Please note this is a healing place and is an alcohol, drug and tobacco-free environment. Please don't apply if you can't honor our policies. Fine to go out for a beer or glass of wine or on special occasions here. This is a school for sustainable living, a working farm, and homestead. It is located in the Nantahala Mountains on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 10 miles south of the town of Franklin, North Carolina (120 miles N.E. of Atlanta, GA and 70 miles west of Asheville, NC). The center's 32 acres lie in the heart of a small valley with a stream fed by numerous springs and surrounded by national forest. The stream provides water for an off-grid hydro-electric system. The area is home to wild turkey, deer, bear, and has one of the largest diversities of plants anywhere in the world. Huge chestnut stumps, remains of 1800 log cabins, mill raceways, spring houses, century-old farming roads, and old still sites, are reminders of a people and a way of life based on an intimate knowledge of the environment and those skills needed to survive.
My current plan is to start an Intentional Community. I will also host volunteers who would like to experience off-the-grid living, organic gardening, sustainable building, and more. What you will learn here will depend on your length of stay and commitment (hours that you work and responsibilities). Short-term volunteers need to put in 30 hours/week. A variety of fresh, canned, frozen organic food will be provided for your stay. Most meals are shared in a communal kitchen. Fresh veggies, trout, and basic bulk foods are also available. Volunteers can also help with our Saturday tailgate market. Generally, a minimum stay of 3 weeks is recommended. Short term volunteers may need to tent camp depending on available space. Some meals may be prepared for you.
For longer-term volunteers or permanent members. there is an opportunity here to learn valuable skills and knowledge for sustainable living. Stipends are based on the length of stay, hours that you work, experience and responsibilities that you take on. If you are contemplating becoming a permanent member here you will need to complete an introductory 3-week stay and then complete a year-long internship/stay to be accepted as a permanent member.
I will take the time to teach you what I know and the rest we will learn together. Current projects include building an Earth Sheltered House, a portable workshop, installing a spring fed water system, installing solar panels, and more. I've been farming for more than 40 years and have lived off grid for 13 years.
The Center's goal is to help preserve the cultural history and natural beauty of this area through presentations, demonstrations of heritage skills, tours, summer camp programs, and classes for adults and children. I offer volunteer stays in which you will be helping with organic gardening and marketing, building projects, as well as participating in day to day life here on my farm. A visit first is highly recommended for longer-term volunteers.
Our primary focus is on education: teaching back to basic skills for a sustainable future based on self-reliance. My program offers you opportunities that teach you how to survive with less, minimize your impact on the environment while building a storehouse of knowledge and skills to meet your future needs. What you learn really depends on your interest and commitment (length of stay and work schedule). If you decide to stay around and make a commitment to learning basic knowledge and skills, I will take time to teach you what you would like to learn. I recommend that longer-term volunteers keep a work journal that documents what you learn and is part of the basis for receiving a stipend. Stipends are also based on your experience, hours worked, and the responsibilities that you take on. I will provide you a place to live, electricity, water, and basic food items from our farm and bulk dry food (grains, seeds, etc). Preserved foods are sometimes available. You can also utilize many wild foods available in our area.
Paul is a former teacher of Industrial Arts and Technology Education and is well versed in woodworking. He is working on developing appropriate building techniques that incorporate the log construction styles of the past, as well as alternative energy systems. The center has its own sawmill to provide lumber for building projects which may eventually include cabins, a workshop, and a small conference center for retreats and programming.
Some of the things you can learn while you are here include:
-Animal care (we currently don't have animals but may have some soon)
-Carpentry and other building skills
-Alternative Energy systems and energy conservation
-Wildcrafting and basic food preparation
-Woodcarving (spoon making)
-Harvesting and conversion of trees into lumber
-How to use a chainsaw, tractor and other equipment
-And other practical living skills for sustainable living.
Your work/stay with us begins with an orientation to our property and structures, a general explanation of power and water system, and an overview of current projects and plans. You will live in our guest trailer or tent camp and share household responsibilities with other guest/workers.
Is this place right for you? Are you interested in gaining valuable skills and knowledge for back to basics living? Are you willing to meet the requirements of the center's General Policies (I ask that you refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs on the property). You must be trained to use any power equipment before using and follow all safety procedures and precautions including the use of appropriate safety equipment that you will provide while using that equipment.
Come stay and enjoy the beauty of the mountains, learn to provide for yourself, and join in community with others. I welcome you to be part of our family!
Please feel free to call and talk to me or current volunteers. I will gladly email you other reviews that we have had in the past. A visit here is highly encouraged if you plan a long-term stay. Thanks! Paul