Oliver's Agroforest Infrastructure Campaign

The Farm
Oliver’s Agroforest is the rebirth of Olivia Watkins’ family farm in North Carolina. This project resides on land that has been stewarded by the Watkins-Wallace-Battle-Nash family lineage for 130 years and was originally stewarded by the Catawba and Tuscarora peoples prior to land displacement by European settlers. In the 1890s, Olivia’s great aunt and uncle came into stewardship of this land to provide a place for them to live and self-sustain. They grew potatoes, cabbage, collards, corn, goat, cow, lady smith tomatoes, pears. In the mid-1950s Olivia’s grandfather, Oliver, put in a well and electricity when power lines were first built down the road. He was an engineer and received his degree from NC A&T where he met Olivia’s grandmother, Ruth. They would visit the land between their international trips for work and decided to stay living abroad in search of economic opportunity. Olivia’s great aunt passed away in the 70s and since then it has since been vacant and managed as a timber farm until April 2019. when Olivia, representing the fifth generation of her family, returned to the land to continue her ancestral legacy as a farmer and forest steward. The land we steward is a 39.9-acre forest. We currently are growing shiitake mushrooms on 130 sweetgum logs and manage the woods for timber. We sell these mushrooms dry or fresh through direct-to-customer deliveries or social media. 

Olivia has been farming for the past 6 years on regenerative agriculture systems in South Korea, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Hawai'i, New York, and now North Carolina. She currently is in her last year of her MBA program at North Carolina State University studying Financial Management. 

The Goal
In the next 5 years, we would like to have a 1,000 shiitake mushroom log operation, a 0.5-acre plot of perennials and annuals, and a 5 hive apiary within the forest. Perennials include elderberry, persimmon, currants, pecan, and hazelnut. We will be selling 75% of the produce direct-to-consumer and 25% of the produce wholesale. Direct-to-consumer will be a combination of e-commerce sales and consumer deliveries. A portion of the cleared plot will be rented to young farmers who are interested in growing but do not have access to land or infrastructure.

The Situation

While my family lived on this land until the 70s, the property is still significantly underdeveloped to have a fully functioning and efficient farm. There is no road access or infrastructure.The mushroom yard is about 150 ft from the road down a slope with a steep 13ft elevation drop. As a result, anytime work needs to be done on the farm, Olivia uses a wheelbarrow to transport generators, tools, etc. back and forth from her car parked on the side of the road to the mushroom yard site.

We have reached out to several banks that provide loans to small business and agriculture business but Oliver’s Agroforest did not qualify due to age of business (under 5 years). We are asking you for support to raise the capital infrastructure funds needed in order to make the farm fully operational.

The Projects

1) Pre-build: Survey and site map of land to identify property boundaries to receive building permits, building permit fees ($6,600)

2) Laying the foundation: grading, clearing 1 acre, 150 ft road installation ($8,000)

3) Water systems: installing rain catchment system and well ($3,000)

4) Perennial and annual system installation: 8x 50ft rows of perennials and space for annuals ($5,000)

5) Barn build: Space for processing, packing, and storing product and shop ($60,000)

6) House build: For farm workers of Oliver's Agroforest ($100,000)

We are currently in the process of finalizing a contract with a surveyor for the pre-build phase. Once the survey is complete, we can then proceed with the other steps.


Olivia Watkins
Holly Springs, NC

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