Thursday, April 21, 2011

About those medicinal herbs I had available (and other opportunities)!


I have been overwhelmed by the response to my notice yesterday about the offer I made yesterday for folks to come dig woodland herbs for $5 a bucket. Considering the number of people who say they are coming out today, I think all the herbs will be dug by the end of the day.  So please call if you are coming after about 1:00 so I can let you know if there are any left or not.

Many of the people who have called and emailed me over the past 24 hours have also indicated that they would like to start an herb business of some sort, volunteer in my program, get involved with local herb organizations, or take some classes.  I would love to communicate with more of you about some of that!  We will be offering workshops and trainings in the coming months through the WNC Natural Products Project.  State budget cuts have severely reduced our staff resources, so we are looking to start a volunteer program.  If you are interested in any of these, please follow me on one or more of the social media links:

There also is a little workshop here this afternoon for people who are interested in wild harvesting food products.  Some folks also want to talk herbs, so we will break out separately to have that discussion: 

April 21, 2011

WNC Wild Harvest Organizational Meeting  2:00 - 4:00 PM
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC - Directions

Do you harvest native plants for income? Do you own land that grows native plants well and wonder if income from them is feasible? Want to be part of a network that locates and markets native forest foods, sustainably? Are you interested in learning from trained wild harvesters?

A group of wild harvesters and foragers called Wild Harvest WNC are forming a collaborative marketing network to promote and expand the market for wild food products.

Purposes of the meeting are to organize as a group and develop a network of interested parties; to develop a marketing strategy for sustainably harvested wild foods; to increase the varieties and volumes of products; to expand the market locally and regionally; to involve landowners who will allow wild harvesting; and to discuss ethical and sustainable harvesting techniques and pertinent regulations.

For more information please call Sue Brown or Ed Mayer at 828.505.1080 or email at ednsue74@earthlink.net No registration fee. Light snacks provided.

Cheers!  Jeanine


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WNC Wild Harvest Organizational Meeting

April 21, 2011
2:00 - 4:00 PM
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC

Do you harvest native plants for income? Do you own land that grows native plants well and wonder if income from them is feasible? Want to be part of a network that locates and markets native forest foods, sustainably? Are you interested in learning from trained wild harvesters?

A group of wild harvesters and foragers called Wild Harvest WNC are forming a collaborative marketing network to promote and expand the market for wild food products.

Purposes of the meeting are to organize as a group and develop a network of interested parties; to develop a marketing strategy for sustainably harvested wild foods; to increase the varieties and volumes of products; to expand the market locally and regionally; to involve landowners who will allow wild harvesting; and to discuss ethical and sustainable harvesting techniques and pertinent regulations.

For more information please call Sue Brown or Ed Mayer at 828.505.1080 or email at ednsue74@earthlink.net. No registration fee. Light snacks provided.

Directions:  http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/directions.html

Construction of the Research Hop Yard Has Begun!

People have been asking me when we were going to build the research hop yard we've been talking about!  It's finally happening, right now; and here are a few pictures to show you how we are doing it.

Look at these beautiful locust poles that Ian Snider with
the Draftwood Coalition-NC Division had horse loggers harvest for us! 

My staff and the research station staff have just been amazing on this project. We don't really have any hop growing experts in this immediate region, so we are learning as we go. Our local hop growers have been so helpful. They've let us visit their sites, study their designs, and have answered many phone calls and emails. We are trying to make this hop yard compliment the one constructed last year on the NC State Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory in Raleigh by Rob Austin and Scott King (http://nchops.soil.ncsu.edu/). We are working together on this statewide hop project and both yards are designed to help our young hop industry answer questions on how to grow the best hops in the Southeast. But the Raleigh hop yard is 12 feet tall, which is shorter than the conventional hop trellis. Rob and Scott cite their reasons for building a shorter trellis and I think we will gain valuable information from that. But our local growers, who have been producing for 2-4 years now, seem convinced that a tall trellis increases yields. So we went with a 20 foot trellis.


The research station crew did a fabulous job erecting the poles; being inspected by a very pregnant Amy!

The pictures here represent several months of work on the part of my new employee, Kelly Gaskill and two of our research station staff (I haven't asked them if I can put their names online or not; so they will remain nameless right now). With no prior experience with growing hops, Kelly studied hop yards from across the world (via the internet), visited local hop yards, drew out many plans, and sourced materials. Now they are all in the field, making those plans a reality.

Emily found having a generator on site was very helpful for operating all the power equipment.

