Natural Capital Investment Fund Loan Enables Herbal Medicine School to Purchase 500-acre Property from Piedmont Land Conservancy
LOWGAP, N.C.—Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund) and the Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) announced today the purchase of the historic Camp E-Mun-Talee by Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine and Wellspring Mountain, Inc. The 500-acre property, located in western Surry County and previously home to the Eckerd Youth Alternatives program for troubled youth, includes a 40-acre campsite with 18 structures for lodging and activities. The remainder of the property is under a conservation easement held by PLC.
The purchase of the property with NCIFund’s loan creates a permanent home for the Eclectic School, which offers onsite herbal training classes, conferences and other events. The school is run by Thomas Easley, the well-known herbalist and author of The Modern Herbal Dispensatory, and his wife Terrie Easley. The couple relocated their herbal medicine clinic from Alabama to North Carolina in March of 2015 when they learned the property was up for sale and have been busy returning the camp’s facilities to working order.
“This land has held a special place in my heart since I worked here in 2003 for Eckerd,” said Terrie Easley. “Promoting environmental conservation and education are our two main goals, and we are very grateful to Piedmont Land Conservancy and NCIFund for their unwavering support of our vision.”
NCIFund, a small business lender associated with The Conservation Fund, provides financing to small businesses that use natural resources responsibly.
“NCIFund is proud to support the Easleys, whose business contributes in important ways to the local community and economy,” said Anna Tefft, Director of Lending for NCIFund. “Their commitment to preserve this important natural space and to on-going connections with the local community through education and events embodies perfectly our mission to support green local economies. We’re grateful to the Piedmont Land Conservancy for their important role in making this deal possible.”
The Wellspring Mountain property was originally given to The Nature Conservancy by James G. and Helen C. Hanes in 1978. In 2000, The Nature Conservancy conveyed the land to PLC, which leased the property at no cost to Eckerd Youth Alternatives until 2010, when state budget cuts forced the closure of the camp. The Eckerd program provided a unique, alternative education program for at-risk teenage youth, who lived in tents year-round and were taught survival skills in addition to continuing their conventional education.
PLC will use the funds from the sale to support other conservation projects in the North Carolina piedmont region.
“We’re very pleased to have found a buyer whose conservation values and appreciation of the ecological significance of this property are similar to the Conservancy’s”, says Kevin Redding, PLC’s executive director. “This is a great example of how conservation, education and economic development all complement each other.”
About Natural Capital Investment Fund
Natural Capital Investment Fund supports entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and triple-bottom-line businesses in underserved communities in Central Appalachia and the Southeast. NCIFund is a business loan fund with expertise in eco-tourism, agriculture, alternative energy and forest products. Founded in 2001, NCIFund is a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) affiliated with The Conservation Fund. www.ncifund.org
About Piedmont Land Conservancy
Piedmont Land Conservancy permanently protects important lands to conserve our region’s rivers and streams, natural and scenic areas, wildlife habitat and farmland that make the Piedmont a healthy and vibrant place to live, work and visit for present and future generations. www.piedmontland.org