Soaking Wet but Worth It (Part 1 of ASAP Farm Tour)

Highland cow

One of the goals of Stony Woods Estate is to curate a list of enjoyable area experiences for our guests and their families. There are activities in the greater Asheville area that visitors will find with or without our help (Biltmore House, anyone?). We want to help locate fun places to visit that might be less well-known but still worth a visit. With this in mind, we signed up for the 2019 ASAP Farm Tour, an economical way to visit a large number of farms over the course of a weekend.

Greenshine Farms

On Day 1, we focused on Madison County (our neighbors!) and West Asheville, which made an easy drive. Our first stop was Greenshine Farms in Marshall, just a quick drive from our place. (A shout out to them for giving us a tour even though we inadvertently showed up more than an hour early!) Greenshine is an example of a family literally homesteading their property and creating and developing the tools they need to successfully provide fresh micro-greens to area markets and restaurants. This is an active working farm. I don’t think tours are a regular part of their business, so they won’t appear on on our curated list; however, we loved their spirit and interest in teaching others to homestead. They welcome volunteers and potential homesteaders to their property to learn more about their experience. They also have a YouTube channel where they share their lessons learned. Check it out to see more than 40 videos on their experience.

Farmhouse Beef

From Greenshine, we headed over to Farmhouse Beef, also in Madison County. We were a little early there as well – at least as far as the cows were concerned as they were hiding out in the shade of the forest. We spoke with the owner and learned a bit about herd rotation. We were also excited to see that they are actively selling grass-fed beef in quantities less than a whole cow. They don’t regularly offer tours at this point, but they will make our local supplier list for sure!

Addison Farms Vineyard

Our next two stops will make our curated list. In fact, they are close enough to be visited on a single trip. We dropped in on Addison Farms Vineyard. Our timing was perfect since it began to rain. (What a hardship! Stranded at a wine tasting.) Their property was beautiful as some of our pictures managed Addison Farms Vineyardto capture. They regularly offer vineyard tours and tastings. The young woman who guided our tasting was very informative on each type of wine and preferred pairings. They also offer an elevated tasting at midday on Saturdays, which includes the sampling of their wines plus a local charcuterie and cheese plate. The staff advised that they also arrange private catered parties upon request. It would be a great local experience for retreat participants, family reunions, or business groups.

As of May 2018, they have six varieties in the vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot, and Petite Manseng. They have produced a variety of award-winning wines.

Franny's Farm

Highland cowWe dodged raindrops after our tasting and headed over to Franny’s Farm, a well-known local organic farm that is home to many animals such as highland cows (aren’t they cute?!), chickens, pigs, goats and a donkey. There are vegetable, fruit, flower, bee and pollinator gardens as well as a u-pick blueberry hill. The sky decided to open up and drop buckets of water while we were there, so we donned boots and raincoats to see what we could see. We’ll head back that way during better weather to see what we missed (and visit the cows – did I mention how cute they are?)

Franny’s has also become synonymous with area hemp farming and CBD oil since they also have several stores, Franny’s Farmacy, in the area. If you are interested in understanding this growing trend, Franny’s is the place to learn more. In addition to their farm tour and hikes throughout their property, kids can visit with the animals, and Franny’s is happy to schedule private events including goat yoga sessions (yes, really. We might need to do one of these.)Goats

If we were planning an outing, we would pair Addison Farms and Franny’s, then head over to White Duck Taco Shop in Asheville or Universal Joint on Haywood Road, or Bonfire Barbeque on Patton Avenue. We encourage our guests to try something new when it comes to food. Don’t eat something you can easily get at home. When visiting a Food-topia like Asheville, it is often well worth stepping out of your comfort zone.

Stay tuned for Farm Tour – Part Two, when we explore Fairview and Mills River. Good news – rain boots were NOT required.

Memories in the Making

wedding photo

It’s funny how sometimes your personal life and professional life can mesh, providing you with some deeper insight into both aspects. About two weeks ago, we were blessed to celebrate a wedding in our family. It was held at the University of Tennessee Arboretum in Oak Ridge, which offered an outdoor pavilion where the wedding was held and a beautiful meeting space for the reception. Being involved in the planning and execution of the event gave us the opportunity reflect professionally on what we liked about the space and what we wished were different – and to reflect on our own plans for renovating our existing Stony Woods building into our Villa Event Center.

After working within the small kitchen space, which was equipped with only a sink, standard fridge, microwave, and limited counter space, we felt affirmed in our decision to offer a catering kitchen with both prep and serving space. We had to be pretty creative to work in the space we were given.

The event space itself was great. We loved the floor to ceiling windows that really brought the beauty of nature indoors (see below). Who needs elaborate decorations to compete with a room with a view? The building also had a wide patio that wrapped around a portion of the building. This enabled us to have our bar and cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres outdoors while post-wedding photos were happening. We were also able to have reception tables outside on the patio for guests who preferred to take in the gorgeous autumn afternoon. Most of all, we liked the space of the room. It was just the right size.

We liked it so much that we decided that we needed to reconsider the size of our own event space. We had planned for a space between 900-1000 square feet, which fit within the existing footprint of our building. However, in the end, we have decided that a space that is more like 1500-1600 square feet makes better sense for what we want to be able to offer. This means pushing out the back wall of our main meeting space.

Not only will we gain a larger event space, but we will take the opportunity to enlarge the windows to capture that sense of being in a “room with a view”. We had large windows, but we want our guests to feel surrounded by the beauty of our property on a much grander scale.

Having the opportunity to be a part of a family member’s special day really reinforced our desire to help create these moments for other families. We enjoyed having the chance to pitch in to make this a memorable day for the bride and groom. (Steve even worked with the groom to build that beautiful wedding arch pictured above, which will be available for future weddings at Stony Woods 😊)

More than anything, we want to create a joy-filled space for people to gather and enjoy their time together, whether it is for celebrations, meetings, or retreats. We are eager to be a part of making memories for each group who comes to Stony Woods.

The Team at Stony Woods Estate – Jack, Wendy, Leslie, Steve, and Kim

Photo credit for cover image: Ashton Streifert Photo

First Step Toward Groundbreaking

Have you ever woken from a dream that was so incredible that you wanted to close your eyes right away just to recapture the feeling? If so, then you have just the smallest inkling of how we feel to see our project about to become reality.

We have just crossed our first major hurdle – rezoning with the county. To operate a business from a previously zoned residential property, this step has to happen before any major work on-site can begin.

I’ve attached our initial master plan sketch, which is not to scale and not terribly precise in terms of actual treehouse placement (since the actual trees on the property will be the real determinant for this). However, it shows the concept toward which we are working –  a new gatehouse welcome center and gorgeous entrance; enclaves of 3 or 4 treehouses grouped to share parking, but separated for privacy; and renovation of the existing villa into a unique event center with indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate groups for retreats, special events, and meetings; hiking trails throughout our 95 acres; and a beautiful park at the center of the property for outdoor events or quiet inspiration for our guests.

If you explore our website, you will see that we have shared some of the initial architectural sketches and floor plans. Everything is still evolving as our team comes together to work on this, but it is SO exciting to see our dream for this place becoming reality.

Thanks to our current team, which includes ACM Design for master planning/architecture and Briarwood Construction for general contracting and construction, for bringing your excitement and interest to this project.

We’ll keep you posted every step of the way.

The Team at Stony Woods Estate – Jack, Wendy, Leslie, Steve, and Kim