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GOAL: $2,800 The Mountain is expanding outreach and nature programs for children, youth and adults, focusing on regenerative agriculture, native plant life and pollinator habitat. This project involves the conversion of an existing stable to create a Living Learning Laboratory classroom, storage and work area, and farm office space.
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People love The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center and its Many Hands Peace Farm!

And, we want even more people of all ages to experience what our unique Western North Carolina mountain environment has to offer. With your support of this innovative project, you can help us realize our vision of creating dynamic, experiential education center–our new Living Learning Laboratory. Perhaps you have been to The Mountain, recently or in the past, as a camper, program participant, retreat guest, volunteer or day visitor. If you have never been to The Mountain, we hope this exciting new project will motivate you to come and experience it for yourself.

What:  The Living Learning Laboratory space will be the activity hub, resource center, and indoor work area for our Many Hands Peace Farm and established Farm Apprenticeship Program. This increased space will enable us to expand our educational programs for area school students and community groups, summer campers, retreat guests, and Unitarian Universalists from around the Southern Region.

The Living Learning Laboratory will be an organized educational space designed to be accessible, interactive, and inspiring for kids and adults alike. It will serve many functions: a demonstration space for examples of sustainable agro-ecology, a processing and storage station for produce and herbal products, farm stand, mushroom production, library, and classroom. This space will be the hub for our growing array of farm, wildcrafting, and edible forage tours, summer camp  and local schools programming, and community workshop offerings. It will also house a year-round office space for the Farm Managers, seasonal farm apprentices, and volunteers.

This new facility will provide the necessary infrastructure to accomplish the following objectives: 

  • Educate 250+ summer campers each year with positive ecological solutions to real-world problems.
  • Increase gourmet and medicinal cultivated mushroom production at least two-fold.
  • Wash and process 100% of our harvests on the farm adhering to GAP standards.
  • Sell produce and herbal products directly to farm visitors.
  • Expand our indoor microgreen cultivation to at least three different varieties of crops.
  • Increase and systematize product storage capacity for the farm.
  • And provide a classroom to offer a wide array of onsite workshops, rain or shine.

For several years we have partnered with local school groups to plan farm field trips. These field trips offer students an opportunity to engage with and learn about the possibilities of regenerative farming and to understand how their food and medicine can be sustainably produced. As of 2018 we offer wild edible and medicinal plants tours, as well as workshops to summer campers, adult groups, and local community members. In 2019, we will be offering a new Farm Camp week to our already popular summer MountainCamps programming.

Another recent development is the Many Hands Peace Farm Food Forest, an educational and perennial foodscape designed to demonstrate an alternative agro-ecological system for food production. The Food Forest is newly established, with a goal of producing regional foods, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration services, while educating visitors on the possibilities for regenerative farming in other wooded areas.

The farm borders a small high-altitude meadow and bird sanctuary habitat protected and managed by local partners to increase native pollinator habitat. The Mountain and our Farm staff were fortunate to receive a Bayer Feed a Bee grant in 2017, for the purpose of developing our pollinator forage habitat.

We want to build upon these highly successful initiatives by creating this Living Learning Laboratory. With your donation of any amount through this Faithify project, you can make this vision a reality!

Why:  Many Hands Peace Farm was founded in 2009 as working and educational farm intended to inspire learners of all ages with agro-ecological examples of positive change that can be brought back to their communities. The farm is located on conservation land trust property in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, which shapes all we do to responsibly manage the property and land use. We are committed to sustainability and the practices of low/no-till cultivation, completely natural fertilizers and supplements, and ethical wildcrafting practices, and demonstrating the possibilities of producing food and medicine without degrading soil, water, and wildlife habitats.

We believe in the importance of harvesting one’s own food and other beneficial plants with reciprocity and sustainability in mind. Our commitment is to facilitate the formation of personal relationships with the land, to nurture, sustain, and heal our natural environment and wildlife, as well as ourselves. In accordance with these beliefs, the Living Learning Laboratory facility will enable our Many Hands Peace Farm staff to expand our educational programs. immersive and practical farm tasks such as harvesting, seeding, planting, mushroom inoculation, and mixed-flock rotational poultry management.

How:  We will be renovating an underused vintage stable structure to convert it to a functional and accessible facility for the functions and purposes described above. Some funding has already been raised toward the costs of basic materials for renovating the structure–flooring, electrical wiring, insulation, doors, windows, lighting and heating. This Faithify funding will enable us to complete these renovations and create the classroom, storage, and work spaces.

And guess what? There is even greater incentive to inspire you make a gift to this Faithify project and double your awesomeness…thanks to two generous Mountain supporters, we can double your donation up to $5,000! 

 When:  The stable renovation and conversion process is scheduled to take place between November 2018 and the April 2019, in time for spring farming and environmental programs to begin. Most of the renovation will be done by skilled volunteer crews and work programs, under the supervision of our Facilities Manager and designed in collaboration with our Farm Managers.

From all of us at The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center and the Many Hands Peace Farm, we THANK YOU for your support of this Living Learning Laboratory project!

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