A variety of organizations offer technical assistance, funding, and other resources to assist with efforts to preserve and promote the region’s agricultural heritage.
US Department of Agriculture
Several agencies and offices of the US Department of Agriculture offer technical assistance and other resources for preservation and conservation, alternative enterprises and agritourism.
• Forest Service – The US Forest Service administers programs for applying sound conservation and utilization practices to natural resources of the national forests and national grasslands, for promoting these practices on all forest lands through cooperation with states and private landowners and for carrying out extensive forest and range research.
• National Resources Conservation Service – NRCS is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The agency emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation; technical assistance; partnerships; incentive-based programs; and cooperative problem solving at the community level. NRCS has published online an extensive resource manual on alternative farm enterprises and agritourism.
• Rural Development – USDA Rural Development works to increase rural residents’ economic opportunities and improve their quality of life. Rural Development forges partnerships with rural communities, funding projects that bring housing, community facilities, utilities and other services. It also provides technical assistance and financial backing for rural businesses and cooperatives to create quality jobs in rural areas.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The website for the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offers information about hundreds of diverse agriculture-related initiatives and services, including:
• North Carolina Farm Fresh – A website that provides information on the availability of fresh produce and other farm products and services in North Carolina.
• The North Carolina Specialty Crops Program – A program that works to identify and develop new agricultural products, to increase the profitability of agriculture, and to reduce production and marketing risks to the grower. This program includes growing medicinal herbs for commerce.
• Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund
• Goodness Grows in North Carolina – An identification and promotional program designed to heighten awareness about North Carolina agriculture and boost sales by helping consumers, retailers and wholesalers to easily identify top-quality products that are grown, processed or manufactured in the state.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension
North Carolina Cooperative Extension offers the resources and expertise of NC State University and NC A&T State University and has offices in every county and on the Cherokee Qualla Boundary.
North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association (NCANA)
The association enables farmers to share best practices in agritourism and network with peers.
North Carolina Arboretum
The NC Arboretum is part of the University of North Carolina system and focuses on education, economic development, research, conservation and garden demonstration with respect to landscape, architecture and plant sciences.
North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, Inc.
The Center works to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. Its Agricultural Advancement Consortium promotes the benefits of a strong farm sector and explores new ways to increase farm profitability.
North Carolina State University – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
The University offers degree programs in many agriculture-related fields, as well as extension services and research programs.
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)
This nonprofit organization supports farmers and rural communities in the mountains of Western North Carolina and the southern Appalachians by providing education, mentoring, promotion, web resources and community and policy development.
Blue Ridge Farm Direct Market Association
The Association provides information for consumers wishing to buy apples directly from the grower.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures
An initiative of Advantage West Economic Development Group and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Blue Ridge Food Ventures is a food processing facility in which entrepreneurs pay hourly rates for use of a commercial kitchen and monthly charges for cooler or dry storage and the use of specific equipment.
Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust
The Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust is a nonprofit land trust serving a seven-county area of Western North Carolina. Its mission is to preserve rural communities and culture in northwestern North Carolina through the preservation of the land resource upon which they depend.
The Botanical Gardens at Asheville
An independent nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
HandMade in America
HandMade in America offers expertise and training in agritourism development and has published a how-to manual for developing and marketing agritourism attractions.
Local Food Guide
A directory of Western North Carolina and southern Appalachian family farms, Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSA’s), farmers’ tailgate markets, grocers, restaurants, caterers and bakers, u-pick farms, apple orchards and bed & breakfasts which sell locally grown farm products.
North Carolina Christmas Tree Association
The association is dedicated to the success of the Christmas Tree Industry by providing ethical, professional and visionary leadership. Its website lists Christmas tree wholesalers, choose & cut Christmas tree farms and Christmas tree growers that offer mail order sales.
North Carolina Winegrowers Association
Incorporated in the state of North Carolina as a nonprofit, the goal of the North Carolina Winegrower’s Association is to help its members grow better grapes, make better wine and market the final product more effectively.
Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association
Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association is dedicated to helping people earn income through growing, collecting, processing and marketing Appalachian native plants; and to preserving Appalachian native plants for future generations.