Patterson School Going Solar!

LENOIR, NC (June 10, 2016)…Community solar for Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation members in Caldwell County is advancing thanks to a partnership between the cooperative and the Patterson School Foundation.

Construction could soon begin on the cooperative’s community solar garden on nearly an acre of land leased from Patterson School Foundation located on the south side of Hwy 268 just before Buffalo Cove Rd. Blue Ridge is working closely with the Caldwell County Planning and Development department to fully comply with the recently adopted Solar Amendment to the Zoning Ordinance and obtain a conditional use permit for the site.


Thanks to a partnership with Patterson School Foundation, construction could soon begin on Blue Ridge Electric’s community solar garden in an area on the south side of Hwy 268 just before Buffalo Cove Road. (Photo and description provided by Blue Ridge Electric.)

Community solar gardens are ideal for offering access to solar energy for consumers who cannot—or do not wish—to install rooftop solar panels due to factors such as high upfront cost or maintenance concerns. While renewable energy currently makes up six percent of Blue Ridge Electric’s power supply and that percentage is growing, community solar gardens will empower cooperative members to directly choose to invest in receiving a greater portion of their electricity from solar resources.

The cooperative is planning to construct four community solar gardens this fall, each a 100 kW (kilowatt) array consisting of 350 ground mounted solar panels that will cumulatively power 50 average households. Pricing options are currently being developed for subscribing to the energy rights of one or more solar panels.

Patterson School Foundation and Blue Ridge Electric also envision the community solar garden providing a valuable educational benefit to Patterson retreat participants and to Caldwell County students engaged in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Agriculture and Math) curriculum there.

Blue Ridge Electric is committed to making its members lives better by offering innovative and powerful solutions such as community solar. The cooperative serves some 74,000 members. For more information, visit


While Blue Ridge Electric’s community solar garden will be much larger than this residential solar array, this photo provides an idea of the look of a ground mounted solar facility. This array is owned by Blue Ridge Electric employee Jason Smith, senior communications analyst, who came to Blue Ridge after working for a SC company as chief operating officer, managing construction and renewable energy solutions. (Photo description provided by Blue Ridge Electric and photo provided by the Smith Family.)

Drawing Classes to be Taught at Historic Patterson School campus

Ed Dyer“How to Draw” is offered as a series of eight classes on the Patterson School campus Wednesday and Saturday mornings beginning on Saturday, June 11 and continuing through Wednesday, July 6. The morning classes will be held from 9am to noon in the Wiese Dorm Art Studio.

“Like reading and writing , drawing is a fundamental life skill, and knowledge of drawing will reinforce your understanding of the visual world. Contrary to popular belief, the ability to draw is a learned process,” explains instructor Ed Dyer, who has recently moved to North Carolina from New Orleans. Ed is a member of the Pastel Society of America and the Degas Pastel Society. He earned his BFA degree from Boston University in 1959, and his MBA degree from Yale University in 1970.

“Students will learn how to see;” says Ed, ” drawing is 50% observation.” Ed will teach composition, drawing fundamentals using basic forms, and elements of shading. Classes will cover the use of values, and accurate measurement techniques for proportion. Students will learn to create textures and soft / hard edges for impact. Each session will become more challenging as skills are acquired.

The workshop will be hands-on, with demonstrations and individual guidance. “If you want to take your drawing to the next level, this workshop is for you,” says Ed. Classes are designed for the beginner and intermediate student, adults and young adults, with three full hours of drawing in each of the eight sessions. Individual guidance and evaluation, and informational handouts are all included. Media will be charcoal and graphite on newsprint. A list of inexpensive materials will be issued.

Ed Dyer will be featured as Artist in Residence at the Edgewood Cottage in Blowing Rock for the week of August 8 -16, and will be on hand there to discuss his work. The Cottage is the vintage studio of Blowing Rock painter Elliott Daingerfield, now restored and managed by the Blowing Rock Historical Society.

“Learning to draw skillfully is the surest way to achieve mastery in your painting, no matter what the medium , ” Ed explains. The Patterson School Campus is located nine miles north of Lenoir on Highway 268, just past the Chapel of Rest. Visit Ed’s website at Ed Dyer Fine Art, and to register for classes, call the Caldwell Arts Council at (828) 754-2486. Fee for the 8-day series is $250.

