NBC Nightly News Features Olivette Riverside Community & Farm


Olivette Riverside Community & Farm received well-earned recognition on December 17 when it was featured as part of an NBC Nightly News segment about the growing popularity of agrihoods. Building a community of new homes alongside a working farm is a budding trend that pairs residential and agricultural life. The development model, known as “new urbanism” or agrihoods, is already in use in about 200 areas around the U.S., but there’s nothing like it in Buncombe County or western North Carolina. A 346-acre planned community along the French Broad River, 6.7 miles north of downtown Asheville, NC, Olivette Riverside is coming to life just as the founders envisioned. According to founder-developer Scott Austin, “The agrihood at Olivette will provide a community-wide fabric that encourages a healthy way of living, connects residents with the organic food they eat, as well as promotes fellowship with their neighbors by offering social interaction, education, and the nourishment of living surrounded by nature.”  

Plough to Pantry…plus Blueberries!

When the Woodfin, NC, property was under contract in December 2014, Austin and his colleagues, under the leadership of founder Tama Dickerson, conducted a 3-day community-wide Master Planning and Design Charrette to ensure the development went forward with attention to  environmental impact and other issues of import. Next, the Olivette began negotiating with the owners of an adjacent 46-acre family farm and purchased what is now Olivette Farm. They tore down the gate that was part of the original planned development and replaced it with blueberry bushes planted as a statement of their intentions to live in harmony with nature. In 2015, they hired Justin Aiello to run the Olivette Farm, which includes a thriving CSA, supplies produce to multiple upscale Asheville restaurants and several farmers markets, and will one day wind up in the kitchens of Olivette residents. “In addition to our four-season farm, where we use organic farming practices, we're planting a pear and a persimmon orchard and other landscape edibles,” Justin explained. “In 2017, we sold our Asian pears at local farmers markets. Eventually, we'll assist residents in planning and planting community garden plots, offer educational gardening workshops, and host volunteer work days for those who want to get their hands dirty.” (To learn more about Justin and the Olivette Farm, please visit http://www.olivettefarm.com.)

Pollinating a Lifestyle for All Ages

Farm life and home life are designed to feed and inspire one another. Currently, 10 beehives on the Olivette property help pollinate the farm and provide a local source of honey. “We have four horses, a donkey, and chickens grazing on the property, and soon we’ll have goats to chomp back invasive plants,” Austin reported. “Our long-term plan includes a private school that will allow us the opportunity to use the farm as a learning tool for kids and grown-ups alike. And we're casting a wide net in terms of lot and home size to attract a socio-economically diverse group of homeowners. We’re 'growing' a community, not a land investment. We’re creating something we all love, and we’re counting on other people to love it, too.” 

Sustainable Living is Beautiful Living

Clearly farm-to-table living is a defining aspect of Olivette’s agrihood, but there are other key elements of the development: Site planning and design are vital components at Olivette, which means that environmental stewardship and the preservation of the natural beauty of the land and waterways are carefully balanced.  

To date, more than a dozen homes in Phase One at the Riverside and Rivercrest locations are either under contract, under construction, nearly completed, in architectural review, or move-in ready. The Broadview, the first spec home at Riverside, was voted Viewers Choice in the 2017 Parade of Homes event, sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, announced on October 20. Located at 26 River Run, the home is the creative collaboration of Olivette developer Scott Austin, architect Michael McDonough, builder Christopher Fox, and designer Allison Smith. Broker Elliot Nailen, a HERS energy consultant, worked with the team to ensure the home is energy efficient. Reflecting the vision of this new agrihood, every aspect of The Broadview’s design focuses on sustainable living, quality craftsmanship, access to nature, and openness to neighbors. Although Olivette’s vision is one of fostering community and a sustainable agrihood, this does not mean a development of cookie cutter homes. “Our goal is an overall community blend, but a Dutch Colonial can fit beautifully next door to a contemporary home, as long as both homes reflect high quality in design and construction,” Austin emphasized.” Architectural reviews provide oversight to this aesthetic blend, ensure that efficient and practical building methods and materials are utilized, and that green spaces are protected.

Honoring the Natural World Today & for the Future

Austin acknowledges that Steven Nygren, founder and developer at Serenbe, an agrihood in the Chattahoochee Hill county south of Atlanta, was an important mentor in the planning of Olivette. However, the unique location and terrain of Olivette in western North Carolina will give this agrihood its defining characteristics. For example, Olivette founder Tama Dickerson decides which areas of the property will be wildlife corridors and what is going to be protected. He explained, “The land plan I oversee is designed to ensure that the development honors the land long term, including designating natural spaces that encourage residents to interact with the water, forest, and land, as well as with the other inhabitants that live there.” Projects, such as the labyrinth, a private river island, several miles of hiking trails, and the 7-acre riverfront beach, are tangible examples of his vision. He is also creating designated places to interact with the river and creeks, which he calls Blue Mind Points, and places to interact with the forest, called Green Mind Points. “To me, an agrihood can connect us directly back to our relationship with the Earth. It can remind us of the source of our food. It can allow us to rebuild our soil, and allow a community to have the fresh, high-quality food right outside our back door,” Dickerson concluded.

According to founder Allison Smith, Director of Sales at Olivette, the benefits of an agrihood can be global, as well as local. She believes that “Although living in an agrihood benefits individuals through enhanced lifestyle, social connections, and increased health and fitness, perhaps the most important benefits occur on a global level. When considering the unsubsidized global impact of our individual food choices, choosing to eat local whenever possible—or food grown within a 50 mile radius of home—results in a significant reduction in the actual cultural, socio-economic, and environmental impact of the foods we eat.”   

And you thought an agrihood was just a trendy word for a nice development surrounding a farm?

This Could Change Your Life

If you care about the quality of the food you eat and would like to be involved in growing it…

If you dream of strolling or biking down the road to your community’s year-round garden for the day’s produce…

If you and your family would like to live in close connection to nature and play in the great outdoors…

If you want to get to know the interesting people in the house next door…

If the stewardship of the Earth is one of your core values…

If the sustainability and craftsmanship of your home are important to you…

If the mountains of western North Carolina call to you…

 …then Olivette Riverside Community & Farm may be your kind of neighborhood!


For more information, visit https://www.olivettenc.com


Allison Smith