Thursday, August 29, 2013

Organic Broccoli Workshop and Field Day on Sept. 17

Event: Organic Broccoli Workshop and Field Day

Date:  September 17, 2013

Time:  10:00 am to 4:00 pm (bonus listening session runs till 5:00)

Location:   Mountain Research Station, 265 Test Farm Road,  Waynesville, NC 28786-4016.  A map with directions can be found at

Cost: $15

Are you interested in growing organic broccoli? Designed for the commercial grower, this workshop will also be of interest to the serious home gardener. We will start the morning with an organic broccoli taste test followed by presentations on the results from our participatory organic broccoli project, renowned organic grower, Pat Battle's perspective on growing organic broccoli, and the organic broccoli market situation. 

After a catered lunch, we will head out to the field to rate the side shoot production on our organic broccoli trial (this is the participatory part), followed by a visit to the large Eastern Broccoli Project field trials where new breeding lines are being tested. The latter is not an organic trial, but the new varieties should be of interest to everyone. Then we will return to the building for a moderated discussion on issues related to organic broccoli production, such as how to control harlequin bugs! The workshop will end at 4:00 pm, but Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is hosting a special focus group session afterward to get some feedback from growers on their new organic enterprise budgets (see below).


Pre-registration is required and should be done online through the CFSA online store at the following link: 

First-time registrants in this system simply create a guest user name and password by clicking the “New Visitor Registration” link when prompted to login.

 You are welcome to show up the day of the event without pre-registration, but we might not have a lunch for pre-registration is highly recommended!

The Organic Broccoli Project is led by Dr. Jeanine Davis with NC State University and funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation. This workshop is being done in cooperation with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is developing enterprise budgets for organic vegetable commodity crops. Crops include 1) Broccoli, 2) Summer Squash, 3) Tomatoes, 4) Cabbage, 5) Watermelon, 6) Irish Potatoes, 7) Sweet Potatoes, 8) Greens, 9) Leaf Lettuce, 10) Cucumbers

If you grow any of these crops and can assist by reviewing drafts of a few budgets, we will be holding a focus group meeting at the end of each workshop in order to get feedback from farmers.  Please contact CFSA's Farm Services Director, Karen McSwain, ( / cell: 828-423-2463) so that she can send you drafts of the budgets you are interested in reviewing prior to the workshop.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bioenergy-Biofuels Crops Field Day on Sept. 4

Event:              Western North Carolina Bioenergy Field Day

Date:              September 4, 2013

Time:               12:30 Registration, 1:00-5:00 Educational Presentations and Demonstrations

Contact:           Ron Gehl,, 828-684-3562 x129

North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services invite you to attend this event designed to provide a time for researchers to share the latest information of the work being conducted on energy crops in Western NC.  Tours of research plots and processing equipment demonstrations will help growers, researchers, and private industry interests learn how we are working to meet the state’s renewable fuels and energy goals of the future.  The afternoon event will cover topics including the science of cellulosic fuel production, production of energy grasses, cultural management of bioenergy crops, high-oil crops and biodiesel production, sorghum production for biofuels, breeding efforts  and genetic improvements of biomass crops. Speakers include NC State University researchers in Soil Science, Horticultural Science, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and Forestry and Environmental Resources, and biofuel industry representatives.  Field demonstrations will include small-scale gasification, oilseed crushing and biodiesel production, and sorghum harvest, squeezing, and distillation.  The field day is free and open to the public.  For more information, please visit or contact Ron Gehl at of 828-684-3562 x129.

Sept. 14 Event to Connect Medicinal Herb Growers with Buyers in the Region

What: Blue Ridge Naturally Workshop: Connecting Medicinal Plant Growers with Buyers

When:  September 14, 2013, 10 AM to 4 PM

Where: AB Tech Enka Campus, Haynes Conference Center, Room 200 , 1459 Sand Hill Rd. Candler, NC 28715

Cost:    $20 in advance; $25  at the door. Includes lunch catered by Gypsy Queen

On-line Registration: or contact Alison Dressler via email or at 828-684-3562 x 150.


Natural products manufacturers are looking for medicinal herb growers and local medicinal herb growers are looking for buyers. But how do they find each other?  This event will help connect current and potential medicinal plant growers with manufacturers and raw material buyers for the natural products industry in North Carolina. It will feature panels of four new and experienced medicinal herb growers and four natural products buyers/manufacturers to discuss their unique experiences, challenges, goals, and needs as it relates to natural products and raw materials. There will be ample time for networking between growers and buyers. If you are a grower, please bring a list of what you are growing, including quantities and what form you can supply them in (fresh or dried). If you are a medicinal plant buyer, please bring a list of what raw materials you want to source locally and in what quantity and form you need them.

We will also discuss the new Blue Ridge NaturallyTM branding effort, created to raise the awareness of the superiority of botanical raw materials and quality natural products (personal care, pet care, cleaning, tinctures and supplements, functional food and beverages) from the Blue Ridge Mountains region of North Carolina.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the natural products industry in Western North Carolina, this event is not to be missed! While the event will focus on medicinal plant cultivation, wild-harvesters are welcome and encouraged to attend.

