“Since I inherited the farm from my late husband and he from his parents, I never did think of the farm as my property, only that I have been given stewardship of it. The donation of this land to FLC is the best way I can think of to honor that stewardship.”
- Gail Harris, pictured at her farm in Rockford, TN

Foothills Land Conservancy’s Board and staff are excited to announce that the organization’s founding member, Gail Harris, has given FLC ownership of her 300 acre Blount County farm! In 2009, Gail partnered with FLC to place a conservation easement on the property, located in Rockford, TN.  FLC will manage the property’s operations and the organization’s headquarters have been relocated to the former homestead.

For FLC’s Executive Director, Bill Clabough, this move is a monumental one for Foothills. “This is a tremendous gift that Gail has given the conservancy. It’s an opportunity for us to have a permanent headquarters, offered to us by the founding member of FLC, and on land that is protected through a conservation easement. I see so many great possibilities for the future of Foothills.”

FLC provided Gail Harris with a new modular home on the property in late 2016 so that she could stay and live on the farm. This relocation included the logistics of water, electrical, and septic hook ups for the modular home. Gail will continue to live on the farm for as long as she wants to. For Gail, it was the right decision at the right time, “It is my delightful privilege to donate this property while I am still living so that I can enjoy watching its transformation under Foothills’ management.  As open space and farms dwindle I know that the people of Blount County will be proud that this beautiful farm will be protected and enhanced by Foothills for the benefit of future generations.”

A description about the Harris property, included in the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine’s Fall 2010 issue, says it best. “The Harris property, which was purchased by the grandfather of Gail’s late husband, Jim Harris, dates back to the late 1800’s. The farm includes a spring fed pond, cave, former dairy farm, and an old tobacco barn.  Another amazing landmark? 600 million year old rocks dating back to the Cambrian period. Wright State University geology students have visited the site for research in years past. They studied the sedimentary rock outcropping so abundant in the area. Patches of yellow trillium and mayapples take shade under the 100 year old oaks, ash, and beech trees which buffer the Harris homestead.  A large variety of animals roam her property, including deer, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and wild turkeys. Birds frequenting Gail’s feeders include bluebirds, warblers, finches, redwing blackbirds, woodpeckers, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.”  

Local company, Hickory Construction, completed the remodel of the Farm’s homestead for FLC’s new office in late May 2017. The Hickory team brought the structure up to code with updates to plumbing, electrical, and office lighting. They also sheet rocked, painted, and refinished all of the beautiful and original hard wood floors.  A new roof, front steps, and exterior painting of the home was also part of the update.

For Gail Harris, her wish is to make this transition happen now and not to wait:

“It is my delightful privilege to donate this property while I am still living so that I can enjoy watching its transformation under Foothills’ management.  I have absolute faith that Foothills will maximize the property’s potential as a working farm in combination with an educational nature center, wildlife preserve, and an animal refuge and rehabilitation center.  As open space and farms dwindle I know that the people of Blount County will be proud that this beautiful farm will be protected and enhanced by Foothills for the benefit of future generations.”

Your donations go towards making the Harris Farm FLC’s permanent home, supporting our enduring mission to preserve, protect, and enhance the lands of the Southern Appalachian region.

THANK YOU – Every dollar makes a difference!

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Back to FLC’s Donate Page – Click Here

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More info about the Harris Farm:

  • Check out FLC’s  short video on our ‘About Us’ page that includes an interview with Gail Harris.  Click here!