Project #753435 Andy Harris Rd, Rockford, TN 37853, USA
Property Type: Working Farm
This 318 acres farm was placed under conservation easement by Gail Harris in 2009. The property is located in Blount County, Tennessee. In 2017, this property was conveyed to Foothills and that same year became the location for FLC’s office headquarters.
As has been true for over 200 years, the majority of the property continues as a working farm. Currently the farm is under lease by a local farm family who continues to care for the farm, raise a variety of crops and maintain pasture and hay fields for their cattle. The FLC offices are now in Gail and Andy Harris’ original home and Gail resides nearby on the property.
Generous areas of mature native woodlands are spread around the property supporting diverse flora and fauna. These areas consist of primarily drier upland habitats over rocky, karst terrain. Sinkholes are common and even one large cave is on the property. Mature hardwoods, in particular oaks and hickories, dominate the overstory greatly benefiting a variety of wildlife. Ash trees were also prevalent until recently, however most have died due to infestations of the emerald ash borer. American beech are scattered in more mesic locations and add their beauty and unique character to the forest. Invasive exotic plants are dominant in some areas and so far, staff has made great progress near the office in controlling Chinese privet and bush honeysuckle.
Fresh water is abundant throughout the farm. Below the wooded bluffs on the western boundary flows the scenic Little River with its origins in the Smoky Mountains. The river is extremely popular with recreationists for fishing, boating and swimming. Nails Creek bisects the property then soon joins the Little River just off the property. A spring fed pond is near the headquarters which, as of 2017, includes a heron rookery and has now increased to 3 nests! Wood ducks also breed on the pond and staff added a box to encourage them to stick around. A spring near Nails Cr. Rd, historically a wagon road to the mountains, is said to have been a source of fresh water for travelers.
Staff continues to “nest” and enjoy adding our touch to the landscape through various habitat gardening and landscape projects and including a bluebird trail of 10 nest boxes.
Protecting and enhancing these important resources for the future, including the Harris dream, will continue to benefit the natural as well as man-made communities and occupy staff for long into the future.