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Sustainable Farming for Future Generations: The Hickory Nut Gap Story
By Kelsey Winterbottom
Hickory Nut Gap Farm began with a love story in the mountains in the year 1916, when newlyweds Jim and Elizabeth McClure visited Fairview during their honeymoon.
They were smitten with the beautiful Blue Ridge foothills and purchased historic Old Sherrill’s Inn, a way station for stagecoach travelers and cattle drovers built in the 1800s.
Jim and Elizabeth spent their lives creating a vision of beauty and serving the WNC agricultural community through the Farmers Federation, an organization that pooled farmers’ resources and buying power for local markets.
Four generations later Jim and Elizabeth’s great grandson, Jamie Ager, met his sweetheart Amy Frey at Warren Wilson College. Jamie and Amy fell in love and embarked on a mission to share the family farm experience with the world and develop a sustainable farming model for future generations. In 2000, they began managing the farm, raising 100% grassfed cattle and pasture-raised pigs and chickens, as well as rearing their three sons, Cyrus, Nolin, and Levi.
The growth of the farm-to-table movement led to an increased demand for pasture-raised meats in the local Asheville market. While continuing his education in agriculture leadership at NC State, Jamie met Sam Dobson, an organic dairy farmer from Iredell County. The two determined that there was a need for farmers to work together to supply Asheville and surrounding areas with pasture-raised meats, forming a partnership that would later become the Hickory Nut Gap Meats wholesale company.
In 2006, Jamie and Amy opened up their land to the public by building the farm store. Built from poplar trees harvested on the family farm, the store has grown with the community over the years, offering fresh and frozen meats, local goods, and a growing meat CSA program. Eventually in 2015, Hickory Nut Gap Farm launched a Barnraiser campaign to fund the addition of a kitchen and butchery, which is open year-round to the community for shopping, lunch, and brunch.
Throughout the seasons, Hickory Nut Gap Farm offers an array of family-friendly events. May through October, folks can enjoy live music and dancing at Friday night barn dances, held in the rustic Big Barn. Through September and October, the Fall Festival gives families an opportunity enjoy the corn maze, buy local apples, go on hay rides, and more. Other events include the Renaissance Faire, Sausage Festival, stargazing events, and butchery classes. Foodies and fun-seekers alike can bring their appetites and families to experience farming first-hand anytime!
Hickory Nut Gap is proud to be a leader in 100% grassfed and grass finished beef, pasture-raised pork, and pasture-raised chicken, and now works with over 30 farmers in the Southeastern United States. They are spearheading the regenerative agriculture movement by using a pasture-based farming model, following in the footsteps of brilliant minds such as Joel Salatin and Allan Savory to rebuild soil and reverse climate change. Hickory Nut Gap is sincerely driven in their heartfelt mission to support local farmers in a growing economy, and to connect customers to the food they consume.