Entrance to The Mountain Through
 The Many Hands Peace Farm
In This Issue
The Mountain May Program Calendar

Have You 
Mountain Hiking Retreat
Savor Spring in the Blue Ridge
Reserve Your Hiking Retreat Date!
May 17-May 22
June 1-June 3
Five Night Package : $455 
Three Night Package: $285 
Package includes:  lodging, meals, transportation, and social hour.
Mountain Homecoming
May 22-25
Celebrate The Mountain's 36th Anniversary
Mountain Homecoming 

Family Friendly Program Prices:

Adult 3 Night Package: $280

Youth: 7-12 $96 

Children 11 & Under: Free


Appalachian Spring

May 25-29

This year's "Elderhostel" type program has new and strong enhancements as we learn and experience Appalachian life from native Cherokee and early settlers perspectives. You'll love it! 


We'll spend a full day at FoxFire Museum with lectures, site walks, etc. Other days include Southern cooking lessons, music, "pickin' & grinnin," etc.  


Popular concert artists, Bill and Lorrain Haroff are returning to The Mountain after 15+ year hiatus for workshop and evening fun. Take a Cherokee Trails talk/walk or other hikes. Do traditional dance, bring friends and family. Flyer and Schedule (click here) and Program Details (click here).


UU WomenSpirit
May 13-17

Fun & Adventure Week
June 29-July 5

Liberal Religious
Educators Assoc.
July 5-10

Family Camp
July 26-August 2

SUULE- Southern Unitarian Universalist
Leadership Experience
August 22-29

UU WomenSpirit
October 14-18

Southern UU Ministers Association 
November 9-12
November 24-29
Beginning Camp 
June 21-June 27 

Elementary I (9-11) 
June 14-June 20 

Elementary II 
June 14-June 27 

Intermediate I 
June 28-July 4 

Intermediate II 
June 28-July 11 

Sr. High I 
July 12-18 

Sr. High II 
July 12-25

July 12-25 

Outdoor Skills & Adventure 
June 28-July 11

June 14-July 18

Counselors in Training
June 14-July 18



MountainCamp excitement is building here at the Mountain. We have been planning for the 36th summer since we ended camp last year. As the countdown to our first camper's

arrival has been getting closer, and we are getting busier making sure this summer is amazing, it is now time to take a breath and reflect on why we do everything we do for MountainCamp.


Each summer, for the past 35 years, MountainCamp has changed the lives of campers, summer staff and parents. If you have been to MountainCamp as a

camper, you know the feeling you get when you drive into camp and wonderful, fun memories fill your heart and brain with  frien ds, who over a two week period have become family. If you have been a camper parent, then you know your child comes back different after being away at MountainCamp. Usually more mature, understanding and compassionate. And for camp staff, the way you become a parent, frien d and advocate for your campers from the first time you learn their names. MountainCamp is special.


There is no denying that these summer camp experiences change all of our lives in just a matter of hours upon arrival. If you ask anyone who has been to MountainCamp why it is so special, you will get so many individual answers but a lot of the same as well. Most campers will tell you a specific story of their time here; some might just give you a one word answer, and then, of course, there will be a few that say, "I don't know; it's just special."


But we do know why MountainCamp is so special. It is because of the campers who attend. We have a great mixture of new-to-camp and been-here-too-many-times-to-count campers. All of these kids come to us with their own personalities, their own beliefs and their own styles of cool. 

On check-in day, we place kids into cabins that will make up their family for a week or two. These individual kids then become a family, melding their individualities, sharing their style of cool, respecting each other's beliefs. These cabin groups become new friends, old friends and each other's biggest supporters.


All of these campers make up a community that is compassionate, caring and note-worthy. It is something you can feel walking into the Dining Hall as we sing our dinner song; it is something you can see when we are at the field playing games, talking and hanging out. It is something you can taste in a cooking workshop and you will hear every morning at morning circle. Our community is intentionally built and cultivated by our campers. Each summer is subtly different at MountainCamp because we have new campers and returning campers to build this community. But some things never change.

