Saturday, November 28, 2009

Southeastern Vegetable & Fruit Expo is Next Week!

Kingston Plantation-location for the 2009 Expo (Photo from NCVGA website)

The 2009 Southeastern Vegetable and Fruit Expo will be held December 1st and 2nd at the Embassy Suites Resort, Kingston Plantation, Myrtle Beach, SC.  This will be the 24th Expo and it promises to be a wonderful educational experience for all fruit and vegetable growers.  There will be tracks on all the major commodities as well as ones devoted to transitioning to organics (led by yours truly), water quality and traceability, local food production and marketing, and nutrient management.  The program, directions, and hotel information are all available on the NC Vegetable Growers Association website.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cane Creek Asparagus & Company

Goodies from the Cane Creek CSA.  Photo from their website.
Glenda Ploeger and her husband Robert run a delightful little family farm in Fairview, NC just outside of Asheville.  Even though I have never visited the farm personally, I have followed its progress through the years as it has developed from growing asparagus primarily for sale to restaurants to now being a premium CSA farm with a regional reputation.  They are one of the few CSA's I know that can say that is the only way they sell their produce! They grow over 60 varieties of vegetables on six acres and obviously do so with great care and attention.  Just read the multitude of reviews from their CSA customers; they love the service and the produce.  Glenda and Robert supply  their customers with newsletters and recipes and have a nice little feature on their website; a vegetable identification guide with pictures of all the vegetables and their names.  Gives you a good idea of what you will get if you purchase a share in their CSA!  They are entering their tenth year as a CSA, growing their food in an intentional, sustainable manner, using an integrated pest management strategy.  I suggest you check out their website.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Broadwing Farm & Naturalbath Cabins

Photo of Poplar Cabin from Broadwing Farm Naturalbath Cabins website
I have known Pete and Mary Dixon of Broadwing Farm in Hot Springs, NC for probably twenty years.  Theirs was one of the first organic farms that I visited when I moved to North Carolina.  Pete and his family have been growing organic vegetables and herbs for a very long time.  A fixture at the tailgate market in Asheville, they were one of the first organic farms to seriously get into making value-added products.  They have branched out into blackberries and some flowering nursery plants.  They also run a successful agritourism business by renting out three cabins with hot tubs filled with the natural hot springs water famous in their community.  They produce their crops using what most of us would consider organic production methods, but they are not certified organic.  It is a beautiful place to spend a leisurely weekend anytime of the year. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grow Your Own Heirloom Apple Trees

Through my daily conversations with people from all over the country, I've learned that most people are completely unaware of the amazing diversity of fresh farm products that are available in North Carolina.  Even though there are all kinds of wonderful websites, food guides, and local food programs, not everyone knows about them.  So, I'd like to help at least reach the folks who read my websites, blogs, tweets, etc.  Periodically, I plan to highlight a farm that I know of.  This is the first of what I hope to be a long series.

Big Horse Creek Farm
Specializing in Antique and Heirloom Apple Trees

Ron and Suzanne Joyner.  Photo from their website.

Today I would like to start with Big Horse Creek Farm located in the high country of Western North Carolina in Lansing.  I can't recall when I first met Suzanne and Ron Joyner, but last October they helped with our organic extension agent training.  They provided delicious apples for our enjoyment and participated in a panel discussion on organic farming.

Suzanne and Ron run a very specialized nursery offering grafted antique and heirloom apple trees.  Their goal is to preserve the wonderful old varieties from the past for future generations to enjoy.  They have a HUGE master list of varieties with wonderfully colorful names.  Their website provides good information on the varieties they have for sale, the rootstocks used, and detailed information on how to grow the young trees.  There is a detailed organic spray program and instructions on how you can collect scion wood from an apple tree that you want so they can propagate it for you.  One year old trees are very reasonably priced at $20 each, with discounts for large orders.  There's lots of great information on their website, so plan to spend a little time there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

WNC Ag Options Dinner Was Amazing!

Skipper Russell's lettuce field.  Photo by Megan Riley from website
Last night I had the honor of attending the WNC Ag Options Celebratory dinner for the 2009 grant recipients.  What an amazing event that was!  Megan Riley, program manager, MC'd the evening.  First she told the story of how she collected the food for the dinner earlier that week from current and former WNC Ag Options grant recipients.  This was illustrated with beautiful pictures from the farms.  Then four of the grant recipients told their stories of their experiences this past year fulfilling their grant obligations.  Two of them were local hop growers that I have worked closely with, one was a vegetable grower who is now producing large scale lettuce, and another put up a solar powered greenhouse.  Then everyone got a chance to say a few words about what they did with their grant money.  It was very inspiring to hear their stories and see what a difference a little bit a money can make in peoples' lives.

Then we got on to the good part.  Eating.  The food was prepared by two local women who, with some help from Megan, spent several days peeling, chopping, and cooking.  Pies, cornbread, and some delicious jelly and jam were also provided by one of the grant recipients.  We started out with hot cider, crackers, and lots of yummy cheeses from Spinning Spider Creamery.  The main dinner included beef stew and an incredible chicken pot pie, collards, roasted vegetables, a delicious kale "quiche-like" casserole, spiced beets, and cooked apples.  It was all very good, and there were enough leftovers for all of us to take some home.

What a great way to celebrate a successful project and honor all the grant recipients for the hard work they had done all year.  My hat is off to Megan Riley, Rob Hawk, and Ross Young who lead this project, and all the other Extension personnel who are, and have been, involved in organizing and administering this mini-grant program for our local farmers.

You can read more about the program and all the grant recipients from this year and previous years on the WNC Ag Options website.  If you want to apply for one of these grants, you have about another week to submit your letter of intent.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lots of Great Agriculture Events Coming Up

I've recently discovered that if you are a regular blogger, tweeter, and Facebooker, and you don't post for a few days, people get very concerned.  It's really nice to know I've missed!  Thank you.  I apologize for not posting for a week, but as is the case for most of you, I'm trying to do the jobs of several people at one time and sometimes I just can't keep up with it all! 

Today I just want to remind you that there are a whole bunch of events coming up in the next two months related to agriculture, farm protection, hops, organics, and fruit & vegetable production.  I've posted a bunch of them, particularly for the western part of the state, on our events calendar at  So check it out; here is your opportunity to meet with the experts and other farmers doing just what you might want to do.

Because there is so much interest in hops right now, I do want to remind you that there will be a hops production meeting on November 18th in Waynesville.  Here are the details:

November 18, 2009Hops Production Meeting

1:00 to 5:00 pm

Camp New Life at the Mountain Research Station

Waynesville, NC

Are you interested in growing hops? We've pulled together a group of horticulture experts, hops growers, and other knowledgeable individuals to explain what is involved in growing hops, what the current and projected market situation is, our best estimates of the economics of local production, and how we can all work together to grow the WNC hops industry. Several local commercial hops growers will share their perspectives after a year or two of production. For more information, contact or Meeting fee is $5; pay at the door. Cash only, please. Please RSVP to the Haywood County Extension Office at 828-456-3575 or Directions: