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Karen Cruser moved to Swannanoa, North Carolina from California in 1972 with her husband and two-year-old daughter. They built their house themselves using recycled wood and windows, some wood from local sawmills and wood from their own property. Swannanoa is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina.

The home is located on 12 acres of woods and fields along the Swannanoa River.

When asked what she likes about Swannanoa, Karen gave candid answers, the first of which is the Swannanoa River. He states that this is one of the most beautiful parts of the world and that it is important to keep it that way.

Karen is glad that Swannanoa has a strong local food movement and the best bee chapter in the state. He also appreciates kind people who help each other and work together for the good of all. She firmly believes that it is important for all of us to preserve our agricultural lands and to support local farmers.


Happy and busy Karen Cruser spends her days organic gardening, baking, sewing, conserving, caring for her animals and bees, and taking photos, to name a few of her activities.

In addition to preparing food for home use, Karen has an incredible variety of natural items that she makes. She is perhaps best known for her beautiful “rainbow eggs” collected from her prized flock of chickens.

Karen’s advice on raising chickens is to feed and care for them as if they were “spoiled”. She feeds her chickens only good grains and vegetables. Well, they look happy!

Karen’s artistic photos and handmade note cards come from beautiful photos taken with a 35mm camera. They are mostly taken locally and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

She also bakes organic breads and other goodies using her own home-grown eggs, organic flour, milk, and butter. She uses honey produced by bees in her hives and hopes to add more hives next spring.

Buncombe County, North Carolina has an active Bee Keepers Chapter, an outreach office, Karen is as excited about bees as she is about most things. “We all need to take care of bees, as they in turn make most of our food possible. We have to make wise decisions when using pesticides … most are very harmful to bees.”

Her jams are made from fruits and berries that she grows organically or, thankfully, shared with her by friends. Some are “no sugar added”.

Now what else could this busy lady do? Well, she grows organic vegetables for home use. She knits sweaters and hats, sews children’s clothing, and makes wooden toys. Phew!


This long-time resident (living here over 30 years) states that she hopes Swannanoa will be incorporated AND retain all of its unique charm. He also feels that a lot of thought needs to be given to the city center and the entire area.

Karen is passionate about her home, her life, and her endeavors. “I think it is important for a person to do what he likes and is interested in, and then make it a way of life.” She feels like it’s not “work” if you love what you do.

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