Traditions at MountainCamp continue to hold strong. The songs we sing, our closing ceremony, our love for field time are passed on to us by campers and staffers before us. It is fascinating to sit and talk with staff members and campers from decades ago about their experiences and MountainCamp traditions. While there have been changes over the years, the core stays the same. It's a wonderful thing.

Yes, MountainCamp is special. So special that you should not pass up the chance to advocate for MountainCamp. Are your children signed up for this summer? Do all of your friends know about MountainCamp? Maybe this is where they should send their children to camp? Does your congregation talk

about MountainCamp in youth group? Have you supported campers coming to camp through donations earmarked for MountainCamp? I hope you can answer "Yes" to one if not all of these questions.


Everyone who has been here before knows the magic, and it's time for us to share.

May 2015 Mountain Matters
Many Hands Peace Farm


Sustainability, Sustainable living, Sustainable food, Sustainable business and Sustainable relationships are what The Mountain is striving for. "The capacity to endure" has been the concept at the heart of the decisions we made in the past, and the decisions we are making for our future. A great example of this is The Mountain's  Many Hands Peace Farm
The farm is an important part of our worth; it feeds our body and our spirit. The Earth's soil embraces our hands and inspires us to act, believing in a better future for our planet, our community, and ourselves. Countless children and adults have had these concepts brought to life by our Farm Manager, Bill Hagamann, and his team working with them in the garden. I am thankful for the vision and gumption of our previous leaders who started the Many Hands Peace Farm, and the many hands who have kept it growing. Please enjoy this month's Mountain Matters as we look at our values in action at The Many Hands Peace Farm.

Ted D. Wisniewski

Meet the Staff of

Many Hands Peace Farm  


Farm Manager 
 Bill Hagemann 
Bill Hagemann, Farm Manager since 2014, is a native of Tuscaloosa, AL and a  graduate of Warren Wilson College. Bill graduated in 2013 with a double major in Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Studies with concentrations in Environmental Education and Sustainable Agriculture. In addition to being the first Farm Manager at The Mountain, Bill has worked with Americorp, Habitat For Humanity and Outward Bound programs. Bill's interest in The Mountain originated fifteen years ago with his junior high MountainCamp experience.
2015 Farm Intern, Matthew Whelan, grew up in Syracuse, NY and moved to Asheville, NC several months ago. He studied Anthropology at SUNY Oswego. While living in New York, Matthew worked various jobs including a painter's assistant, a library volunteer, an intern at a grassroots activism organization, and as an archaeological collection management assistant for Oswego's NAGPRA artifacts. More recently, Matt has worked as a self- taught web designer. A dream of Matt's is to one day live at an eco-village or other sustainability community. "The Mountain offers me a wonderful opportunity to both try that out and learn a great deal," says Matt.


2015 Farm Intern, Rachel Kinback, grew up just outside of Philadelphia near Valley Forge National Historic Park. Living in the Philly proper for the past 7 years, she attended college at the University of the Arts and then began working for The Barnes Foundation. While at UArts, Rachel obtained her BFA studying Craft with a concentration in Fiber/Textiles. After college Rachel traveled, curated a handful of art exhibitions and focused on a career within the museum realm. While working at the Barnes Foundation, Rachel enrolled in horticulture classes at the Foundation's arboretum. These classes ignited her interest in plants which led Rachel to pursue making a career move from the arts to the outdoors!  


 Many Hands Peace Farm 

Mission and History 



The Many Hands Peace Farm (MHPF) is an educational farm dedicated to improving The

Mountain's environmental sustainability while teaching interns, guests and MountainCamp youth the best practices of environmental education and sustainable agriculture.



In 1999, Trustees and supporters of The Mountain decided to purchase 12 acres of land located at the base of Little Scaly Mountain and adjacent to The Mountain's existing 100 acres. This additional portion of land, once cultivated as a cabbage patch, sat fallow until the idea for a garden sprouted nearly ten years later.  


The vision for a garden was to provide further educational experiences for guests, to improve environmental awareness and sustainability, and to produce locally grown, organic food for guests attending Mountain programs. The cabbage patch was renamed Many Hands Peace Farm (MHPF) and began its first season in 2010.


The Many Hands Peace Farm uses sustainable and non-chemical methods to supply flowers, herbs, and produce to The Mountain's Dining Hall, as well as educational programming for our guests. Many Hands Peace Farm facilities include an herb garden, a flower garden, a chicken coop and adjoining pasture, and a ¾ acre vegetable garden. 


