DescriptionOne of the most well-kept secrets in the mountains of North Carolina is The Village Green Conservancy, Inc., a 501C3 purlieu in Cashiers, an unincorporated village. We spend four months in Cashiers every summer and fall, and I can’t wait to arrive each year to see what has been added and/or refurbished during the winter. It all started in 1992 when three notable people collaborated to protect the Cashiers core from being developed by a large hotel chain. They donated 10+ acres to the VG Conservancy to begin the project which would one day become a destination for many tourists and locals to gather. After more acreage was donated or purchased, the firm of Duany, Plater-Zyberk of Miami was engaged to design the park. In 2016, Chairman Joe Thompson led a campaign to build the Commons Pavilion for community events which has transformed this park into the hub where everyone wants to be. The present-day success of this park is from the heart and hand of many visionaries.
The 20+ acre park at the crossroads of Cashiers is situated in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The park receives no government funding and has relied solely upon fundraisers, grants and contributions for its creation and support. The Village Green is now home to a giant playground, long walking trails, large lawn sculptures and a trio of wind sculptures, exquisite gardens, a “story-walk” trail for school children, and a stunning multi-purpose Commons Pavilion. A variety of community activities take place in the pavilion, i.e., concerts, antique shows, speaker series, recitals, festivals, art classes, blessing of the animals, health forums, movie night, ballroom dancing and private events just to name a few! During the pandemic of 2020, it provided a place for Covid testing and outdoor church services. Picnic grounds and green lawns provide relaxation and recreation for family and civic gatherings, while a wetlands boardwalk winds through the woods for an adventure in nature. All of these activities have fulfilled the purpose and mission of the Village Green and it has made Cashiers, NC an enchanting place to live or visit.
One of my favorite spaces in the Village Green is the Hayes Fairchild Memorial Garden. It is a magnificent work of art, re-designed by Mary Palmer Dargan, ASLA. She envisioned a garden of five senses with places of repose and meditation. For this oasis of elegant beauty, Mrs. Dargan selected native plants and striking ornamentals to give the visitor many surprises along the pebble path. At the end is a stone garden seat with baskets of coral honeysuckle hanging from the arbor above to invite the visitor to sit awhile! This is my grandchildren’s favorite spot for a summer picnic.
In the summer, we see a beautiful array of perennials and annuals from Asters to Zinnias! Various colors of hydrangeas, dogwood, Joe Pye weed, rhododendron, black-eyed Susans, echinacea and foxglove line the paths and beds. The fall months are my favorite time when the color is storybook beautiful. Dogwoods, maples, oaks, poplars, sourwood, burning bush and cypress explode with 50 shades of red, orange and yellow. My daily routine is to meet friends at the Commons in the morning and take a 2-3 mile walk on the paths and trails all over the village of Cashiers. This is when we smell the roses, soak up the sunshine, and catch up on the night-before news! This conservancy is truly a visual and sensual experience that excites every visitor. “Wow” is a constant comment heard from visitors all around the park as they admire every scene. The Village Green will always be a place to channel the creativity of artisans and volunteers, with donations keeping this magnificent venue alive for the ages.
Story contributed by Sara Gaines