If you would like to set-up a product or informational table for $10, please contact Alison Dressler via email or at 828-684-3562 x 150.

This event is made possible by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation.  Project partners include AdvantageWest, Bent Creek Institute, BioNetwork, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, NC Natural Products Association, NC State University, SBTDC, and US Botanical Safety Laboratory

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Do You Want to Produce Biodynamic Vegetables Commercially? A Survey for the Industry

Brad's Raw Foods is VERY interested in working with growers in western North Carolina to produce an abundance of biodynamic vegetables for their product line. I have also heard from other organic food processors that are interested in starting biodynamic lines to sell through Whole Foods.

On August 1, we held a Biodynamic Opportunities Workshop at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River, NC. Sponsored by Brad's Raw Foods and NC State University, Jim Fullmer of Demeter, the biodynamic certifying association and Coach Mark Smallwood with Rodale Institute shared a wealth of information about transitioning to biodynamic agriculture, the certification process, and the economic opportunity that is developing right now in our area.

If you are interested in potentially growing commercial biodynamic vegetables and/or just want to learn more about it, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey (if you didn't attend the workshop, just skip the first few questions). This will give us the information we need to estimate how much can be produced in this area next season. It will also put your name and email address on our biodynamic email list for notices about future meetings and requests for product. Everyone who takes the survey will have their name entered into a drawing for the book "The Polytunnel Handbook" by Andy McKee and Mark Gatter.

Link to Survey

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Acetic Acid (Vinegar) as an Herbicide

I was having a discussion with a colleague about organic agriculture the other day and the subject of weed control came up. Here is western North Carolina weed control is one of the major challenges in an organic system. He made the comment that there are no effective organic herbicides. I have tested a number of commercial organic herbicides and wasn't too impressed. The biggest problem I had with those herbicides was that for them to be effective they needed to be applied when the weeds were very small. I invariably missed that narrow window of weed size for effective control.

But in the past two years I've been reading about and hearing from growers about the effective use of vinegar for weed control. I remember trying household (5% acetic acid) vinegar years ago and not being impressed, but higher concentration products are now available. But do they really work?  Is there research to back it up?  I quick search of the literature (internet) showed that they can indeed be effective.

The study that I think demonstrated this very clearly and simply is this one from Cornell Extension:
Evaluation of acetic acid based herbicides for use in broad-spectrum turfgrass and weed control

Here is one from Canada:
Acetic Acid for Weed Control in Organic Potato

Another from Cornell University
Vinegar for Weed Control in Bell Pepper and Broccoli

And one by researchers in Egypt and Florida
Natural Herbicides

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sharing News Reports on the NC Beer and Hops Scene!

Kelly Gaskill studying the hops in our research hop yard. You can see how there are big differences in varieties. Compare the variety she is standing next beside to the one behind her. I know which one I would want to be growing!

I was reading my news clippings today and there were so many on beer and hops in NC in recent days, I just had to share.  What a happening place we are.  And the research hop yard got lots of attention at the Tomato and Vegetable Field at the research station yesterday, too.  Here are links to those articles and one radio piece:

Beer Brewing School Opening at Rockingham Community College

Fullsteam Brewery in Durham Looking for Locally Grown Hops

Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River Will Start Test Brewing Next Month

Farmers Hopping on Beer Bandwagon

Beer Camp Across America 2014 to Include Mills River Brewery

Monday, August 5, 2013

Organic Tomato Production Workshop-with farm visit and grafting demo

CFSA and NC State University Present:
Commercial Organic Tomato Production: 
Practical Strategies from Regional Organic Growers

When: August 15, 2013: 8:30 am—4 pm
Where: Meet at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center. 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759 
Directions at:
What: We will spend time in the field and greenhouse at The Living Web Educational Farm and In the classroom at the Research & Extension Center for this In-Depth Workshop.
Our focus will be on strategies to overcome common pitfalls in organic tomato production and disease management. This workshop is intended for commercial producers, so speakers will assume participants have a healthy baseline knowledge. Plenty of Time for questions!

Patryk Battle & Marshall Hagan (Living Web Farms): On-Farm Tour and Discussion, From seed to harvest. 
Jeanine Davis (NC State University Alternative Crops & Organic Extension Specialist): Tomato Production Systems Overview
Amanda Sizemore (Organic farmer, Cane Creek Farm): Disease Management
Tom Elmore (Organic farmer, Thatchmore Farm): Grafting Techniques

Cost: $12 (lunch from Laurie’s Catering) 

Registration Details: To register, you will need to access the CFSA online store (along linked above):

*Note: If you are a first-time registrants in our system, simply create a guest user name and password by clicking the “New Visitor Registration” link when prompted to login.

If you are a CFSA members or already in our system but you don't remember your password, click on the "Forgot your password?" link and follow the instructions. This will send an email to you, resetting your password so you can get into the system and register

Questions? Please seek the appropriate contact:

Registration: Anna MacDonald Dobbs: anna@carolinafarmstewards.org919-542-2402

Workshop content: Eric Soderholm,, 252-482-0696