Cloud 9 Farm Receives Mini Grant

In February 2017 the WNC Agricultural Options program awarded 35 farm businesses grants totaling $201,000 to assist in farm diversification and expansion. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission is the exclusive financial supporter of WNC AgOptions, which aims to build sustainable farming communities in the mountain region by providing resources directly to farmers.

Buncombe County always has the most applicants – 15 this year. Of the 5 farms awarded grants in our county, 2 of them are right here in Fairview! Projects increase the economic sustainability of farm businesses.

Cloud 9 Farm was one of those that received a $3000 grant to improve the irrigation system on Janet Peterson’s blueberry farm to enhance the health of her berry bushes. She is also adding 200 raspberry plants to diversify her U-Pick operation. The early summer fruiting floricane raspberries will bridge the gap between the Northern Highbush blueberries in June and the mid-July/August harvest of the Rabbit Eye blueberry variety for her U-Pick operation. Of course, they won’t produce for another year after planting.

Janet’s current drip irrigation system is not producing enough pressure to consistently water all parts of the hilly patch. A major leak in the irrigation pond coupled with the spring and early summer droughts of 2015 and 2016, meant that she had to supplement with labor-intensive, hand watering of younger bushes. Production lowered considerably. Putting in a new “zone” of underground piping for new drip lines on the raspberry plantings is expected to solve the problem along with the repair of the pond. (Using the red clay dug out for the Dollar General Store on Cane Creek Rd!)

Cloud 9 Farm has produced blueberries since 1974. Janet has also added cattle, pastured Cornish hens and turkeys, honey bees and select harvest timber. Vacation stays in two cabins and weddings on the farm have become popular for vacationers from all over the US. She likes to do honey bee education with small groups of children and make skin care products using the bees wax, honey and propolis, too. Since Janet retired from school teaching in 2007, she has turned her family’s hobby farm into a diversified operation demanding her full-time attention.