Coweeta Heritage Center

Otto, North Carolina, United States

  • Last updated: June 13, 2018 (2 seconds ago)
  • Listing created on: October 28, 2013

Mission Statement

CHC’s mission is to teach strategies for self-reliant living in order to reduce impacts on our environment. This is best expressed by the term Voluntary Simplicity or learning to live with less. As I mentioned the second goal is to help heal the earth and each other. Eventually this might include becoming a retreat center and offer programming for those interested. The organic garden here produces lots of greens and other produce which helps provide healthy local food for our community. The 1/5 acre garden can produce as much as 50 pounds of salad mixes, greens, onion, garlic and more weekly. The garden is also a resource for those interested in learning to care for the earth and heal oneself through organically grown foods and working intimately with the environment. More on what it means to come here:
Coweeta is a place of healing. It pure spring waters, the sounds of water flowing, birds singing, clouds sailing by are music to your soul. Coweeta is a place to get lost and found; tucked away in an intimate valley with little human activity. It is the perfect place to rediscover who you are and your place in the natural world. It is a place where cell phones don’t work and your watch may lose time. It is a place to park your car and walk.

Coweeta’s beyond organic gardens teach you to nurture yourself and the earth. Each year tons of leaves are incorporated into the soil to feed the hordes of micro and macro organisms that feed the plants that are grown. Nourish your body and spirit with food you help grow and harvest.

Coweeta’s gardens also help feed the local community and this is the perfect place to connect with folks and share the bounty of the earth and invite them to come to Coweeta to visit. Coweeta is a place of sharing.

Coweeta is a place to gather your energies to do the work that nurtures your spirit and contributes to the good in the world whatever this may mean for you.

Coweeta is a place of spirit, in the trees, rocks, animals, water and air. Drink in the beauty and spirit here to nourish your soul. Quiet your mind and be open to the spirit and energies of life around you.

Coweeta is also a place to engage in meaningful work. With your hands you can help create a place of shelter, paths to walk on, beds to grow healthy food in, contributing to a welcoming community. Yes, this takes work and some sweat and tears at times.

Coweeta is a place that will grow in you and you will grow in it. Caring for something means that you become part of it. This can be as simple as picking up branches that have fallen on roads or paths, building a rock wall that will last a century or more, gathering leaves for the garden each year to enrich the soil, or just sitting quietly in a spot you have chosen.

Coweeta is a place to learn new things and apply what you learn to doing the “good work” of living simply so that others can simply live. It is a place to learn to feed yourself from the earth.

Coweeta is also a place of cleansing. Of giving away habits that may keep you from living as free and healthy a life as you can. Let the peace and quiet and companionship of the world fill your heart. Give yourself entirely to the earth and it will fill your needs.

Community Description

Coweeta Heritage Center/Talking Rock Farm is a school, working farm and homestead. Our goal at CHC is to help preserve the cultural history and natural beauty of this area. A second goal is to become a healing community for both the earth and each other. I am looking for long term volunteers or permanent members. Please contact me if you are interested. I will consider individuals as well as families.

CHC are located in the Nantahalla Mountains of the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 10 miles south of the town of Franklin, North Carolina (120 miles N.E. of Atlanta, GA and 70 miles west of Asheville, NC). The center’s 32 acres lie in the heart of a small valley with a stream fed by numerous springs and surrounded by national forest. The stream provides water for our hydro-electric system. We are off-the-grid. The area is home to wild turkey, deer, bear, and has one of the largest diversities of plants anywhere in the world. Huge chestnut stumps, remains of 1800 log cabins, mill raceways, spring houses, century old farming roads, and old still sites, are reminders of a people and a way of life based on an intimate knowledge of the environment and those skills needed to survive.

Paul is a former teacher of Industrial Arts and Technology Education and is well versed in woodworking. He is working on developing appropriate building techniques that incorporate the log construction styles of the past, as well as alternative energy systems. The center has its own saw mill to provide lumber for building projects which may eventually include cabins, a workshop, and a small conference center for retreats and programming.

Daily life includes organic gardening, aquaculture (trout), basic building skills, wildcrafting, preserving foods, off the grid living, permaculture, crafts (wooden spoon production), saw milling, and other practical living skills for sustainable living. I currently don’t have goats but would be willing to have them again with others to help care for them. The chickens went with my wife. I would like to have chickens again with others help.

