EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems (EMFS) is excited to announce that Gnome Mountain Farms is the second recipient of funding from EMFS grant and loan program! The program is designed to “buy down” the cost of purchasing equipment or infrastructure for farm and food businesses, and is a partnership between Carolina Farm Credit and EMFS, which is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, NC Cooperative Extension, and Cherokee Preservation Foundation. Gnome Mountain was able to take advantage of both loan funding through CFC as well as a small equipment grant from EMFS to expand their poultry business.

Founded in the Spring of 2019, Gnome Mountain Farm raises and processes chicken, duck, and turkey and is the only local poultry producer and processor west of Haywood County. The farm was originally started after the founder, Hayden Smith, graduated from Western Carolina University in 2011 and moved to Washington State for graduate school at Washington State University. Always having an interest in high-quality food, when the founder moved back to Sylva in 2018,  the goal was to become part of a local farmers market like the one he enjoyed in Washington. As there were no poultry producers, it was a great spot to fill.

“Having grown up hiking and kayaking in the Smoky Mountains and other areas around Sylva, I knew it was the perfect place to start the company,” Hayden said. “With family and friends in the area, as well as a connection to WCU, Sylva is the perfect place to make a home and the farming is part of it. There is a vibrant community of small farmers in the area and the goal is now to be a part of helping the local food industry grow.”

Gnome Mountain has received tremendous support from other farmers and the community, particularly for local meat, creating a consistent customer base – including local restaurant favorite, chef & owner Jen Pearson from Guadalupe Cafe.

“The EMFS Grant and Loan Program has already been great for the Gnome Mountain Farm – so far it made it possible to attend the Carolina Meat Conference in 2019, which was a great place to make many key contacts in the industry and learn from farmers with experience. In addition, EMFS has provided grant funding that was essential for expansion in 2020,” Hayden said. With the help of EMFS, Gnome Mountain Farm has been able to purchase professional processing equipment and build a facility that is efficient and makes way to grow the business.

If your farm is interested in the EMFS grant and loan program, you can learn more about business services and opportunities here.