MHPF's knowledgeable and experienced staff lead workshops and tours to meet group's 

specific interests and needs. Topics include: edible and medicinal wild plants, farm to table harvest and cooking, care of chickens in a pasture- based system, compost, crop

 rotation, garden bed preparation techniques, and sowing and transplanting crops.


Until 2014, MHPF was run by volunteers and short-­term stipend positions. In 2014, a full time Farm Manager was hired to manage and develop the farm. As we enter our second year with our paid Manager and compensated farm interns, we have begun a  Strategic Plan and a goal of fiscal sustainability.

MountainCamp Garden Workshop
New Interns,  Rachel and Matt 
love pulling weeds!

Ringing-In Spring With New Interns

The icy conditions of late winter could not keep our eager new farm interns away. Having their start date pushed back by one week, interns Matthew Whelan and Rachel Kinback arrived in early March. Wasting no time getting oriented, our interns spent their first days exploring, settling into their summer home and planting, planting, PLANTING seeds of wonderfully delicious greenery in the warmth of the Farm's Greenhouse. 


Both Matthew and Rachel consider themselves true "northerners." Rachel being from Philadelphia and Matt having lived in upstate New York for most of his life. Both were happy to escape the winter and head south. "The move to The Mountain has warmed me in more ways than one," states Rachel." The higher temperature has been a treat, but even more so is the feeling of community, support and over-all warmth I've experienced in just the short while I have been here."


Matt and volunteer, Jaime,  inoculate mushroom logs

Along with starting all the new plantings for the season, Garden Manager, Bill Hagemann has kept the interns busy learning an array of skills. Bill is constantly sharing his knowledge - teaching Matt and Rachel about the wild edibles found in the area, how to properly care for chickens, the dos and don'ts of composting, vermiculture, botany, garden vocabulary, as well as Bill's best farmer jokes... In addition to what is learned on site at The Many Hands Peace Farm, farm staff has pursued outside learning opportunities, attending both the Organic Growers School Annual Conference and the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville. More field trips are planned; and the farm staff actively participates in the local Eco-Forum held monthly at the UU Fellowship in Franklin, NC.

With so much to be enthused about on the farm, Matthew and Rachel have been asked to select a personal project to pursue during their time at The Mountain. This project should be of interest to them, benefit the MHPF, and have an educational element -be it a demonstration, a lesson that can be shared with others, or an essay/manual of the project's findings. 


Matthew has an affinity for mushrooms and has chosen to expand the MHPF's mushroom crop as his project. He will be working to set up a great deal of inoculated logs that should fruit mushrooms for The Mountain's Kitchen long after his internship has ended. In addition to his logs, which are great for producing large amounts of mushrooms, Matt is also interested in small-scale cultivation. His hope is to experiment with a variety of DIY mushroom gardens that can be easily taught to and recreated by anyone in in a private home.  


Rachel's interests lie in livestock. She has taken a great liking to the farm's chickens and thus has chosen high protein animal feed for her personal project. With an enthusiasm for building, Rachel has constructed a bin to attract Black Soldier Flies and breed their larvae to be fed to the chickens. With a successful colony of Black Soldier Flies, the MHPF will be able to save money by supplementing purchased feed with flies, and our chickens will be eating a healthy, natural, local food-stuff.

Working at The Mountain through the summer, our interns hope their efforts will be fruitful (pun intended). When asked what she hopes to gain from her internship experience, Rachel stated, "Every day I become more aware of the infinite knowledge there is to gain about our good green Earth. I know that my time working at The Many Hands Peace Farm will help me to better understand these natural graces, and aid in the cultivation of myself into a more aware and responsible steward to the land."

 What's Growing on the Farm? 


We've been hard at work on the farm. This year expect more tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, collards, kale, lettuce, beans, peas, and flowers (edible and cut). We're also trying carrots, hot peppers (jalapeño, cayenne, poblano, and ghost), brussels sprouts, radishes, and turnips, among others. Pumpkins are another new and exciting crop for us; and, we're hoping to grow enough for carving during SUUFI (Southeastern Unitarian Universalist Fall Institute).
Salad of wild edibles that overwintered in the greenhouse.


