About SAFS

This is a place where “passing down” happens


Southern Appalachian Folk School is a non-profit folk school dedicated to preserving our mountain culture. Our culture grew from many cultures. People migrated from several European regions and settled in a land that felt familiar to them.

The skills they brought were as varied as the people themselves. The “Scots-Irish” brought ballads and fiddle music. The Swedes and Finns brought woodsman skills and log cabin construction. The Welsh brought mining and metallurgical expertise.

When they arrived, times were hard. Their native neighbors helped by sharing skills they knew. The Cherokee in the Southern Appalachian region taught the newcomers how to plant and cultivate crops and the medicinal properties of hundreds of native herbs and roots.

Our mountain culture is the heritage and tradition of neighbor helping neighbor and skills learned from one and passed to another.


Our dream is to create a folk school with the mission of preserving the spirit of the Southern Appalachian Mountains by inviting the world to participate in the Arts, Crafts and Stories of our mountain culture. We aspire to create a walkable, residential campus that offers workshops and classes that encourage open participation and learning.


Southern Appalachian Folk School opened in 2018 as a dream and a passion of its founders. In May of the previous year Heather Poole, potter, C. Larry Wilson, potter, Debbie Brownlee, graphic artist, Rhonda Lindsey, poet, and Billy Roper, folk artist met to talk about preserving the arts, crafts and stories of our Appalachian Mountain culture.

Pickens County, Georgia was once a thriving rural countryside fueled by the marble mining industry. Folks made their own furniture in their wood shop and tools and horseshoes at their forge. They raised crops and livestock and hunted to feed their families. Quilts and clothes were handmade. And at night families gathered by the fire to make music and tell stories.

The founders realized that this culture was in danger of no longer being passed down through families. If it is to survive we must teach it. To teach it, we must have a school – a folk school.

A business plan was created, and others were invited to join the journey. Amelia McIntyre, artist and educator, Pat Jewell, poet and thespian and J.J. Roper, businesswoman rounded out the team. As we began to move the business plan from paper to reality we met Doris Wall, an avid supporter of the arts, who helped us provide the homestead for our school. And on February 24, 2018, less than a year from its conception, we held our first classes.

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