What is more delightful than finding a hidden gem ‘experience’ on vacation? I am so excited to share this gem with you. Alex and I recently booked a trip to the Smokies and what a breathtaking experience. For our first Airbnb experience, we hit the jackpot! We started our trip at a beautiful cottage in the Smokies & ended our trip at a lovely Bed & Breakfast about 2 hours away. I was pretty glued to our cottage with the stunning view of the Smoky Mountains but we did break out for one excursion & I am so glad we did!
Just outside of Asheville lies a beautiful town called Leicester, NC. With rolling green hills, farm houses, winding country roads & mountain views, Leicester looks like it is straight out of a painting. We booked our trip to Mount Gilead Farm and French Broad Creamery for our working farm tour. Little did I know just how much Alex & I would enjoy this fantastic day trip. So much so, that I just had to share with you. If you are taking a trip to the Smokies or Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I highly recommend you stop by and visit our new friends.
When we arrived to this beautiful 48 acre farm nestled in the rolling hills and mountains of Leicester, we were greeted by Zachariah who helps run the day to day operation of the farm with his family. It was such a joy taking a tour of this 1st generation family farm & with his wonderful story telling abilities and knowledge, Zach really helped us to jump right in. It would suffice to say we made some new ‘forever friends’. I felt like I was walking through a painting and with breathtaking views, precious animals (horses, donkeys, chickens, goats and more) it was the BEST way to just be in nature and relax.
Fueled by a dream & desire of Zachariah’s father, Robert (Farmer Bob), a retired Professor, and his delightful wife Kathleen, Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery was started. As we walked around asking questions and engaging, I learned that the whole family each has a piece in the beautiful design unfolding at the farm. It is a real ‘family affair’ and I just loved that! When you can take a love for the land & animals and combine it with the love of family... a beautiful thing unfolds. Farmer Bob and Kathleen have four amazing kids each contributing their own individual strengths to Mount Gilead Farm and French Broad Creamery. Robertino, the eldest, is an amazing host, cook and entertainer for brunch tours. Gabriel is the next son who frequently volunteers his free time from being a boat captain in Charleston to come up and help with projects around the farm, organization & systems around the farm and even bought a camper for a farm hand to stay in! Zachariah is in charge of the day to day operations & caring for the animals and land with his father. He is amazing at what he does and truly, you’d think he had lived the ‘farm life’ forever. Lastly, Robert & Kathleen’s daughter, Sophia, helps with the social media & marketing for the farm, working with the website & is getting ready to host the first ‘Mount Gilead Farm’ wedding to test the waters on a possible future wedding venue.
The secret of stretching. When you stretch, ease your body into position until you feel the stretch and hold it for about 25 seconds. Breathe deeply to help your body move oxygen-rich blood to those sore muscles. Don't bounce or force yourself into an uncomfortable position.
As you can see, this beautiful family all dove right in to make Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery what it is today. In just a few short years, this family went from a mere dream to a productive farm yielding the rich rewards of their obedience. The animals are healthy, happy and thriving and the food, goat cheese and delicious produce goes to supply locals with the best (truly delicious) food. It really is a wonderful thing to see a family excited about producing food as it should be. Wholesome, nutritious and nourishing to the body.
Go for brown carbs vs. white carbs. White carbsare refined grains like white rice, pasta, white bread, crackers, noodles, tortillas, wraps, anything with white flour and breading. The nutrients have been removed in the production process, leaving them rich in calories but low in nutrients. They also cause unhealthy spikes in our sugar levels. Go for brown carbs (unrefined complex carbs) instead, like brown rice, whole grain, oats, oatmeal (not the instant kind), and legumes. These come with nutrients and vitamins intact.
As we toured this pristine land, we got to pop in and visit the goats and I laughed after we left the farm and told Alex “You don’t know a great day until you’ve been hugged by a goat”. The animals all have their own unique personalities & stories. For instance, the Donkey who made her home on the farm & found her boyfriend (the horse) there who she is now glued to. You can hear more about that cute story from Zach when you tour their farm. The farm dog, Max, also chose Mount Gilead to be his ‘furever’ home and he is happy as can be just running around the farm with you as you tour it. He rolls in the grass, laps water and does his job just bringing a smile to your face.
