Hidden deep in the forest of North Carolina’s Smokey Mountains is a group of friends who’ve given up their jobs and cell phones for a life closer to nature, and each other.
They make their “living” scavenging wild animals, gathering nuts and berries, forest gardening, and drinking straight from the stream.
NBC recently caught wind of the Wildroots community and made their otherwise quiet lives national news.
“I would find myself sitting at my desk wishing the day was over so I could go home,” says the community’s founder “Todd.”
“And then I would wish it was Friday … and then I would wish my next vacation was coming up. And then I realized I was very literally wishing my life away.”
Todd was a successful engineer until he quit and moved to the woods 11 years ago.
He, his girlfriend, her 8-year-old daughter, and a handful of other unruly characters live in handmade mud huts on a 30-acre primitive homestead, where they host about a dozen other transient residents at a time, teaching them wilderness “thrival” skills.
Wildroots has no electricity or running water, other than streams and springs throughout the property, from which they haul water to camp in jugs.
Its members make their own leather clothing, shoes, tools, baskets, and earthen homes.
They’ve been cultivating a food forest on 5 acres of formerly logged and eroding hillside for the last seven years, planting chestnut, hickory, persimmon, apricot and cherry trees, and kiwi, currant, raspberry, and pawpaw bushes.