~ Plant and Gather Forest Farm ~

This is a business owner who has reached out to Slow Money NC. 

Business Owner:  Peter Waskiewicz and Michelle Dixon
Business Name:   Plant and Gather Forest Farm
Location:   240 Briggs Road, Marshall, NC

Tell us your story. What is your business idea? Tell us your plan.
My name is Peter Waskiewicz. Since 1990, I have been involved with sustainable agriculture and Permaculture Design as a student, teacher, business owner and advocate. Resume available.

Before moving to North Carolina I worked on pre-NOP organic farms in Kansas, New Mexico, California for 8 winters on the garden island of Kauai. The highlight of this period was 92 and 93 seasons at the Seeds of Change in Gila, NM. There I gained exceptional work-study experience in organic seed production and breeding in the company of world class seedsman: Dr. Alan Kapuler, Gabriel Howearth and Emigdio Ballon.

I have lived in Western North Carolina since 2000 where I founded and operated 2 pioneering sustainable businesses.

In 2001 I co-founded South East Ecological Design with Kevin Ward who continues to operate it to the present. SEED is a green design/build firm constructing award winning residences and landscapes in Western North Carolina. We developed a pioneering approach to low impact site development and green construction. See the antiquated website here: ecologicaldesign.net

Beginning in 2007 I conceived, established and operated Sow True Seed for the first 5 years. I personally developed the extensive seed offering, established the regional seed grower network and managed the 140 location seed rack program. sowtrueseed.com

My latest venture is by far the most exciting to me as it has become the rest of my life’s work. In spring of 2017 my partner and I got owner financing on a magnificent 156 acre south facing hollar in Madison county. We call it Plant and Gather Forest Farm. In 2018 we will begin operations. Income streams will include:

– Agri-tourism and educational workshops.
– Non-timber forest products: native plants, seeds and mushrooms.
– U-pick fruit, nut, berry and vegetable crops.
– A native and useful plant nursery.
– An informative website offering our value added products.

Here is our newly crafted mission Statement:

Our mission is to establish an economically sustainable enterprise that is guided by the ethical directives of improving soil and water quality, regenerative forestry and permaculture design*. Through practical research and education we intend to provide a working model of active preservation to inspire sustainable forestry initiatives in Southern Appalachian communities.

* The prime directive of permaculture design is “to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children” – Bill Mollison

The 3 permaculture ethics:
Care for the Earth
Care for People
Setting limits to consumption

Please briefly describe your commitment to sustainable food systems in North Carolina.: I’ve been working on sustainable and sovereign food systems since I got here in 2000 and i’m not done yet. 🙂

What will your sales be? What do you anticipate your profits/your margins will look like? How will you make the money to pay this loan back?: Being 40 minutes from Asheville, the agri-tourism aspects of our operation will be relied upon to generate reliable early income. My business plan has income projection for 5 years. Here is a piece about our income streams from my business plan.

– Agri-tourism programs in 2018 will derive income from rentals of 4 rustic campsites, 2 full service “glamping” sites, 1 small RV hook up and 1 modern cabin.

– Educational workshops will be primarily focused on a wide range of sustainable forestry topics like: chainsaw operation, timber stand improvement and forest farming techniques. While WNC offers many different opportunities for nature based education, to our knowledge there are no programs focused on small scale sustainable forestry for private landowners. We are confident the program will draw participants from across Appalachia and temperate regions from around the globe.

– Sustainably harvested timber will be processed on site with a portable saw mill. We plan to set up a woodworking shop for producing handcrafted value added products.

– Forest products including high value native medicinal herbs like ginseng and bloodroot, native seeds, nuts, mushrooms and paw paws are just a few items from our diverse offering. Many marketable species exist in the forest already. Our work is to continually expand the native populations and to integrate new crops into the forest. Our forest products will be destined for wholesale, added value, CSA and regional markets.

– Honey bees, vegetables and U-pick fruit, nut and berry crops will provide the familiar edibles to retail, occasional wholesale and value added markets.

– Native and useful plant nursery will supply stock for farm and forest plantings as well as regional markets.

Have you borrowed money before? How much did you borrow? From where? How long was the term? Is there a balance still due on that loan?: Yes. I paid off a new dodge pickup I bought in 2001 and still drive it today. Other than that my only debt is to the private lender of our farm.

Do you have people who would vouch for your credit worthiness? Who are they?: Yes, many.
Here are 3.
Jeremy Stauffer
Kevin Ward
Adam Schwartz
Contacts available on request.

Tell us about your business background. Have you been in business before?: Definitely. Resume available.

Are there other lenders involved in your project or business?: No. We are looking hard though. You could the first!

What is your timeline for this project? Would you like it to start in a month? 6 months? A year?: We are up and running now! I’m working daily on my vision in the office and the reality on the ground. Our business plan provides a development timeline and budget.