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Gathering in the Mountains with the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition

Written by Sara Jackson, FHNC Member and ABFFC Admin and Margaret Bloomquist, NC State Research Scholar and ABFFC Associate Director

Editor’s Note: This event took place on September 8, 2023 thanks to a partnership with the Forest Stewards Guild and support from Domtar, PactivEvergreen, and Georgia-Pacific. We hope to continue gathering together in 2024. Do you have a project on your land to share or co-create with fellow ForestHers? Let us know if you want to host a gathering on your land and we can help make that happen!

In September 2023, ForestHer NC (FHNC) and the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition (ABFFC) came together for the ForestHer Mountain Region Gathering to bring a special event to forest owners, forest stewards, and forest professionals in Western North Carolina. Combining the missions of Engaging Women in Woodland Stewardship (FHNC) and Growing Opportunities Beneath the Canopy (ABFFC), this event focused on Appalachian Cove Forests and their stewardship and available economic opportunities for landowners and technical service professionals in an area that heavily relies on natural resources.

Appalachian Cove Forests are rich and highly biodiverse natural communities that are crucial to our environment, a huge assortment of wildlife, and to humans. These areas are culturally significant across the region. Found on sheltered and low to mid elevation valleys across WNC and widespread through the Appalachian mountains, they are critically important to conserve. Often the source of headwaters, cove forests host a variety of endemic and specialized species that depend on that specific and stable habitat. Rich cove forests provide critical natural resources, but also timber resources, recreational and economic opportunities through forest farming and non timber forest products.

Photos: 1) Dakota Wagner, FHNC and event organizer giving an introduction to Appalachian Cove sites, 2) Introduction to Forest Farming with Margaret Bloomquist, Associate Director for ABFFC, 3) Attendees hike and learn near the Middle Prong Wilderness outside of Canton, NC, 4) Group discussing Appalachian cove forest sites, site assessment and indicator species.

The program covered an introduction to Appalachian Cove Forests, forest farming, and a few of the key species also known as non timber forest products (NTFPs). We learned about woodland botanicals and other NTFPs that grow in these protected cove forests. Key species such as the popular spring edible: ramps; and popular medicinal species like solomon’s seal, black cohosh, goldenseal, and ginseng were also discussed with a hands-on demonstrations. A short hike was enjoyed along a trailhead entrance and rich cove forest site to discuss key characteristics, site selection tools, and indicator species that landowners can look for when deciding to steward or forest farm.

By empowering forest owners, stewards and professionals to recognize these special areas and key species; management, stewardship, and practices such as forest farming can continue to grow and thrive throughout Western North Carolina and beyond.

Further resources in North Carolina for those interested in Forest Farming:


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