Wild foods are popping up everywhere, and we've been able to teach guests from the Elementary and Intermediate Cons, and the Easter Weekend group how to identify plants and which parts are edible. Plants taught included dandelion, chickweed, purple dead nettle, mallow, sheep sorrel, dock, comfrey, wild strawberry, and blue violet. Since then we've also seen lambsquarters, wood sorrel, purslane, soloman's seal and others.


New to the Farm 

Raspberries and Elderberries


Last summer Donn and Sandi Erickson, members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin, NC, and organizers of its monthly Eco-Forum, donated 10 raspberry and 6 elderberry plants. With help from last summer's ASCENDERs, farm staff planted the raspberries in a sheet mulch bed just uphill of the greenhouse, and planted the elderberries in the black locust grove between the greenhouse and the garden. We are happy to report that all of the plants lived through the winter and are growing vigorously. We look forward to our first crop of fresh, local, delicious berries this summer.

Happy Chickens Lay Tasty Eggs 


Happy chickens!

Here at the Many Hands Peace Farm we have many happy chickens! Currently, we have five Buff Orpington hens (golden colour), three Silver Laced Wyandotte hens (black and white speckled), six Plymouth Barred Rock hens (black and white banded), and a single white Bantam rooster. The chickens continue to be a highlight of The Mountain's youth conferences and the hens will be thrilled with all the attention they are bound to receive during Mountain Camp. The hens have been laying many eggs, the entirety of which are used in the Dining Hall here at The Mountain.


Welcome 2015 baby chicks! 

Our farm family continues to grow, and in late March ten new Australorp chicks were hatched and raised in our coop. Our interns helped to incubate and hatch the eggs we received from John Marshall at JS Farm in Linwood, North Carolina. 


"The baby chicks are growing up so fast," says Garden Intern Matt Whelan. They are now big enough to play outside of the confines of their brooder and have begun to explore and mingle with the adult chickens. Soon, we will place the chicks into a chicken tractor for them to get used to being outside, and to help clear grasses and other weeds from the fields - making our farmers into very happy campers.

Chick Fights and Love

I have had little love in my heart for chickens - that is until meeting the hens of the Many Hands Peace Farm.

It all began with egg-amazement during the dark cold days of winter. Our chickens, undaunted by the weather, were laying a dozen eggs a day. Upon learning that a hen creates an egg in a mere 24 hours, I was duly humbled by the creative venerable chicken!

The weather warmed, and in early March chicks began hatching-out in the MHPF's incubator. Then, I learned gestation for a chicken is a mere 21 days. Again, my level of respect rose substantially.

As the new chicks were being integrated with the existing flock, one chick was beaten-up by a BIG hen badly bruising and damaging a leg. I began visiting the chick fight victim while she was in the greenhouse "recovery room." Initially "Gimpy Leg" couldn't stand and didn't have much of an appetite. What she didn't lose was her voice! Everyday during my visit, she carried-on conversations a-chirping and a-cooing. "Of course it's possible to talk with a chicken!"

As days passed she began to eat, stand on one leg, and then hobble about with a awkward limp. Then, the day came when the greenhouse was empty, and I feared the worst. I hurried to the pen where the other chicks were housed and found 18-20 black chicks all looking exactly alike. Unable to distinguish one from another, I called tentatively, "Gimpy Leg are you in here?" I waited...and called again...dreading she may not have survived.

Then, I noticed to my surprise a little black chick with a frightful limp hobbling straight toward me. Without hesitation, she jumped into my arms and started a-chirping and a- cooing - picking-up right where we had left off the day before.

My initial egg-amazement turned to love.

Huldah XO



  A Big Thank You to Bob Weber 


The Many Hands Peace Farm would like to thank Bob Weber of Weber Tree Service Inc. for his volunteer service. So far, Bob has removed three trees which were hazardous and threatening buildings on our property, and has begun major pruning around our waste-water plant to improve ease of maintenance. He has also been training our interns in the maintenance and use of the chainsaw. "I'm still respectful of the chainsaw, but I'm not terrified of using it anymore," says Matt, one of our farm interns. Thanks to his efforts, the Many Hands Peace Farm now has many logs currently being used to grow mushrooms that will begin to fruit this summer. Bob's work has been professional, efficient, and safe, and he has shown great care for the health and aesthetics of the trees he has worked on.  For more information contact Bob Weber at 828-526-1777 or by email at [email protected].

