Honeysuckle Farm and Gardens consists of 225 acres of agroecology production, biodiversity conservation, and just plain fun places to explore. It includes the farmland surrounding Honeysuckle Tea House, the Keith Collection of over 3,400 species of trees and shrubs from around the world, and the adjoining Pickards Mountain Forest, a state-designated Natural Heritage Area with trails traversing its rich, mature chestnut oak forest encompassing the second highest point in Orange County. These unique places are where The Honeysuckle experience comes together.
HONEYSUCKLE FARM PHOTOS
KEITH COLLECTION & PICKARDS MOUNTAIN FOREST PHOTOS
Keith Collection & Pickards Mtn. Forest
2131 Marions Ford Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
8871 Pickards Meadow Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
The Keith Collection
The Honeysuckle Farm and Gardens includes a veritable national botanical jewel known as the “Keith Collection”. It derives that name from Dr. Charles Keith, who devoted 40 years of his life to creating this unparalleled botanical collection in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The collection began in the 1970's on a small scale, on an early 19th century farm located 7 miles west of Chapel Hill. It has grown in size over the years until now it comprises approximately 19.5 acres within an additional 40 acres of conserved wooded buffer land. Currently there are approximately 4,000 labeled species, with an emphasis on collecting and displaying species representing a wide diversity of conditions. The Keith Collection is protected with a conservation easement held by Orange County, and surrounding forests on the Keith Farm are protected by the Triangle Land Conservancy
In 2015, following Dr. Keith's long search for someone to protect his botanical legacy, Unique Places LLC, a conservation real estate firm, contracted to purchase the collection, with a goal of finding a long term steward to continue Dr. Keith’s legacy. In late 2018, Unique Places to Save purchased a 50% controlling interest in the collection, and hired Becca Wait as its first Director of Horticulture (not counting Dr. Keith).
Pickard’s Mountain Forest
In 2000, entrepreneur Tim Toben purchased Pickard’s Mountain, and took the bold step of protecting over 140 acres of the mountain and its habitat with a conservation easement with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. The conservation easement also protects the headwaters of University Lake. The property includes the second highest point in Orange County and is known as a Registered Natural Heritage area for its unique botanical habitat. It is among the largest tracts of chestnut oak forest in the county second only to Occoneechee Mountain State Park.
In 2014, at the same time the Keith Collection was on the market, the Pickard’s Mountain Forest tract went on the market for sale and Unique Places LLC purchased this property along with the Keith Collection.
In late 2018, Unique Places to Save purchased a 50% controlling interest in the Pickard’s Mountain Forest and rebranded the Pickard’s Mountain Forest and Keith Collection into the Honeysuckle Farm and Gardens.
Honeysuckle Farm was established in 2014 as a working farm to supply fresh herbs, berries and other fruits to the Honeysuckle Tea House. Over its first 5 years of operation the farm has served as an outdoor classroom for agroecology practices. Visitors of all ages can experience the full cycle of life on the farm, from honey bees making honey by pollinating berries and herbs, to herb and berry harvests processed into beverages, to compost that builds healthy soils.
In Spring 2017, Unique Places To Save acquired a 20% interest in the Farm, increasing to a 50% controlling interest in late 2018. Its goal is enhancing and showcasing this agritourism destination where lessons in natural farming and value-added production of local products can be learned. Overnight farm stays and seasonal celebrations are central part of the growing season calendar. Ryan Smith was hired as the Land Steward responsible for creating a productive farm and a welcoming place where guests can connect with the land.