WNC Communities is dedicated to providing a unique forum for leaders in the mountain region of Western North Carolina to convene, collaborate and carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the economy of the agriculture sector. 




594 Brevard Road

Asheville, NC 28806

Office: 828 • 252 • 4783

Email:  info@wnccommunities.org



ASHEVILLE, NC    WNC Communities was selected by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in 2013 to implement a competitive grant program consistent with the requirements of the department and the TVA Settlement as authorized by the N.C. General Assembly.


WNC Communities created the TVA Ag & Forestry Fund to focus on projects in the agriculture and forestry sectors throughout 17 counties of Western North Carolina.


“The second year of the TVA Ag & Forestry Fund will provide 19 grants totaling $230,000 and leveraging over $580,000 of in-kind and matching funds,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The projects selected this year address a range of challenges and opportunities in our western counties.”


The TVA Ag & Forestry Fund is pleased to announce the following projects for 2014: 


Project: Pastureland Improvement & Herbicide Management

Area Served: Avery County

Recipient: Avery County SWCD

The Avery County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded $6,400 to purchase a weed wiper for rent to local farmers.  A weed wiper is a resourceful tool utilized to eliminate undesired species of weeds in a pasture or hayfield.  This equipment will provide many small, limited resource farmers in Avery County with an economical and environmentally effective method for controlling noxious weeds.


Project Title: Plasticulture Equipment

Area Served: Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson Counties

Recipient: Buncombe County Cooperative Extension

Buncombe County Cooperative Extension has been awarded $8,300 for plasticulture equipment to rent to small farms in Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson Counties.  With many farmers extending their markets to include larger wholesale buyers and institutions, the need for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certification is becoming evident.  Plasticulture lends itself to food safety practices, as it creates a physical barrier between the soil and the produce.  Soil contact is reduced, lowering the risk of potential contaminants to keep the produce cleaner. Cleaner produce requires less time to prepare for markets and packaging, resulting in lower labor costs and higher quality produce.  Plasticulture also supports a reduction of weed pressure, increased efficiency of nutrient applications, and extension of the growing season.  A longer growing season broadens the window of income-producing months. 

Project: Honeybee Loss Prevention

Area Served: Cherokee County

Recipient: Cherokee County Cooperative Extension

Cherokee County Cooperative Extension has received grant funds of $13,800 for a honeybee loss prevention project to minimize winter hive colony losses. Beekeepers in the western part of the United States have successfully reduced winter losses by placing hives in cold storage facilities.  This forces bees to remain in hibernation at a controlled temperature in an enclosed location which has had an impact on winter die off, as well as having an increased benefit of increased honey production.  The pilot project in Cherokee County will consist of the purchase of a 10’x12’x8’ walk-in cooler with special aeration and monitoring equipment to ensure the bees will not suffocate, but stay at a regulated temperature forcing hibernation.  This will decrease the chance of the hive leaving, as well as the risk of the hive coming out of hibernation too early in the case of an early spring warm-up followed by a hard freeze. 


Project: No-Till Grain Drill & Livestock Handling Chute

Area Served: Cherokee, Clay & Graham

Recipient: Cherokee County SWCD

The Cherokee County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded $15,000 to purchase a no-till grain drill and livestock handling chute for farmers and livestock producers in Cherokee, Clay and Graham Counties through a low-cost rental program. This equipment will assist farmers in accomplishing production practices, which may otherwise be impossible or too difficult.  The no-till grain drill assists in providing better soil cover, assuring increased forage production and less erosion.  The livestock handling chute will assist in management practices, such as dehorning, vaccination and castration to increase the quality of the herd.


Project Title: Graham County Pastureland Enhancement

Area Served: Graham, Clay & Cherokee Counties

Recipient: Graham  County SWCD

The Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District has received a grant of $11,500 to purchase smaller equipment for fencing and management to improve geographically challenged fields. The use of UTV and ATV sprayers in conjunction with divisional fences improves the utilization of pastures while providing water quality benefits by reducing nutrient runoff to streams and improving ground cover for reducing erosion.  Providing shared equipment appropriate to smaller fields and farmers is key to expanding agriculture and providing sustainability to the agriculture economy.


