About Us

Asheville Venue and Retreat Center Stewards

Bend of Ivy Lodge, an Asheville venue and retreat center, is owned and stewarded by Alan Minker and Susan Walters Minker. Their company Intentional Growth LLC focuses on nurturing and supporting intentional growth for people, planet and purposes. This aligns with Bend of Ivy’s desire for client experiences when renting our Asheville venue. As a conscious business, we support conscious leaders in their growth, personal and organizational development, wellness and learning.


Susan coaxing goats into new paddock area.

Susan is a Presence-Based Coach, developmental coach and facilitator. Trained and certified in several developmental methods, Susan coaches leaders, emerging leaders, women and coaches with deep self-development, leadership development and life transition support. She works with individuals, teams and groups.

As a retreat facilitator and coach, Susan can support BOI clients with  retreat or workshop programs and activity support. Her services include:

  • Talks & programs on Presence, Shifts & Changes
  • Leadership Development: Actualized Leadership Profile assessment tool
  • Group Culture Profile assessment tool
  • Systems Dynamics : DNA patterns in Individual and Organizational systems
  • Nature walks
  • Life Support Toolbox Program


Alan clearing debris from Ivy River.

Alan is a business and finance leader, experienced building collaborative teams and cultures. Extensive turnaround consulting experience also adds valuable insights in his role of stewarding companies – and places.

Night hike adventure to Hound Dog Hill – Alan, Susan and pup Jackson.

To “us” the owners, the real “us” includes the many people who have lived and worked here, past and present. “Us” includes the four-legged pets and farm animals (read: dogs and goats!) and the wild creatures that, with good fortune, may cross your path. And koi fish, dragonflies, and fireflies.

And, if you stretched even a bit beyond that, you may touch on the Sacredness of place. And if you touch on that, well… then you will have touched on Bend of Ivy.

Bend of Ivy Community

An amazing BOI team thoughtfully care for the land, buildings, culinary experiences and people.

Meet some of our Asheville venue support team below.  Some you may meet as you wander the land. (While creatures are loved, no pets allowed in the lodge buildings).


We have several wonderful approved catering teams to support client culinary needs when renting our venue. Long time BOI chef Dava Melton is one of our approved culinary chefs. Dava is intimately familiar with the Lodge, provides amazing meals at a reasonable price, and brings a loving presence to everything that she does. 

Dava photoa

Dava Melton

Clients are also welcome to do their own cooking, and if so, may rent the Lodge commercial kitchen. Most groups contract with one of our experienced catering teams. Amazingly good and nutritious food is key to a retreat or workshop experience.

Our teams work with clients directly to develop menus appropriate for tastes and group dietary needs, including vegetarian and vegan options.





Our knowledgeable grounds team includes Shane, Greg and the Goat Herd (they graze non-stop when not  playing) of Napolean, Chloe, Tia and the ‘kids’ Luna, Chaundra, Lily and Shakti. Occasional construction support happens with Mike, a visiting resource.

Shane & friends.


Jerry and Mike building hay shed.

Jerry and Mike building hay shed.



The herd waiting for food or friends.


Video of goats at play on new toy…..Goats on seesaw


Housekeeping & Other team members

Erin - our wonderful, organized housekeeper.

Erin, our organized housekeeper.

Our housekeeper Erin offers an organized, calm and friendly presence to clients. She’s thorough, and knowledgeable on healthy and environmentally safe products.

Assisting with emails, calls and inquiries for Bend of Ivy Lodge is Alexandra, our client and event coordinator. She offers friendly and thorough support to clients inquiring on our Asheville venue, and administrative support at BOI.



Loving the land is Jackson, our energetic border collie. Occasionally he may be seen jumping in the pond or darting on the land, when guests not on site.


Dobbie, happy and free.



An occasional visiting goat herder and greeter is beloved Dobbie.



Environmental Commitment

Bend of Ivy Lodge, an Asheville venue, is designed so that the buildings are integrated into, and supported by, the landscape and the natural world. We honor a spiritual imperative to conduct business in a way that participates in, and supports, global awareness and responsibility.DCIM100MEDIA

For us, environmental responsibility is a moral commitment, as well as a great learning and teaching opportunity. We are deeply committed to keeping our environmental footprint to a minimum.

Bend of Ivy Lodge also uses biological means to enhance and preserve healthy species diversity and control invasives. These include biological means of managing the pond ecosystem, releasing predator beetles to hopefully save our beautiful hemlock ecosystem from the HWA blight, and experimenting with goats to manage aggressive plants.

We offer a 10% discount to all environmental groups that stay at the Lodge. This includes activist groups, foundations, and environmentally-focused non-profits.


The visionary’s and founders of Bend of Ivy Lodge were Walker and Doug Silsbee. They restored a Marshall family working farm into a retreat center lodge and campus in 1996. Doug’s work as an author, workshop leader, and leadership coach was part of the energy surrounding Bend of Ivy’s development too. As founder of Presence-Based Coaching, and Presence-Based Leadership Development, his work continues with deep wonderful synergy at Bend of Ivy.

Bend of Ivy was a working farm for many years owned by George and Lucy Green and their six children. They lived here in an old log cabin that was moved and rebuilt here in the 1940’s. Remnants from their stone chimney are in the stone seat bench at the Rockery Pond.
The barn was built in 1950; the concrete block farmhouse in 1954. Tobacco was the financial mainstay, as with most farms in the mountains. There were cows, pigs, chickens, a potato field, a garden where the Pavilion stands now, and tobacco in the bottomland.
There was a corn crib (now the Boathouse) and several other sheds, now gone.
At the confluence of the their creek and the Ivy River, Native American pottery shards, arrowheads and other artifacts were found, indicating a probable Cherokee settlement.

Doug and Walker Silsbee bought the farm in 1996 from George and Lucy’s heirs. Walking the land on the day they closed, they stepped into the old barn and were inspired by visions of what it would become.Over 35 people contributed to a nine-month renovation. The Lodge itself is a symbol for transformation and renewal, and a reminder that in all of us is the possibility of evolving.


After learning of the lodge offering in January 2014, Alan and Susan visited Bend of Ivy mid-February meeting the property and Doug and Walker. After many deep and active conversations and explorations, a new stewardship and friendship was created. The lodge sale was finalized and the stewardship torch was passed in July 2014.