Empower Personalized Fitness

empower fitnessWe are very excited to partner with Empower Personalized Fitness from Durham, NC for our first ever retreat weekend at The Patterson School. Empower is an innovative fitness and wellness company and they are launching a new venture called Empower Expeditions to showcase their unique fitness philosophy – ThinkFUN, Get Fit, Eat Well.

Their very first Expedition is coming up June 3rd – 5th at The Patterson School and as I learned more about this retreat it struck me that this experience would REALLY RESONATE with some of you. I am including a link to a little eBook about the programming and bios of presenters so that you can learn more about this weekend of relaxation, wellness and fun.

This week only there is an Early Bird Special Price of $429 which includes 2 nights accommodations, 6 delicious chef-prepared meals, plenty of wholesome snacks and participation in 9 educational sessions to help you connect with nature, discover your resonant energy, and ultimately create and experience the life you envision. Don’t worry, there’s also time on the schedule to relax, socialize, and do whatever you want!

Empower already has a diverse group of individuals coming from the Triangle area, and they are looking for pioneers to help blaze the trail for this new venture. Future plans include taking Empower Expeditions to Sonoma Valley and even Italy so you don’t want to miss out on this first experience.

Read the e-book and learn more at

Gard Hall Library Opening To The Public

Gard Hall from the SE- Fe. 2003The Gard Hall library is going public as soon as the floors are repaired! This is a major event in our community relations as we open up the school’s library to the local residents of the valley, becoming the only public library available to them in the area.

With a grant to provide air conditioning for the entire first floor of Gard Hall on the promise that we would make the library open to the public at least 2 days a week, we are well under way to accomplishing the remodeling of the first floor. We first had a spanking new bathroom built that is absolutely beautiful and we are now in the last phase of preparation for the big day when we can open the doors.

This phase entails repairing or replacing the flooring. The building is very old so there has been considerable wear and tear in places. Some of the flooring had to be removed and replaced with plywood because it was so badly rotted and even a few of the joists had to be replaced or reinforced. When all is said and done the entire floor will be carpeted except an area around the fireplace where the original flooring will be refinished.

We could really use any help you can provide in covering the cost of this project, which will help us with our goal of keeping the school a functional, vibrant part of the community for many years to come and not just let it crumble and pass into history like so many other old schools have.

Would you please make a contribution to the Gard Hall Fund by clicking on the Donate Now button at the top right of this page? We and all the former students, faculty, and staff as well as all those who have volunteered thier time or money to preserve the school would be ever so grateful!

Patterson’s First Newletter

The News of The Patterson School was first published in November 1909. It consisted of 4 pages and covered such topics as the opening of the school, the number of boarding and day students attending, some history about Samuel Patterson and his wife, the mission of the school, life at the school, and the needs of the school. The newsletter is a fascinating read and look into life in 1909. We are fortunate to have obtained a copy of this first newsletter and believe you will find it as interesting and enlightening as we did.

The News of The Patterson School, November 1909, Page 1

The News of The Patterson School, November 1909, Page 2

The News of The Patterson School, November 1909, Page 3

The News of The Patterson School, November 1909, Page 4

High Country Farm Tour

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Farm Tour PosterThe Patterson School Foundation is pleased to be a part of the High Country Farm Tour sponsored by the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA). Four farms are featured in the tour, with the Patterson Estate being the first of the four. Tickets are available here or at the Patterson School grounds the day of the event. The 4 page Tour Guide is available for viewing or downloading here. For complete details visit the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture website. The event runs from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

Come tour the Patterson School Foundation property, bequeathed for agricultural educational purposes by Samuel Legerwood Patterson, the first elected NC Agricultural Commissioner. His great, great niece will share the Permaculture plans to regenerate this land, organic farm management of horse hay, the newly re-opened Patterson Equestrian Center and Riding Club, and the Caldwell County Public School’s STEAM program’s campus site. Enjoy this resource-rich land which includes an old hydro-electric dam, the Yadkin River and Ripshin Mountain’s peak.

