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Supporting Land Conservation through Blueberries

Article Published: Jul. 22, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Supporting Land Conservation through Blueberries

Organic and sustainably grown, blueberries abound at Old Orchard Creek Farm in Lansing, site of the upcoming Blueberry Festival to benefit the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

Photo submitted

The tart sweetness of mountain blueberries is one of the icons of a High Country summer.

On Saturday, July 24, blueberry enthusiasts can get their fix at the annual Blueberry Festival at Old Orchard Creek Farm.

The festival begins at noon and goes until 6 p.m., with a program at 2:30 p.m.

The beneficiary is Blue Ridge Conservancy, a local land trust that protects areas "with significant agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational or scenic value" in the High Country through land easements throughout seven counties in the area, according to their website.

"For the past few years, the festival always goes to benefit land conservation, and this year it goes to Blue Ridge Conservancy," Zachary Lesch-Huie, communication director for Blue Ridge Conservancy, said. "Walter Clark will speak at the mid-afternoon program."

Walter Clark is the executive director of Blue Ridge Conservancy, the newly-formed merger of Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust, based in West Jefferson, and High Country Conservancy, based in Boone.

"Two great, historical land conservation efforts had been serving in the same area, in the Northwestern corner of the state, and a lot of supporters wondered why we were doing the same work in the same place, why not get together and be one organization doing the good work that we do?" Lesch-Huie said.

The merger happened in May 2010, and now the summer events are the first to be held as a joint venture.

"This festival was a Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust event, but this year it should be bigger with the High Country Conservancy side," Lesch-Huie said. "All the events this summer are a kind of celebration of this new organization going forward.

Clark also owns Old Orchard Creek Farm, a fully operational farm that grows blueberries and apples sustainably and organically.

"The farm is a registered historical place, out in a spot near Pond Mountain," Lesch-Huie said. "We also have a conservation easement out there."

During the event, bluegrass artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer will play, as well as the acoustic roots band Backstreet.

"The two-time Grammy Award winning bluegrass and folk musicians (Fink and Marxer) will be headlining." Lesch-Huie said.

All proceeds from the event go to the ongoing land projects of the Blue Ridge Conservancy, which are never in short supply.

"In this economy, our phone has been ringing off the hook with potential land projects," Lesch-Huie said. "The funds we raise go to completing those projects. Blue Ridge Conservancy has protected about 15,000 acres already."

The event has a suggested donation of 30 dollars per person, which includes blueberry picking and food - BBQ, iced tea, and blueberry cobbler.

"This is a local food kind of thing, as well," Lesch-Huie said. "Local foodies may enjoy seeing a small, operating, successful mountain farm."

Before the event, RSVP is requested, which can be done by emailing info@blueridgeconservancy or calling (336) 846-2758, and more information on the festival and on land conservation can be found at

"Come out and get blueberries for the rest of your summer," Lesch-Huie said. "Bring your kids; we're very family friendly."

Old Orchard Creek Farm is located at 410 Swansie Shepherd Road in Lansing. For more information, call (336) 384-2774.

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