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Sluder Family, Commissioners Work Together to Preserve Nearly 250 Acres

Just over 235 acres of land will be preserved as Buncombe County Commissioners unanimously approved using $70,000 to place it into a conservation easement. The Sluder Farm is located in Candler and will remain designated as agricultural land and free from development for generations to come. Currently, the land is used for beekeeping, cutting hay, forestry, and gardens and has been with the same family for more than 150 years. The conservation easement ensures it will remain undisturbed and family owned.

Commission Chair Brownie Newman notes that the Sluder family could have made significantly more money by selling the land to developers. “For many landowners, preserving their land is more important than maximizing its monetary value. The County’s investment will help leverage additional conservation funds from other sources,” says Newman. “Thanks are owed to the Buncombe County Agricultural Advisory Board for its work on the project and the Sluder family for being good stewards of their land.”

Buncombe County is proactive in its efforts to place land into conservation easements and currently has more than 420,000 acres in a variety of easements. There are multiple ways to transfer your land to an easement, and you can find more information below:

Read more about the Sluder Farm via Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation:

Part of the Hominy Valley in southwestern Buncombe County was settled by the Brooks family in the mid-19th century. George Brooks (1804-1874) and his family came to the Beaverdam Valley and obtained large tracts of land along Beaverdam Creek. The children of George Brooks and their descendants built a number of houses in the valley beginning in the late 1800s. They held various occupations but generally were engaged in self-sufficient subsistence farming, raising cattle, horses, hogs, poultry and growing corn, wheat, hay, and other crops. Today, the entire Brooks Valley area remains one of the most undeveloped areas of this section of Buncombe County, with primarily single-family homes and large undeveloped areas.

Randall Brooks Sluder and Larry Lan Sluder are direct descendants of George and Elizabeth Brooks, their great-great grandparents. They received most of the property from their mother, Willie Mae Sluder, daughter of William Brooks (son of George Brooks) and wife of the deceased Lattie Lan Sluder, in the early 1970s. Later, Larry and Randall Sluder purchased certain other property adjoining the main farm.

Their families have owned property here for more than 170 years. George Brooks’ grave is in the private Brooks Family Cemetery off Beaverdam Road, along with some 30 other Brooks family members and relations. The headstone noting his death in 1874 is the oldest marker in the cemetery, although several unmarked stones likely denote graves that predate this.

Larry and Randall Sluder and their spouses, Sheila M. Lambert and Debra Sluder respectively, individually or jointly, currently own at least 235 acres and four dwellings and two barns on Beaverdam Road in Candler.  Other than the dwellings, barns, and immediate surroundings, the property is primarily in second-growth forest, along with about 20 acres of open fields and pasture.

The oldest home on the contiguous properties, a restored two-story farmhouse at 280 Beaverdam Road, dates to 1896, with restoration in the 1980s to early 2000s. It was built by Bud Brooks and became in the 1940s the home of the parents of Randall and Larry Sluder, who operated one of the region’s largest turkey farms on this property in the 1940s and 1950s. They were active members of the Farmers Federation. A 1960s house and 1970s garage apartment at 285 Beaverdam Road, built by Willie Mae Sluder, sits on the site of the original Brooks home that dated to the late 19th century and was torn down in the early 1960s. Another house, with three bedrooms and two baths, was built in the 1920s with additional renovations and expansions in the early 2000s, is at 287 Beaverdam Road. A small house at 270 Beaverdam Road built in the 1950s by the family is now a rental and was last renovated in 2017.

The hillsides have beautiful vistas across the valley, and the property has multiple springs and several old logging roads which have been maintained and cleared. The property extends on both sides of Beaverdam Road and runs for more than one-half mile along Beaverdam Creek to the top of the mountain ridge where a part of it adjoins US Government Forest land. It is currently used for small farm operations such as beekeeping, gardens and hay, but the bulk of it is in timber in the Buncombe County forestry present use value program.