Olivette is a 411-acre planned community and historic farm, located along the French Broad River, just 6.7 miles from downtown Asheville. An agrihood community is an alternative to the traditional neighborhood model, centering the community around a working farm. Olivette is home to a biodiverse vegetable, fruit and flower farm. The community also provides residents with seven acres of riverfront beach, a large private river island, several miles of walking trails, community-wide geothermal heating and cooling, community gardens, a pavilion and fire-circle amphitheater, Little Free Libraries, a bike-sharing program, and fiber-to-home broadband internet access.
The process of planning Olivette has been and continues to be thorough and thoughtful, and many extraordinary people have contributed to the vision. Our inspiration comes from the tireless work of Asheville visionaries, historians, educators, artists, farmers, architects, planners and community builders. A number of books have informed our vision for the community — in particular, A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Murray Silverstein, and Sara Ishikawa; Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols; Sustainable Happiness by Sarah van Gelder; The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner; and The French Broad by Wilma Dykeman.
We envision a community in which our interactions with water, nature, food, community and lifelong learning are seamless and foster sustainable living. It’s our vision to create a replicable model for developing healthy, connected communities using the best available practices that align with our core values of sustainability, community, family, education and happiness.
Honoring Olivette’s history is just one of our core values, but it is fundamental to everything we do. It’s difficult to put into context the age of the French Broad River. It is older than one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, which is why it meanders across the Blue Ridge instead of along it, flowing from south to north and then off to the west before merging with the Holston River near Knoxville, Tennessee. The Cherokee and other area native peoples made their home along the French Broad and in the adjacent forests, living in harmony with the fertile flood plains and abundant fisheries — creating thriving and connected communities. Early European settlers eventually used the river basin as a path to bring livestock and harvests to market, passing within a few hundred feet of Olivette. For several decades, frequent trains stopped on the property at Olivette Station until passenger service was discontinued in the mid-20th century. The land that makes up Olivette and Olivette Farm was used mainly for pasturing animals, hunting, foraging and as a small family farm. Now, we are building a new kind of community — one that looks forward but is propelled by the rich history of the place we call Olivette.
Well-being comes from an active mind, in addition to an active body, and there are many opportunities for lifelong learning at Olivette. We are working with local educators to bring a K-8 school to the property that will provide opportunities for residents to share their experience and expertise with area children. Shared facilities will be used for farm education, health and wellness classes, book clubs, cooking classes, art instruction and much more. Throughout the community we will place informational markers that highlight native and edible plant species, animal habitats, area history, geology and geography. In addition, our critter cams will capture wildlife in motion in our conservation easements, and our weather station will contribute to the invaluable store of climate data. Finally, Little Free Libraries have been placed in convenient locations at neighborhood crossroads, make reading fun and accessible for residents of all ages.