The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Board of Agriculture and Agricultural Experiment Station were all
established by a legislative act in 1877.
The initial goal was to study crop nutrition and growth, as well as
1885 the Board of Agriculture began purchasing property and machinery to establish
field testing stations or “test farms” throughout the state. This allowed for more extensive study of
farming practices, including crops, fertilizers, and soil type, as well as
livestock and poultry.
In 1905 the North Carolina Department of Agriculture purchased 290
acres for a
test farm on the west side of the French Broad River and north of Fodderstack Mountain in the Blantyre area. Studies in crop rotation included corn,
wheat, red clover, rye and oats.
Fertilizer tests used potash, phosphoric acid, nitrogen and lime. The Blantyre farm also harvested and sold
timber. In addition, they had a small
number of sheep and pigs.
The farm had 16 acres of orchards on Little Fodderstack with a
variety of apples, peaches, cherries and plums.
There were 500 apples trees that were particularly productive. Pruning and spraying trees, curing and
preventing disease, and packing and marketing the fruit were all part of the
educational component at the farm.
The 1907 Soil
Survey of Transylvania County, North Carolina by W. Edward Hearn is
a valuable resource for information on soil types and agricultural practices
within the county in the early 20th century. It also contains a map of soil types and identifies
communities and roads from the period. Both
are available online or print copies are available in the North Carolina Room
at the Transylvania County Library.
The U.S. Weather Bureau assisted
North Carolina in establishing weather stations on test farms, including in Blantyre
in 1911. The purpose was to study
thermal belts and the suitability of raising specific fruits.
1917 the state sold the property to a private owner. The Department of Agriculture continued to
operate a large test farm in Buncombe County.
They also had test plots on the former Blantyre test farm and other
farms throughout Transylvania County.
|The large barn at the former state test farm in Blantyre.|
architectural survey conducted in the 1990s includes a file on the former state
farm. It shows a small home and a large
barn. The barn is described as “typical
of institutional barns of the period, larger and finer than those found on
private farms. A vented cupola crowns
the ridgeline of the front-gable roof.
Weatherboard siding and board-and-batten siding cover the exterior. Under the eave and tapered, exposed rafters
are horizontal slated vents. There are
many windows and doors, and the loft is very large. A side shed addition behind the block silo
has been roughly enclosed with horizontal boards.”
Thank you to
Earlene Orr for extensive research on the Blantyre test farm and assistance
with this article.
information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or