Project: Improving Technological Innovation of Forest Management Studies

Area Served: Regional Project benefiting Western North Carolina

Project Location: Haywood County

Recipient: Haywood Community College

Haywood Community College has been awarded a grant of $13,300 to purchase Forge hand-held GPS units with modern hardware and software to facilitate student’s learning experiences and opportunities seeking a two-year Forest Management Degree.  This equipment will advance the technological skills of the Forestry Technology students and assist them in staying current with advances in forest inventory and geospatial technology.  Students will use this technology throughout the curriculum, culminating with the collection of data needed for writing their capstone Forest Management Plans.


Project: Grass/Grain Drill

Area Served: Jackson County

Recipient: Jackson County SWCD

The Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded a grant of $15,000 for a grass drill to renovate pastures and hay fields to obtain a better stand of grass with less seed cost. Optimum stands of grass will reduce the amount of runoff to surface waters by reducing the rate of erosion from increased ground cover.  Recent modifications to grass drills make this piece of equipment an important tool for pasture and hay land management.


Project: Portable Tub, Alley & Chute System

Area Served: Macon County

Recipient: Macon County SWCD

The Macon County Soil & Water Conservation District has been given a grant of $15,000 for a portable tub, alley and chute system to be utilized to train vocational agriculture teachers, area producers and Extension Agents in low-stress techniques on treating cattle for parasites, appropriately administering vaccinations and general health practices for livestock. Training opportunities will include sessions on utilization of the equipment, education of youth in Future Farmers of America and 4-H who are interested in livestock production, on-farm demonstrations for producers and livestock production field days.


Project: No-Till Drill

Area Served: McDowell County

Recipient: McDowell County SWCD

The McDowell County Soil & Water Conservation District has been given a grant of $14,800 to purchase a no-till drill to rent to agricultural producers and land owners to utilize for planting row crops and silage as supplemental feed for beef cattle.  Using a no-till drill minimizes the impact conventional tillage has on soil properties, erosion and increases water quality.  


Project: Portable Cattle Handling Equipment

Area Served: Mitchell County

Recipient: Mitchell County Cooperative Extension

The Mitchell County Cooperative Extension has been awarded $10,000 to purchase portable cattle handling equipment for the increasing number of head being produced in Mitchell County.  This equipment will assist small cattle producers in maintaining the health of their herd, as well as implement practices such as dehorning, vaccinations and castration to increase the value per head.  As producers become more profitable their operations will become more sustainable and allow them to grow their herds to put more money in the local economy.


Project: Boom Sprayer & Trailer

Area Served: Mitchell & Yancey Counties

Recipient: Mitchell-Yancey County SWCDs

Mitchell and Yancey County Soil & Water Conservation Districts have been awarded a grant of $4,300 to purchase a boom sprayer and trailer for small farmers to be able to improve soil quality as well as increase agriculture production activity.  By having access to a boom sprayer, local farmers can better manage their farmland and pastures, therefore producing a greater crop yield.  Mountain native pastures can be rejuvenated by the removal of invasive species and unwanted vegetation.  In addition to the sprayer, a trailer will be available to ensure stable transport.


Project Title: High Tunnel Greenhouse

Area Served: Regional (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McDowell, Transylvania, Yancey)

Recipient: Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has been awarded $5,000 in grant funds to develop a high tunnel greenhouse for their Community Farm & Food: Beginning Farm Incubator project.  This is the first agricultural business incubator for beginning farmers with limited resources has been developed to help aspiring farmers become established, successful farmers.  The high tunnel greenhouse is an important piece of the overall project because it can expand the growing season and energy use is minimal. The high tunnel greenhouse will also serve as an educational component for diverse groups in the community.


Project: Rearing Adelgids to Test Firs & Hemlocks for Pest Resistance

Area Served:  Regional Project benefiting Western North Carolina

Recipient: Southwestern NC RC&D

Southwestern NC RC&D has been awarded $15,000 to help create a controlled facility to provide a convenient, reliable and high-quality supply of exotic adelgids to test various fir and hemlock seedlings for pest resistance. Two exotic insect pests, the balsam woolly adelgid and the hemlock woolly adelgid, are threatening the forest ecosystems of Western North Carolina. Previous grant funds have been used to support a new round of genetic testing and crossbreeding of firs and hemlocks with progress being made.  However, this work is hindered by the lack of a reliable source of adelgids to be placed on seedlings in order to accurately screen firs and hemlocks for resistance. The ability to have these adelgids will assist in developing firs and hemlocks that can thrive in the face of a vigorous adelgid attack, not just simply survive when exposed to weak or old adelgids collected from the field.  Having direct access will save resources and time currently spent on searching for adelgids in the forest to use for testing.


