A turn-of-the-century mountain homestead site lies across the creek behind the school, on school property. Thus far, a smokehouse has been completed, and a cabin is in progress. A garden area has also been established, and apple trees and grapevines have been planted. Students harvest fruits and vegetables and learn to can soup and preserves.
The homestead is expected to take several years to complete, with the work done by students, faculty, staff, and community members. In the process of creating the homestead, students learn many traditional skills used by the settlers in construction and maintenance.
Along with the smokehouse and cabin, the homestead plans include a grist mill, a root cellar, a wood shed, an orchard, the homestead garden, and other necessities found on a mountain farm. Once complete, the facilities will serve as an outdoor living history classroom, a setting for music and storytelling events, and a tourist attraction during the Indian Summer Festival.
Local Studies Mountain MarkeT
For each annual Indian Summer Festival, the Local Studies class prepares homemade fried apple pies, wild fox grape and Concord grape jellies, strawberry jam, and apple butter. Money raised at the Mountain Market helps to fund the Mountain Heritage Program.
K-12 Sustainable School Garden
In the spring of 2019, Woody Gap will offer its first course in sustainable agriculture and will build the first phase of a raised bed school garden. Over several years our "field of dreams" will expand to become a school and market garden and a focal point for students studying not only sustainable agriculture but also ag marketing and ag business and leadership. Students will grow produce and develop products for the local farmers market, the Suches Country Market. We are studying the feasibility and a timeline for adding small livestock on a section of the field, where fencing adds protection that we do not have at the homestead site. Students in grades K–12 all participate in garden-based activities, and our older students often work with younger ones on garden-based lessons.
Because we know that students learn by doing, students engage in hands-on learning throughout their educations. They design, they build, they investigate, they present, they grow together.