We thank the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services for the USDA Specialty Crops Block grant that is funding the establishment of this research hop yard and our continued work with our cooperating hop farmers, Van Burnette, Julie Jensen, Rita Pelczar and John Wright, and Stephanie Willis. This project is tightly linked with the one Rob Austin leads with funding from the GoldenLeaf Foundation. Sue Colucci, Henderson Co. Extension, Hannah Burrack, Extension entomologist on campus, and Bill Yarborough, NCDA&CS agronomist, are also involved so we can help advise growers on disease and insect control, soil fertility, and all other aspects of production. Please see my other blog posts on hops to get information on others working with this industry including Chris Reedy at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Sarah Schober at the Natural Products Laboratory, and Melinda Roberts and Tim Mathews with Extension.
This was the tractor mounted auger that was used for digging the post holes.

Vicky drilled the holes for the hardware before we set the poles in the ground!


Kelly attaching the hardware.

Close up of some of that hardware.


These anchors are here to stay!

Now the cables are being attached.

Stay tuned for frequent updates!  Planting should take place next week.





Help me out! Come dig some medicinal herbs.

This is the shade structure & what the plants looked like last spring (there are lots of weeds in there now)
Our medicinal herb research program is undergoing some changes.  As part of the process, we are moving all the herbs we’ve been growing under an artificial shade structure (for 19+ years) to the woods. With the help of the Henderson County Master Gardeners, we moved all that we intend to move, but there is lots of material left.  We intend to take the structure down and till the area up, so any plant material that is still there will be destroyed.  I hate to see that happen!  So, if you are interested in digging some of these herbs, for replanting or for using as medicine, you can come out to the research station and get it.  There is lots of mayapple and black cohosh, a little goldenseal, wild ginger, and bloodroot, a few ramps, and maybe some other plants I didn’t notice.  Bring your own digging tools, gloves, and buckets.  The price is $5 per bucket (you bring your own bucket).  The money will go to the research station operations. 

You are welcome to come dig tomorrow and Friday (April 21 and 22), and if there is material left, on Monday (April 25).  Please call me before you come at 684-3562 so we can make sure to have someone out there.

The research station is located near the Asheville airport.  Directions are here:  http://www.ncagr.gov/research/mhcrs.htm

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Horticulture Industries and NC State University
Horticultural Science Department:

A Partnership That Works!
2010 Workshop at the new Organic Research Unit in Waynesville

North Carolina’s diverse horticulture industry impacts every county in the state.  As the state’s agricultural industry evolves to meet changing economic conditions, scores of farmers enter horticultural crop production, creating on-farm and off-farm jobs in many rural areas.  Most horticultural businesses are small, family owned companies – the sector which will help lead NC out of the recession.  The NCSU Horticultural Science Department is working for NC and for NC’s horticultural industries. 

How important is horticulture to North Carolina:
  • NC’s Green Industries contributed $8.6 billion dollars and 151,982 jobs to the state in 2005, with $912 million in sales at the farm alone in 2009.
  • NC’s horticultural vegetable, fruits and nut crops had $511 million in sales at the farm alone in 2009 (economic impact values not available).
  • Greenhouse and nursery crops rank third in NC agricultural statistics, after broilers and hogs for the top agricultural industries (2009).
  • NC produces 47% of the nation’s sweet potatoes (Ranked #1 in U.S.).
  • NC produces 24% of the nation’s Christmas trees (Ranked #2 in U.S.).
  • NC is the third largest producer of processing cucumbers.
  • NC is the fourth largest producer of greenhouse crops, nursery crops, and fresh market cucumbers
  • NC has the largest single greenhouse in the U.S. and one of the most modern greenhouse production facilities worldwide, located north of Charlotte in Huntersville.
  • NC is in the top ten states for production of blueberries, cabbage, tomatoes, snap beans, apples, bell peppers, squash, watermelons, and grapes
  • The NC peach industry generates more than $11-15 annually selling high-quality peaches directly to consumers.
  • The organic industry is the fastest growing segment of agriculture, with NC certified or exempt farms accounting for 9,600 acres and $53 million in sales in 2008.
  • An astonishing array of specialty horticulture and natural products are being grown in NC, ranging from heirloom tomatoes to herbs to fresh cut flowers.  These small but fast growing industries are hard to track, but gross returns can reach up to $40,000/acre.  One example is the hops industry, which has increased from 1 grower in 2007 to 20 growers today, producing hops for 48 registered breweries and home brewers.

