Name: Bill Whipple ‘83
Current Hometown: Union, WV & Asheville, NC
Can you tell us about the work you are doing now?
Acornucopia Project (AP) is 10% nuts and 90% crazy people and aims to facilitate the restructuring of our agro/ socio/economic model with generative agriculture managed cooperatively by a nutwork of small, regional, autonomous operators. We can then sequester true wealth in the form of soil, water, carbon, jobs, and human dignity as a result of positive human relations with our environment and each other.
The AP is an economic feasibility study while we wait for our trees to come to bear.
If we can break even on wild foraged nuts then we will
make bank on cultivated orchards of improved genetics. from this sprung the “nutworking” aspect set on initiating autonomous regional community nutteries throughout our region and eventually a template that could eventually span the globe. It is understood that cooperation rather corporation will be the future if the human species intends to live under another model than master/slave.
[Bill also leads Barkslip’s Fruit School, teaching the public how to care for fruit and nut trees. He also offers his services to the private sector as a consultant and lecturer, using his 20 years of agricultural experience and permaculture training to help people live more abundantly and harmoniously with their environment.]
Will you explain the Nutty Buddy Collective (NBC) and what the group doing?
[The Nutty Buddy Collective is an Asheville-based agricultural business established in 2014 with the goal of working with community partners to bring native crops to local tables at an economically viable scale, in an ecologically viable way.]
The NBC is different than the acornucopia project. The NBC is land based and equipment based. More nuts and bolts, we have 8 acres of land so far planted in native perennial nut trees and fruit under 100 year leases. It is prime land around Asheville, NC and we didn’t pay a dollar for it so no debt with access to prime market. I have 4 younger partners in their 30’s that were reliable volunteers from my coordination of the edible parks who couldn’t afford land and I came up with the idea to utilize land under conservation to bridge land access between visionary landowners and energetic aspiring farmers. We are also the keepers of the regional nuttery and processing equipment where we process the four commodities from nuts- oil, grain, dairy and meat. With a cooperative continuum we intend to build on genetic selection of improved cultivars of native nuts over the last 100 years and keep making improvements indefinitely that adapt to changing climates, diseases, cultural trends, and socio economic instability.
Why did homesteading appeal to you?
Homesteading appealed to me because of my lack of understanding the bigger picture. To think I could go and hide and not be affected by the larger culture was naive. More so now than ever. That said, my farm is my laboratory, and after 34 years of orcharding in the same spot I have a perspective and relationship with trees that few people have these days. I am grateful for that, and it appears to me that it is time to be more involved in the community and share the unique insights I have gained from this work. The NBC and AP are confluences of a lifetime of eclectic experiences that have added unexpected necessities to these projects. Sterling was a flitter of a butterfly wing so long ago that propelled me on this circuitous journey.
How did Sterling influence your current career path?
It gave me the confidence to be just agriculturally dangerous enough to do stuff that nobody else does.
What is your most memorable Bounder/Expedition memory?
Walking around in the middle of the night alone as everyone slept. It was magically balmy and delightfully snowy like a dream. Dreams have subtle effects on our deep subconscious.
Any words of wisdom for the current Sterling generation?
Look beyond the obvious. Please!