Last Thursday, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) staff members enjoyed another sensational day at Peter and Polly Gott’s idyllic farm. Tucked away deep in Madison County, the 218-acre Gott Farm is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest on two sides, there are abundant springs, wet coves full of wild edibles, viable soil for farming, and breathtaking views. Their farm is truly an ecological gem.
Our visit started out with a tour of the Gott’s log cabin, which Peter meticulously made using hand tools and historic methods. The precision and perfection of Peter’s craftsmanship was exhibited in every other building on their property as well. Peter’s tools were impeccably organized and the woodsheds were stacked so systematically, you would think the logs were books in a library. After a tour of Polly’s old art studio (which Peter also made) and their sauna by the river, the staff headed to the top of their property to enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking White Rocks and iconic Camp Creek Bald.
The real fun began after lunch when the instruments were pulled out for some old-fashioned music making. Peter led the charge on his banjo, while SAHC’s Emily Bidgood and Margot Wallston piped in on the fiddle, Jamie Ervin played the guitar, and Hanni Muerdter strummed on the mandolin. Peter’s daughter and grandsons brought it altogether with a rendition of “Bury me Beneath the Willow.” The celebration culminated with SAHC staff dancing their socks off. Peter called each dance and his daughter Susie played on the fiddle. It was a grand ol’ time.
Visiting the Gott Farm has become a tradition that all the staff look forward to every year. When the trees start blooming and the flowers are out, everyone knows it is time to visit the property again. “Peter and Polly are two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Their generosity towards others and love for their land is pervasive in everything that they do.” Said SAHC Membership Director, Cheryl Fowler.
“It was also nice for our staff to see and experience the fruits of our labor firsthand. Because we do much of our work sitting in front of desks everyday, it’s easy to sometimes lose track of the bigger picture and forget why we protect these pieces of land.” Said SAHC executive director, Carl Silverstein. “After a trip like today, it reaffirms for SAHC staff on a personal level, why we continue to protect land that has so much conservation and sentimental value.”