The Swannanoa Valley Rainbow Egg Lady – Organic Gardening Lifestyle

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

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

When asked what she likes about Swannanoa, Karen gave heart-felt answers, the first of which is the Swannanoa River. She states that this is a beautiful part of the world and it is important to keep it this way.

Karen is glad that Swannanoa has a strong local food movement and the best Bee Chapter in the state. She also appreciates the friendly people here who help one another and work together for the good of all. She feels strongly that it is important for all of us to preserve our farm land and support local farmers.


Karen Cruser happily and busily spends her days doing organic gardening, baking, sewing, preserving, tending to her animals and bees, and taking photos to name a few of her activities.

Beside preparing foods for home use, Karen has an amazing array of natural items she makes. She is perhaps most well known for her gorgeous "rainbow eggs" gathered from her prized flock of chickens.

Karen's advice about raising chickens is to feed and care for them as if they were being "spoiled." She feeds her chickens only good grains and greens. Well, they look happy!

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

She also bakes spreads and other organic goodies using her own home grown eggs, organic flour, milk and butter. She uses honey produced by the bees in her hives and is hoping to add more hives in the coming spring.

Buncombe County NC has an active Bee Keepers Chapter, extension office, Karen is as enthusiastic about bees as she is about most things. "We must all take care of the 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 the fruits and berries she raises organically, or fairly shared with her by friends. Some are "no sugar added."

Now just what else could this busy lady do? Well, she grows organic vegetables for home use. She knits sweaters and hats, sews childrens' clothing, and makes wooden toys. Whew!


This long time resident (living here 30 plus years) states that she hopes to see Swannanoa became incorporated and retain all of its unique charm. She also feels that much careful thought should go into the town 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 they enjoy and are interested in, then make it a way of life." She feels it's not "work" if you love what you do.