Protection Spotlight

Creative Collaboration

Historic Whippoorwill Dairy Farm is Permanently Protected

Whippoorwill Dairy Farm, a beautiful historic Burke County farm, is now permanently protected thanks to a unique partnership between Foothills Conservancy and Fonta Flora Brewery.

With funding from private donors and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Foothills Conservancy has purchased the majority of the scenic farm, approximately 40 acres that border Paddy’s Creek, and is donating the land to the adjoining Lake James State Park later this year.

The farm’s backdrop is the beautiful scenery of Shortoff Mountain, Linville Gorge and Pisgah National Forest. Paddy’s Creek flows along the back section of the property, and into Lake James.  Rocks from the creek were used to build walls of the structures on the farm.  The parcel that will be added to Lake James State Park also contains an important piece of American history: a segment of the National Park Service’s Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.

L-R: Andrew Kota of Foothills Conservancy; Todd Boera, Mark Bennett and David Bennett of Fonta Flora Brewery; Nora Coffey, Lake James State Park Superintendent

Fonta Flora Brewery, a local craft brewery in Morganton, has purchased 8 acres of the former dairy farm fronting Highway 126, including most of the old stacked-stone barns and structures, to expand its operations with  a new farmhouse brewery and will convey a permanent conservation easement on the property to Foothills Conservancy. Fonta Flora plans to restore the buildings, placing a priority on keeping the old stone walls, built from Paddy’s Creek river stones.

“The Whippoorwill Dairy Farm is one of the most historic and scenic sections of the landscape around Lake James,” says Foothills Conservancy Stewardship Director Andrew Kota.  “Adding most of the farm to Lake James State Park will extend protection and public access along Paddy’s Creek. This acquisition effort is a great example of the creative collaborations that can form around protecting our region’s special places. Fonta Flora’s mission is focused on agriculture and sustainability, and they depend upon clean water, so having the brewery expand to this historic land is a natural fit.”

Funding for Foothills Conservancy’s Whippoorwill purchase included a challenge contribution of $172,000 from Fred and Alice Stanback, which required a two-to-one match. The match was met with a generous leadership gift from George and Ann Costello combined with individual donations from Mike and Betsy Blair, Javier and Yngrid Chacon, Andy and Bridgette Davis, Joseph and Katharine Lagedrost, Dan and Lisa Oberer, and Charles and Jerelen Ohrt. Grants from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Mountain Mini-Grant Program completed the project’s matching funding.

Foothills Conservancy Associate Director Andrew Kota stands on the now-conserved Whippoorwill Dairy Farm property with the face of Shortoff Mountain above the Linville Gorge visible in the distance.