A growing corps of climate experts have warned us repeatedly that we must stop burning fossil fuels; eliminate destructive food, farming and land use practices; and draw down enough carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth's atmosphere through regenerative farming/ranching and enhanced natural photosynthesis to return us to 350 parts per million (ppm) or, better yet, to pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm.
As we ended the tour, we circled back around to the front of the farm where there was a lovely tree providing just the right amount of shade and a picnic bench just beneath it with a checkered linen and spread of various homemade goat cheeses, homemade goodies, farm fresh salad, dressing and produce ready for lunch. It was so beautiful! We sat with our feet in the grass (grounding) and talking to Zach as we ate lunch. Zach recalled stories of his family, the farm and shared about the love his mother has for hosting others. He even recalled how in his college days she would invite others in to stay and live with them so that they didn’t get overwhelmed by the enormity of costs associated with college living. His Mother, Kathleen, came out to visit us with her bright clear smile and warm heart. I can spot genuineness from a mile away and it flows plentiful on this farm.
Drink Some Water, Especially Before Meals. Drinking enough water can have numerous benefits. One important factor, is that it can help boost the amount of calories you burn. According to 2 studies, it can boost metabolism by 24-30% over a period of 1-1.5 hours. This can amount to 96 additional calories burned if you drink 2 liters (67 oz) of water per day. The best time to drink water is half an hour before meals. One study showed that half a liter of water, 30 minutes before each meal, increased weight loss by 44%.
As Kathleen helped to serve us during lunch, I randomly snapped a picture of her hands doing so. Serving. Then I thought, I wonder how many hearts these hands have served? Sometimes it is not about ‘what’ is served but the hands that serve. From raising babies, hugging others, lifting others up, serving who knows how many meals... I thought to myself “these hands tell a story”.
It was seriously one of THE most delightful experiences. The weather was perfect and it was the most appropriate picture of seeing the rewards of all of the hard work that goes into this farm. It started with a tour and ended over laughs, good conversation and food that came right from the land we were on. It was witnessing the work behind the food. The love behind the homemade soaps and baked goods. The circle of life and how it all goes into a working farm. Nothing is wasted here. The land isn’t just ‘used’ for what it can provide but lovingly nurtured and turned appropriately.
At Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery, it is not just a ‘tour’ but an experience. Truly. I can’t wait to come back and visit this warm family soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend you book your experience. From petting goats, bottle feeding baby goats and taking a delightful farm tour & tasting, they offer so much! In the near future they will have a 1 bedroom vacation rental available to book so you can stay on the farm yourself. Trust me when I tell you, Alex and I will be doing this. I can’t wait for you to have your own experience here... make sure you tell me all about it! Make sure you leave your comments and I will be sure Farmer Bob, Kathleen, Zach and the whole family see them.
“For these technologies to be part of the solution, those of us in the developed world need to drastically reduce our energy consumption.” Leaving coal, oil and other natural resources in the ground and replanting forests that have been lost to deforestation is the path we should be on, but instead humanity is still clearing grasslands to plant monocrops like corn to make ethanol — a perfect example of the dichotomy of many “green” products and fuels.
Take time out to relax. Relaxation is very important to a healthy mind. However you choose to relax - deep breathing, yoga, fishing, having a bath, reading a book - try to chill out for an hour a day if you can. Mental exhaustion can cause stress, depression and anxiety disorders. Modern lifestyles can be hectic - if you're not working, you're running after the kids or racing around the grocery store or doing something else. Relax! Breathe deeply. Even fifteen minutes of this is better than none, but do try for an hour a day.
Blessings on your journey!Here is how you can find this Family, Farm and book this experience yourself: Facebook: Mount Gilead Farm & French Broad Creamery; Web: www.frenchbroadgoats.com; Airbnb Experience: abnb.me/esf5k7ooLZ