Another piece of farmland saved

Hickory Nut Gap Farm, a historic and scenic farm in Buncombe County, has been permanently protected through a conservation agreement with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

The family-owned farm raises livestock and grows produce found at several grocers, including Earth Fare in Asheville. In exchange for pledging conservation of the tract, the family received more than $1 million for protecting nearly 300 acres of the farm. The bulk of the money came from the N.C. Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, to the tune of $700,000. Matches came from the Buncombe County conservation fund and private donors.

The scenic farm is an important part of the landscape marked by the new state parks of Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Gorge.

The farm straddles the designated Drovers Road Scenic Highway. Travelers of the road lodged at Sherrill’s Inn, the centerpiece of the farm.

The Clarke family faced a tough decision, as the property is in a prime spot for development, which could be lucrative for the family.

“But we looked at that and said, ‘no, we don’t want to do it,’” said Annie Clarke Ager, one of the landowners. Ager said the family is grateful to the citizens of the state for funding the conservation.

The farm is owned collectively by the six living children of the original property owners.

“The conservation easement is beneficial for family relationships because it settles important previously unanswered questions about how the family property will be managed and used in the future,” said Ager.

“This conservation easement was the only option our family had to keep our farm and forestland intact for future generations,” said Doug Clarke, part-owner of the property.

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