By Emma Castleberry
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has created a new way for visitors and locals to support land preservation while enjoying an immersive experience in nature: two vacation rentals, a cabin at the Robinson Rough Preserve and the farmhouse at the SAHC Community Farm.
These structures were already existing when SAHC preserved the land where they are located. The farmhouse is situated on the SAHC Community Farm property, which was donated to the organization in 2010 by Marie Anderson. SAHC purchased the 248-acre cove in Sandy Mush known as Robinson Rough, along with the cabin, in 2011. “With a few updates, these stays now offer a way for people to engage with beautiful places that are permanently protected for land and water resources, plant and animal habitat, farmland and scenic beauty,” says Angela Shepherd, communications director for SAHC.
Amy Jackson found the SAHC farmhouse through Airbnb while looking for a winter getaway for her family. “The house sits on a picturesque landscape, but is close enough to Asheville to offer plenty of activities,” she says. “Our son loved the cows on the property and would greet them every morning. What really stood out to us, though, was how we could contribute to the local community by renting the farmhouse through SAHC. Renting the farmhouse made us feel like we were part of a larger mission during our stay even if we were contributing in a small way.”
Proceeds from guest stays help SAHC continue to protect land and water resources in the direct vicinity of the guest stay area and throughout the region. The stays also support SAHC programs like the Farmer Incubator Program and ongoing efforts to protect wildlife corridors, sources of clean water and acreage to be added to public lands. SAHC is currently working to update other cabins and structures on their lands for more guest stays. “We also have a few tent camping platforms that have been constructed on preserves, so that people can enjoy camping while protecting ecologically sensitive areas,” says Shepherd. “We plan to release more info about these and how people can reserve them later this year.” Additionally, the organization hopes to provide private mindfulness and nature connection tours on the properties as well as voluntourism opportunities, weddings and elopements.
“These are truly incredible places where you can enjoy the best of the Appalachian mountains,” says Shepherd. “We want to share that experience with everyone and these guest stays provide a way to do that. And, while you are relaxing in these incredible places and basking in the beauty of nature, you are also doing something good for the planet. Make an impact while caring for yourself and loved ones—it’s a win-win.”
For more information, visit Appalachian.org.