My current goal is to invite others who would be interested in starting an intentional community. I’m open to discussing what this might be and hearing the ideas of other interested folks. It would be a work in progress and I am trying not to have an agenda starting out. Temporary housing would be needed if other wanted to join. Permanent housing could be built as needed.

My focus has been and will continue to be on education, growing healthy food to share with the community through our tailgate market and health food stores. I currently work with the county summer camp program teaching wood working with kids. It is lots of fun. This summer I will teach with the Little Middle Folk School at John C. Campbell Folkschool. This will be my 13th year doing this. I also participate in heritage festivals, the Foxfire Museum, and craft shows. I recently led a program on Humanure composting with our Eco Forum monthly at the Unitarian Fellowship in Franklin. I have conducted tours of our property and gardens for many years.

I have suspended our very short term volunteer program until others become involved to help with the program. It has been a real blessing as well as a challenge to work with many young people who have come and stayed with us over the past 12 years. I am open to year-long internships with the possibility of joining as a permanent member. I hope to have short term volunteers in the future. I welcome folks who would like to visit.


  • Type(s): Ecovillage (organized around ecology and sustainability), Cohousing (individual homes within group owned property), Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling), Spiritual or Religious Community
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship, Organization, Resource, or Network, WWOOF’ing, Guest Farming, Festivals, Conferences, Events
  • Location: Rural


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 32 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Lots to build on, RV’s for temporary housing or any the above that might apply
  • Current Number of Residences: 2
  • Planned number of residences: 6
  • Planned Residence Types: Single-family homes, Multi-family homes, Room(s) in a house or building, Tiny house, Yurt, tee-pee, dome, treehouse, or tent, Mobile homes, RV’s, converted buses, Natural built structues, Lots to build on
  • Housing Provided: Work-exchange, Included in Membership
  • Land owned by: ideally the Land would be held in trust and not owned by members.
  • Additional Comments:

    There is now a guest trailer for visitors or potential members. A saw mill and available trees could be utilized to build. Also, lots of rock from the creek.


  • Adult Members: 1
  • Percent Women: 0%
  • Percent Men: 100%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    contact us through IC

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    .There is an initial required 3-week visitation (or longer if needed). At that point, the community and the visitor decides if they want to make a commitment as a provisional member for one year (or less if one leaves). After the one year provisional membership they become a permanent member with all rights and responsibilities.

  • Additional Comments:

    To maintain permanent membership, members must meet yearly contributions to the community through work, financial contribution or a combination of both. The community provides basic needs of housing, basic food items, utilities. The yearly contribution is currently based on the federal poverty guideline for family #.


  • Decision Making: By a board, council, group of elders, or leadership group
  • Identified Leader: Yes
  • Leadership Core Group: No
  • Additional Comments:

    To be developed by individual members.


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Shared Income: Partial share of income
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes (some debt)
  • Additional Comments:

    Ideally the community will generate income from a variety of sources. Currently, that is through farmer’s markets selling produce and wooden spoons. Members can also make loans to the community for building projects. These loans can then be used to meet yearly contributions or when one is unable to contribute through work. If a member leaves loans are refundable.

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are totally off grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 50-75%
  • Energy sources: Solar, Hydro-Electric
  • Planned renewable energy generation: Almost All, around 90%
  • Current food produced: Up to 25%
  • Planned food produced: Between 26-49%
  • Food produced locally: Between 26-49%


  • Common Facilities: Garden(s), Greenhouse(s), Vehicle Share, Workshop, Swimming pond or pool, Tractor & Farm Equipment, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, both the community and individuals provide it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Not good for most people.
  • Shared meals: About once a week
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Paleo (no grains, dairy, processed foods, or legumes), Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Vegetarian Only (no animal meat; dairy and eggs okay) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegetarian, Mostly Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, Opportunivore (dumpster diving, nature harvesting, etc.), Raw or Mostly Raw, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Tobacco Use: No, this community does not permit tobacco use.
  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Eclectic (integrates multiple religious or spiritual beliefs), Paganism or Earth Religions
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Additional Comments

Coweeta Heritage Center is reforming and the local community offers many interesting opportunities for new members to become involved with.

Photo Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)

Community Affiliations

The Franklin Tailgate market, Macon County Bee Keepers Association, Cowee School, Foxfire Museum, Macon County Heritage Association and more


self reliance, sustainability, organic gardening, permaculture, off the grid, education, simplicity