Patterson Courses – Something from “The Kitchen”

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Deneice GuestSafe and Easy Home Canning
June 13 – 9:00 AM
Instructor: DeNeice Guest
Class will be $35

Safe and Easy Home Canning – Learn the basics of home canning with DeNeice Guest, co-author of the new book Drink the Harvest, as she introduces the time honored tradition of preserving food from the garden. Discover how safe, easy, and economical it is to preserve food and beverages by canning. Nothing makes a family more secure than having a well-stocked pantry, and canning ensures that no one runs short even during paralyzing blizzards, power outages, or other disruptions. And this proven method helps cut energy use and curb global pollution: why drive to a grocery store when you already have your favorite foods as close as your cupboard! Canning the surplus cuts waste when you have an extra large harvest, and provides a way to combine and preserve your best crops in imaginative ways. The workshop covers equipment, sanitation practices, and step-by-step techniques. (minimum of 10 students)

Make your own Garden Wine and Mead!
June 13 – 1:00 AM
Instructor: DeNeice Guest
Classes will be $35

Make your own Garden Wine and Mead – Learn the basics of making garden wine and mead with DeNeice Guest, co-author of the new book Drink the Harvest, as she introduces the little known world of herb wines and honey meads. Tap into the little known world of homemade garden wines, which combine health benefits with delicious flavor. Celebrate fruit and herbs in a pure yet long-lasting form, and learn which herbs are best to use as wines, how to harvest and handle them, and how to begin the wine making process. Here’s an inexpensive way to boost your herb garden’s potential. (minimum of 10 students)

Cheese Making
June 20 – 9:00 AM
Instructor: Dawn Matthews
Class will be $35

Cheese Making class – Dawn Matthews will present the process to make Mozzarella and Chevre cheeses in a fun and informative class. Learn the steps to making Mozzarella in 30 minutes with only three ingredients. Class attendees will have the opportunity to sample this cheese while still hot and gooey! This cheese can also be made with regular cow’s milk out of the store. Chevre cheese is a standard farmers milk cheese. It tastes like buttermilk that has been made into cream cheese. This process takes approximately 24 hours but is so easy you will wonder why you have never made it before. During the class we will shorten the processing time so you see each step demonstrated in front of you. There will also be a website and information given so you can purchase items needed to prepare these cheeses at home. (minimum of 10 students)

Summer Homesteading Classes offered at Patterson

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Dawn matthews thankful goat

Dawn Matthews, founder and owner of The Thankful Goat, lives on a micro-farm near Lenoir.  Featured in Mother Earth News, Dawn’s business started with a mistake.  They had just gotten their first goat Athena, when she ate some laurel leaves that are toxic to goats.  An inoculation made her milk undrinkable, so Dawn turned the undrinkable milk into soap!  She homeschools, manages her micro-farm, makes cheeses, soaps, and bath products, and found time to write a book about her experience!

Cheese Making
June 20 – 9:00 AM
Instructor: Dawn Matthews
Class will be $35

Cheese making class  – Mozzarella and Chevre cheese will be presented in a fun and informative class.  Learn the steps to making Mozzarella in 30 minutes with only three ingredients.  Class attendees will have the opportunity to sample this cheese while still hot and gooey!  This cheese can also be made with regular cow’s milk out of the store.  Chevre is a standard farmers milk cheese.  It tastes like buttermilk that’s been made into cream cheese.  This process takes approximately 24 hours but is so easy you will wonder why you’ve never made it before.  During the class we will shorten the processing time so you see each step demonstrated in front of you.  There will also be a website and information given so you can purchase items needed to prepare these cheeses at home.   (minimum of 10 students per class)

Soap Making
June 20 – 1:00 PM
Instructor:  Dawn Matthews
Class will be $35

Soap making – We will talk about the history of soap spanning back over 8,000 years.  A batch of soap will be made as a demonstration and each person attending will be given a bar to take home.  Soap making precautions will be addressed and questions answered concerning additives you can use to make a batch with your own flare!   (minimum of 10 students per class)

Drop Spindle Class
June 20 – 3:00 PM
Instructor:  Dawn Matthews
Class will be $35

Drop Spindle Spinning – Drop spindles have been around in every country for thousands of years.  This age old process uses sheep, goat, llama, alpaca, cotton, flax, and other natural fibers and turns it into yarn for weaving, crocheting, and knitting.  We will demonstrate the processes used to make yarn out of roving.  The class will include roving, and spindles will be available for purchase for $14.00.   (minimum of 10 students per class)