Many Hands Peace Farm Wish List


If you have any farm or garden equipment collecting dust, let us know by emailing bill.hagemann@ mountaincenters.org. We'd be glad to put it to good use. Below is a list of tools, equipment, and supplies we are looking for - though it's not comprehensive.

Thank you for the help and support.

  • Scythe
  • Digging forks
  • Broad fork
  • Hard-tine rakes
  • Scuffle hoes
  • Beekeeping equipment (hive boxes, bee suits, hive tools, smoker etc.)
  • Solar powered electric fence (for chickens)
  • A reliable tiller (BCS preferred)
  • Mesh bags (for harvesting/washing lettuce mix)
  • Flats for soil blocks
  • Fish tank aerator (for making compost tea)
  • Fencing/trellising materials
  • Chipper/shredder
  • Grow lights (for starting seeds indoors during cold weather)
  • Pipe bender (to make hoops for row cover. 4' beds)
  • Electrical conduit (to make hoops for row cover)
  • Greenhouse tape
  • Landscape fabric (heavy duty)
  • Remay
  • Mushroom log inoculation tool
  • Farming/gardening books
  • Harvest knives
  • Chainsaw chaps and helmets
  • 5 gallon buckets (food grade)
  • Truck (not stick shift)
  • Top soil or fill dirt (for hugelkultur beds)
  • Seeds (all types, less than 3 years old)
  • Blueberry or blackberry sprouts/cuttings
  • Perennial flower plants/cuttings
  • Logs 4' long less than 6 months old for mushroom production (not pine or black locust)
  • Bees wax or other food grade wax for mushroom logs
  • Dry leaves, straw bales, or wood chips (for mulch, mushroom production, or chicken litter)






The Mountain
Speaks to All of Us


"The trees upon the mountain make a rustling in the dark;They speak to us in many tongues - i n leaf and seed and bark." - Marie Mellinge r


The seasons are unfolding around us. The sun is rising higher in the sky; the view from Meditation Rock has turned from barren to the lime green wash of new trees leafing-out. Marking the passage of time by seasons is an ancient practice that seems quite natural here on Little Scaly Mountain. Reminiscent of the Celtic calendar's veneration of trees, we live in an ancient grove of dwarf white oak. 
White Oa
This year we're using the dwarf white oak tree to symbolize our donors' Time (volunteerism), Talent (advocacy), and Treasure (financial support and gifts-in-kind). The Mountain's Tower, with proverbial thermometer, is depicting progress toward reaching our 2015 Annual Campaign goal of 240,000. 

As we approach the end of April, how are we doing meeting our annual goals? Because of you, Mountain donors, the marker on The Tower has risen to 36,895 (15% of our Annual Campaign); our oak tree is measuring a remarkable 32% donor giving.


You've heard it  before, and we never get tired of saying,  "Thank you, thank you!"

The Mountain is here because of you and for you, and is sustained through your love and generosity.

"Thank you!"



Although the vernal equinox occurred a month ago, spring on Little Scaly has just arrived. Blooms on the apple tree grace the Lodge's deck, the V-shaped wings of turkey vultures float on mountain thermals off Meditation Rock, the grey vireo built a nest under the eaves, and everywhere there is a magical appearance of 
Jack in the Pulpit
These early-blooming wildflowers are called ephem-erals: trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, bluets, little brown jug, wild oats, toothwort, wood anemone, trout lily, bloodroot, and many types of violets, to name just a few. 
Prostrate Bluets by Walden Cabin
Ephemerals flower and fruit when soil moisture and nutrients are high with spring rain and decomposing l eaves; then, quickly they disappear back into dormancy as leaves fill-in the canopy.


They must grow, flower, be pollinated and produce seeds before sunlight is blocked by leafing trees. To accomplish these processes in a short amount of time, ephemerals have evolved to attract pollinators by "bright colors, enticing scents, nectar guides on their petals..." 

