The first comprehensive forest plan in the Western Hemisphere was developed for woodlands on Biltmore Estate, according to estate history. Over thousands of acres, more trees were planted to prevent erosion and then forested areas were often selectively thinned. Today’s visitors to this North Carolina treasure can enjoy the panoramic views created by rolling hills and meadows thick with trees. Our family enjoyed our recent visit, courtesy of the estate.
Some areas of the estate have remained in rolling farmland. George Vanderbilt prided himself in being an agricultural leader of his time, hiring the best managers in crop production and animal husbandry. His wife, Edith, was the first female president of the North Carolina Agricultural Society. They built a popular dairy and ran an extensive tenant farmer program with workers living in cottages on the property.
Today’s Biltmore Estate welcomes the public to see a small farming tradition carried on, with everything from a world-class winery to small displays of livestock. Layer hens run free on grass, supplying some eggs for Biltmore restaurants.
Cashmere goats, shown munching hay along with Boer goats, are combed for soft cashmere that is used in spinning demonstrations. Biltmore says its environmental stewardship practices also involve sourcing much local food and purchasing antibiotic-free meats.
A more recent addition to Biltmore’s green practices is a 9-acre photovoltaic installation. The solar panels collect enough energy to supply more than 20% of the estate’s needs.
The winery now takes part in a cork recycling program to reuse corks for creative purposes.
The small working farm area is the easiest connection for young visitors to make with the Biltmore’s heritage in agriculture and conservation.