very future depends on a change in our food economy!  Educated consumers and those seeking a healthier lifestyle understand that our food products must return to more natural or organic and sustainable methods of production. Organic farming is not new rather it is a return to earlier farming methods that used the natural cycle to grow vegetables and raise animals for meat. 

The new demand for products that are organic -- grass fed -- natural -- antibiotic free -- etc. is just what rural mountain farms need once again thrive and prosper in the 21st century.

Rural farms in the mountains of the Carolinas can contribute to a healthier lifestyle today raising produce and meat organically, hormone and antibiotic free, and in an open environment!

Agricultural Meat Products

Farmers from yester-year did not use hormones, insect sprays, chemicals and the like in growing their produce or in the raising and sale of their beef, pork, lamb, rabbits, chickens, or goats.  There was no worry about what we ate or what it contained. Now E-Coli out breaks, antibiotic resistance, heart disease, and obesity are very real health problems facing our society by and large due to our industrial food economy. We are what we eat!

Short-Term Quick Cash Turnaround Crops

With pristine water and land resources, our farms are exploring the following cash, quick turn-around crops such as: 

  • Pumpkins
  • Bamboo
  • Industrial Hemp
  • Vegetable Crops
  • Farm-to-Table Gardening Products and Services
  • Winter Hay and Dried Forage

Sustainable Longer-Term Crops

Christmas Trees/Chose and Cut operations, quantity Christmas trees at wholesale, Frazier Fir trees for landscaping, and production, sales of dried winter hay can each can provide sustainable economics on today’s mountain farms.  

Re-purposed Land

Tourism and affordable, quality housing

Rentals

Modest rentals located on rural farms are a viable cash flow venture inaddition to the agricultural farming component.  Rentals can be profitable in the long run when designed and built for profit!  Often certain tracts of farm land are not suitable for cultivation, and rental housing can be a profitable usage of those areas. People need housing in rural mountain communities and this strategy also provides for a number of societal needs.  

We have invested in five rental housing units as part of our farm revitalization efforts, creating a reliable and steady cash flow for the farm.

Creative Use

Another creative use for non-cultivated farm land is via the hospitality and tourism sector in the form of event venues, vacation rentals, bed & breakfasts, and camping areas for those who like to be off the beaten path.  Modest camping spaces can be placed on less usable farm grounds and provide a viable option for improving farm economics.  Many individuals like to experience rural living up close and personal.  Camping spaces are minimal investment income option for rural mountain farms and support diversity and connection to farm culture.   

Consulting Services

Talk with someone who has been there!

BMB Farm Management and Consulting, DBA is available for consultative services to rural farmers!  Traveling far distances for rural farmers to get the help they need is difficult.  We are local folks, ready to help our fellow rural mountain farmers right from the front porch!

It is overwhelming when farmers face income shortage, economic downturns, and all the factors that affect profitability and livelihood.  We want to assist rural mountain farmers to create a vision for their farm(s) and assist them from our base of integrity and stewardship to this land in these mountains.  The challenge and opportunity lie before us . . . .  to seek help, to dream dreams, to plan and seek funding for the continuance of a way of life that can be profitable and sustainable.

Our Expertise Includes:

Farm Infrastructures and Maintenance Needs

We have the experience to help rural mountain farmers in planning, designing, and installing farm infrastructures such as: 

  • Cattle Fencing, Corner Design, Bracing, and Gating
  • Grass Improvement, Production and Rotational Grazing
  • Weed and Pest Controls
  • Equipment needs and Maintenance
  • Barn Construction, Design, and Repair
  • Rental housing on mountain farms,
  • Recreational spaces on mountain farms.

Cash Crop Farming: Grass Fed Cattle, Christmas Trees, Industrial Hemp

  • Christmas Tree Growth, Pruning, Pest Control
  • Farm & Field Workers
  • Industrial Hemp Licensing, Growth, Cloning, Harvesting
  • Raising Grass Fed Cattle
  • Marketing & Selling Cash Crops

Grant Applications, Writing & Compliance

Applying for grant funds or loans is a daunting task, but there are numerous State and National agricultural initiatives out there to help the rural mountain farmer. We at BMB Farm Management and Consulting, DBA have sought and received several grants and loans in the reclaiming of our rural mountain farms. Let us help you do the same!

Website Design & Social Media

Let's build your website together! Online media presence is an important component of marketing and selling your cash crops as well as connecting consumers to the source of their food. We are knowledgeable of site hosting, web design, and social media.

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Industrial hemp grown in Sandy Gap greenhouse