The Long Branch Environmental Education Center, Inc. is a small educational institute in Buncombe County's Newfound Mountains, about 18 miles northwest of Asheville, North Carolina. Set aside in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary and land trust, it has developed into an educational center for sharing positive strategies of sustainability and local self-reliance in the areas of environmental design, organic food production, renewable energy, shelter design and construction, appropriate technology, resource conservation, recycling, wildlife protection, ecological restoration, and improved environmental quality.
The land itself over 1400 acres of rugged wilderness and farmland ranging in elevation from 3,000 to 5,152 feet in the Newfound Mountain range, a side-chain between the Black Mountains to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains, 9 miles to the west. Over sixteen hundred acres are mostly eastern hardwood forest, with several mountain springs and streams where rare, threatened and endangered native plant species are conserved. Five acres are managed in a Permaculture design of small scale organic gardens, crops, orchards, and rainbow trout aquaculture in an integrated edible landscape.
Structures on the land include a passive solar office and staff residence, a passive solar cabin, two attached solar greenhouses, three composting toilets, one passive solar conference center, a traditional 1917 farm house with a state-of-the-art energy conservation retrofit, an old tobacco barn, and miscellaneous outbuildings, including a secluded retreat shelter.
Programs revolve around sharing Long Branch -- the place, the people and their skills -- with youngsters and adults from the general public. Long Branch is open to the public daily; general visitors come to hike the trails, bird-watch, visit the demonstration passive solar residences and greenhouses, and to observe (and often participate in) whatever is going on at the moment, whether it is gardening, building, or a migratory bird census.
Each spring through fall a series of weekend workshops and longer programs are held, on topics ranging from organic gardening, fruit and nut tree grafting, wilderness survival skills, Permaculture, environmental design and edible landscaping, citizen environmental action, Appalachian geology, aquaculture, beekeeping, small animal husbandry, recycling and waste utilization, solar food drying and preservation, masonry wood stove construction, solar greenhouse and low-cost solar hot water system design and use, to micro-hydro-power.
Throughout the year, day-long visits by school and college classes are welcomed. Volunteers are enthusiastically encouraged, and an internship program is also offered year-round.
Long Branch staff are involved with speaking in the greater Southern Appalachian area on topics ranging from environmental action to resource conservation to alternative energy, and cooperating with other groups and organizations to further public awareness and understanding of the need for resource conservation, renewable energy and environmental integrity.
Means of Support
Means of support for all programs include private donations, seminar and workshop fees, small grants, and consulting services. Long Branch is a private, non-profit educational organization with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, tax-deductible status.