How Not to Move to the West Coast

Appalachian mountain view

Appalachian mountain view

Why would you want to? Okay, maybe for the olives…

I have nothing against the West Coast, nor am I promoting a competition. I just think we should give the United States some balance. If you want to make a big change, make it in a place where there needs to be a big change!

Not that it is much of a sacrifice to choose to live in (or in short traveling distance of) what is arguably the oldest mountain range on earth. Stop-your-breath beauty, immense ecological diversity, rich culture, and fascinating local history are such low points when choosing a place to live…

So what if you don’t see eye-to-eye with your next door neighbor? Think of him as a fathomless mine of knee-slapping stories to tell and retell at parties. You might even bond over kudzu removal or moonshine recipes if you give him a chance.

Tell your stories to like-minded people at farmers markets, Green Drinks chapter meetings, outdoors groups, the Organic Grower’s School, contra dances, locavore parties…

Most of us become interested in one aspect of sustainability and then branch out from there. With forward momentum increasing daily in the southeast, you’re poised to really make a difference!

Our area’s agriculture has probably traveled the furthest down the sustainability path so far, but other elements of eco-culture are definitely in the race. Renewable energy, green homes, and conservation are gaining ever stronger footholds in the foothills. Look up local food sources in the mountains using a variety of directories, set up your home off the grid, volunteer for conservation efforts with a multitude of parks or organizations, and use your money to vote for green products and services.

And you can grow things, boy howdy! Any spot on earth has its growing challenges but I’m convinced that the pros of this area far outweigh the cons.

In most places the soil is rich (even if you need to add lots of organic matter to deal with the rocks or red clay) and the precipitation is at least more reliable than in most of California. If you’re living in the Appalachians there’s a good chance you’re situated in a temperate rainforest (now if we can just redirect global climate change…).

But what about the rest of the weather? Depending on the elevation it can be downright cool in July. Toughing out our heat waves just gives you bragging rights! And hey, we don’t have to add frequent earthquakes to the mix.

I know most of you are already on the same page with me. The rest of you — well — if you want to pretend we’re being martyrs by staying here, that’s fine with us.

Eliza Lord

I'm a Greenville, SC native (the Appalachian foothills) who wears the hats of Greenville Master Gardener & Upstate Master Naturalist. I love to write about food and sustainability.