Project: Strengthening the Infrastructure for SAFF Farmers Markets

(Southern Appalachian Family Farms)

Area Served: Clay, Cherokee Graham Counties

Recipient: Southwestern NC RC&D

Southwestern NC RC&D has been awarded $7,800 to strengthen the infrastructure for Southern Appalachian Family Farms with the purchase of equipment trailers. Market managers at the Hayesville Farmers Market in Clay County and the Depot Farmers Market in Cherokee County are currently transporting equipment in private trucks and trailers. By the time the equipment for the market is loaded and unloaded twice each week, it adds two hours to the market day.  Securing two enclosed used construction equipment trailers for these markets will allow market leaders to more effectively use their time and energy.  


Project: Swain County Farmland Equipment Enhancement

Area Served: Swain County

Recipient: Swain County SWCD

The Swain County Soil & Water Conservation District has been awarded $15,000 for a no-till drill to provide a cost effective method of establishing crops and forage for Swain County farmers. The no-till seed/grains drill is a vital tool when utilized in pasture finishing systems.  This system is a combination forage system of cool and warm season grasses to allow for year-round grasses alleviating shortages.  The equipment also provides a higher quality of crop resulting in increased yields while reducing overall costs to the farmer. 


Project Title: Pastureland Improvement Grass Drill, Trailer & Fertilizer Spreader

Area Served: Transylvania County

Recipient: Transylvania County SWCD

Transylvania County Soil & Water Conservation District has received a grant of $15,000 for a grass drill, trailer and fertilizer spreader.  Over the past few years, extreme weather conditions have stressed agriculture fields.  As farmers continue to renovate their pastures and hayfields, a better stand of grass can be achieved with a grass drill creating less cost and less waste over using traditional broadcast methods. Optimum stands of grass reduce runoff to surface waters by reducing the rate of erosion from increased ground cover.


Project: Compost Facility Development

Area Served: Buncombe County and surrounding area

Recipient: Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College has received a grant of $15,000 for compost facility development to purchase a tractor to maximize the capacity and efficiency of a state-of-the-art composting facility on the campus.  This handling equipment is needed to process over 15 tons of livestock and farm waste a day, including produce waste from the WNC Farmers’ Market.  The overall project will help reduce nutrient, pathogen and water quality concerns resulting from placing food and animal waste in landfills. This composting project will support regional educational efforts to teach livestock producers and others the value of converting manure and food wastes to valuable compost. 


Project: Bagger for TRACTOR

(Toe River Aggregation Center Training Organization Regional)

Area Served: Yancey, Avery & Mitchell Counties

Recipient: Yancey County Government

Yancey County Government has been selected to receive a grant of $14,800 to assist in purchasing a semi-automatic bagger for root crops and apples. Root crops and apples are required to be bagged before delivery to stores and restaurants and this is currently being done manually. The purchase of a bagger will allow farmers who are a part of TRACTOR, a food hub center formed to serve farmers in the area, to be more efficient, saving time and money. 


Project: Averting a Fish health Crisis in WNC (Phase 2)

Area Served:  Regional Project benefiting Western North Carolina

Recipient: NCSU Department of Biology

The North Carolina State University's Department of Biology has been awarded $14,800 to continue the proactive effort in sampling trout from trout farms in Western North Carolina for the presence of Weissella sp, a pathogen that poses a significant threat to the rainbow trout aquaculture industry of North Carolina. The presence of Weissella sp was found and treated by vaccination on trout farms last year. The continuation of the project will allow NCSU to survey NC trout farms that were outside of the scope of the original project which was focused on Macon, Cherokee, Graham and Swain Counties.  Additional funding will also allow the continuation of sequence analyses and identification of bacteria isolated from fish during the survey, as well as efforts to re-sample fish from all farms previously found to be positive for the disease. The focus remains on vaccination as opposed to the use of antibiotics to control the disease to lessen potential for ecological impacts in receiving waters.