March 5, 2019 (Highlands, NC) Old Edwards Hospitality Group announces the appointment of Matthew Clayton as head farmer for its new agrihood, GlenCove by Old Edwards. The 160-acre community-currently under development in the Norton area of Cashiers, NC-will include a working farm with a trout pond, animals and a community shared agriculture program.
"Farmer Matt" is perfectly poised to bring the agrihood vision to life. His last three years have been spent managing the farm at Serenbe, a wellness community outside of Atlanta, which also features a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in its farm program. Matthew and his wife, Kali ran the 25-acre Serenbe Farms-a USDA Certified Organic farm-while working with chefs in Serenbe's restaurants, as well as providing for a 30-week, 125-member CSA program each year.
It was while giving a farm tour at Serenbe that Matthew met Richard Delany, president of Old Edwards Hospitality Group and one of the minds behind GlenCove. "Richard invited me to see property under development in the Norton area," he says. And he was smitten. "There is so much potential here, and it is thrilling to be on the ground floor. To do what I love AND raise my family in the mountains was too good an opportunity to pass up," says Matthew. He is especially enthusiastic to parlay his farm experience into farm design and implementation. Matthew feels that is where the real opportunity for success begins.
Matthew was raised on his parents and grandparents' large-scale vegetable farms, still in operation today. As a young adult, Matthew moved to Bozeman, Montana to get away from farm life, but he is happy with the path his life has taken. After all, he met his wife, Kali, in Montana. After spending a couple of years in other jobs and farming on the side, Matt and Kali left Montana and bought their first farm in De Soto, WI. When Kali was expecting their second child, they decided to move back to Kali's hometown in Georgia-for a better climate and a better economy for farmers, with year-round growing opportunities. She was a neuroscience major that had just been accepted into a doctoral program at Georgia State University, but soon decided that life on a farm beat life in a lab and joined Matthew on the farm.
A fourth-generation farmer from Madison Wisconsin, Matthew has been drawn to the Highlands area since his first visit. "We had been looking for a vacation home in North Georgia for the past couple of years. Then we found Highlands. This area offers amazing mountain views and access to the wilderness that's hard to find in this part of the country." An avid outdoorsman, Matthew called in for this interview from the trail. He enjoys the opportunities that Western North Carolina offers to backpack, canoe, and even hunt. "My family has always hunted to fill their freezer with natural meats… for subsistence."
When asked about his vision for the community gardens, Matthew says that it will be an exciting collaboration with Old Edwards Executive Chef Chris Huerta, and ultimately tailored to fit the desires of the future GlenCove residents. "People feel connected to agriculture in many ways. For some, they want to eat blueberries off the bush in their yard like they did at their grandma's house. (Wild blueberries grow in profusion at GlenCove.) Others want to get their hands dirty and take part in the gratification of growing their own food or chopping their own firewood. Other people want to see a rainbow of colors all on one plate, and know it was grown without any harmful pesticides. These philosophies will all be part of what guides our goals at Glencove."
Passing on his knowledge to the next generation has always been a priority in Matt's community farm work. From teaching educators how to build school gardens to hosting school groups weekly for planting and harvest lessons, it is this sense of purpose that will mold Matthew's efforts as he creates an experience-driven CSA farm and garden at GlenCove. He is not yet sure what livestock will be on site, or their designated contribution to the food chain, but says that animals can play many important roles in the ecosystem whether they are raised as food or not. His experience with pasture-raised chickens and pigs could bring opportunities for fresh eggs and pork to GlenCove.
Farmer Matt says he is especially passionate about reconnecting people to where their food comes from and the joy they can get from growing it themselves. This father of two is looking forward to crafting a community where members can enjoy high-end produce in the low-key environment of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina.
ABOUT OLD EDWARDS HOSPITALITY GROUP (www.oldedwardsinn.com/HospitalityGroup)
Old Edwards Hospitality Group (OEHG) owns and operates a variety of accommodation options on the western North Carolina Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. In addition to accommodations, OEHG offers world-class spa, shopping, dining, golf and special event venues.