Red-Spotted Newt


Other plants, like wild

ginger, have seeds with small "bumps" containing oils that attract ants. The bumps, eliasomes, are consumed, but the shell, too hard for the ants to eat, is discarded. "This process is called "myrmechochory," which literally means "ant farming." Take a moment to marvel at the ephemerals hundreds of thousands of years of adaptation.


Hiking on The Mountain yesterday with devoted volunteer, Harriet Lawrence, we saw: prostrate bluets by Walden Cabin, four jack-in-the-pulpit just down from The Lodge where there are also sprawling beds of common blue violets. 

Painted Trillium


Further down Padgett's Path we were surprised by a beautiful group of painted trillium; just below the juncture to Chinquipin and Glen's Falls, we saw the yellow bells of wild oats. Stands of red and nodding trillium are seen beyond the Craft Barn


Blooming wild strawberries and the yellow blossom of common cinquefoil cover the dam by our pond.


The Mountain's forest changes overnight this time of year with new surprises around each bend of the trail.

Huldah - "Come play in the forest!"   


 Forest  Bathing

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese term that means "forest bathing." The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine... "
The "magic" behind forest bathing boils down to the naturally produced allelochemic substances known as phytoncides, which are kind of like pheromones for plants. Their job is to help ward off pesky insects and slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. 
When humans are exposed to phytoncides, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress  and boost the growth of cancer-fighting white blood cells. 
Mountain Hiking on the Highlands Plateau 
May 17-22 (3 or 5 Day)
June 1-4 


  Harriet Lawrence 
Volunteer Extraordinaire 


After too long an absence, postcards are now available again featuring fifteen different scenes of The Mountain.
Extra-large note cards, with envelopes, are also on sale featuring iconic photos from around The Mountain. 

Stamps for mailing both regular and postcard style can be bought for the asking.
Furthermore, two illustrated nature booklets, specific to our property, have been re-published- The Trees upon The Mountain  and
Wildflowers, Ferns and Grasses of The Mountain. Written in the 1980's by Marie Mellinger, one of the first naturalist presenters in the early years of The Mountain, they offer not only useful descriptions but also interesting insights on the uses of many plants by both Cherokee and European inhabitants.
So the next time you return to The Mountain, be sure to look for these and other returnees in the Office Gift Shop.
Editors Note: 
Harriet Lawrence is a Mountain volunteer who is joyously welcomed back from year to year. This year, Harriet took on the project of re-stocking the Gift Shop. She chose photographs and designed new postcards, and re-created two books on the flora and fauna native to The Mountain. 
Harriet first came to The Mountain to an Elderhostel program in 2002. She has returned every year since as a volunteer staying anywhere from a few weeks to five months. Each visit results in "Harriet contributions" - efforts that help to make The Mountain a better place..
For those who might enjoy a two week to five month vacation at The Mountain and would like to volunteer in return for room and board, call Ted Wisniewski to express your interest. He would love to hear from you.  Volunteers of all ages are welcome and may work in the office, kitchen, housekeeping or Mountain maintenance.

In Memory 

Friends of The Mountain


J uanita S. Polk


Juanita 95, of Indianapolis, Ind. and Brevard, NC passed away March 20, 2015. A memorial service celebrating her life will be held on June 19, 2015 in Indianapolis


Juanita and her husband, Robert E. Polk, were among the founding members of UUTC Church in Brevard. She was also a Charter Member of The Mountain.

F. Lewis Walker
March 30,1945-
January 17,2015 
Lewis and his wife Christine have been longtime members of The Mountain. They had many joyful visits and enjoyed bring friends for hiking and renewal.   
Lewis and Christine
were married on the Lodge deck on a Memorial Day weekend.

Lewis was President
/Board Chair in 1995. He also served the District as President and he and Christine were key players in starting the UU congregation in Glen Allen, VA.

Editors Note:  This is a new feature of Mountain Matters. If you would like to recognize someone please send the article as you would like it to read by the 15th of the month. 


The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center | 828 526 5838 | [email protected] | http://www.mountaincenters.org
3872 Dillard Road
P.O. Box 1299
Highlands, NC 28741