How NC State University has benefited horticultural industries:
  • MCP (SmartFresh), an anti-ethylene agent, that was developed at NCSU has revolutionized the apple industry, both in NC and worldwide, and was adapted for industry use by Horticultural researchers.  It is considered the most significant development in postharvest research – for all crops and for basic science - in the last 30 years.  The technology is also used in other horticultural postharvest applications such as cut flowers.
  • NCSU varieties of sweet potatoes are planted on approximately 80% of the acres in NC.
    • Covington alone provided $150 million in gross revenue to the sweet potato industry in 2010.
  • Plants released by the JC Raulston Arboretum at NCSU have contributed $10.5 million/year to the ornamental nursery industry.
  • NCSU varieties of blueberries are planted on approximately 68% of the blueberry acres in NC.
    • NCSU varieties of blueberries provided approximately $33 million in gross revenue to North Carolina farmers in 2010.
o   NCSU blueberry variety O’Neal was the most widely planted variety in warm blueberry production areas worldwide in 2005.
·         The percent of NC tomato acreage planted to NCSU varieties in 2010: Approximately 60%.
o   The gross revenue of NCSU’s tomato varieties in 2010: $17 million.
·         NCSU breeding is reviving the raspberry industry in western NC with the new variety, Nantahala, released in 2007.
·         NCSU peach breeders and researchers have developed profitable peach varieties and management strategies.
·         New NCSU varieties of ornamentals such as butterfly bush, redbud, hydrangea, flowering quince, summersweet, hypericum, pearlbush, and sweetshrub support NC’s $777 million dollar (farm gate) nursery crop industry.

How NC State University Horticultural Science Department is responding to the challenges:
  • NCSU’s Horticultural Science Department was ranked among the top three departments in the country in 2010 by an independent review team.
  • Horticulture Researchers have generated an average of $5 million / year in outside funding to support their programs.  One researcher alone has raised $5.2 million over the last ten years in National Science Foundation funding and $483 thousand in USDA/AFRI funding.
  • The Department has developed a distance education curriculum, two certificate programs and one new distance education Master program to meet the horticulture education needs of NC citizens, many of whom are taking courses from their homes and offices. 
  • Over the last 20 years, the department has graduated over 1900 undergraduate students, 900 in our 4-year Bachelor of Science program and 1000 in our 2-year Associate Degree program.  In the past five years alone, 200 received their Bachelors degree, and 110 received their Associate's degree.  In the last 10 year, the Graduate Program has completed 125 MS and PhD students.  Many of the leaders in our horticultural industry are NC State Horticulture graduates.
  • The Master Gardener program has trained thousands of volunteers across the state to provide information to the public.  In 2007 (most recent year for data), there were 4,084 Master Gardeners, 774 trained just that year.  They answered 69,563 phone calls, examined 18,182 plant samples and coordinated 250 demonstration gardens, 97 school gardens and 494 school programs.  Estimated value of services and funds raised to North Carolina:  $4.4 million.
  • NCSU has created the Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis to bring together Horticulture Scientists with researchers from a broad range of other fields to develop mainstream fruit and vegetable produce with enhanced health benefits and introduce new and underappreciated crops and products.
  • Faculty at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center provide high quality research and extension programs for the people of western North Carolina.
  • In 2010, the NC Pesticide Safety Education Program provided state-wide educational programs on proper pesticide handling that were attended by 4,812 agricultural producers. These programs meet federal and state requirements for recertification of nearly 40% of our state's farmers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

If You Value NCSU Agriculture Research & Extension, We Need Your Support Now

Nancy Creamer, director for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, sent out this message over the local food listserv today.
Dean Johnny Wynne, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU, is asking that you contact the legislators in your voting districts with the below  message regarding the state budget, and to take the following actions:
“I am a supporter of local foods and the state-wide initiative to increasing local foods consumption in the state.  Local foods play a key role in providing nutritious, safe and healthy foods to consumers; supporting the economy and protecting the environment.    I ask that you minimize reductions of the NCSU Agricultural Program that supports our valuable agricultural research and extension programs”

Dean Wynne is requesting that our supporters take the following action:
  1. Identify members in the NC General Assembly from your voting district, both in the House and Senate.  You may  use the following web link to access contact information for all members of the NC General Assembly:  http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/
  2. Prepare hand-written letters (avoid email or appearance of form letters) to your members of the NC House of Representatives and Senate if possible.
  3. Prepare talking points to use in a personal telephone call to your members of the General Assembly and make the calls, and finally,
  4. Go to the following URL to access a simple survey to indicate to us that you made contact with your members of the General Assembly with your message:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/G9ZWTTSResults of this survey will help us determine the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts and where we may need to increase our efforts.