Thursday, May 7, 2015

Learn to garden this summer with Organic Gardening 101

Thursdays, May 28th – June 25th, 5:30 – 7, 2015 at the Agricultural Conference Center, Boone, NC
This series of classes is designed for those who would like to learn how to garden, or switch to organic methods. Taught by Extension agents and invited experts, the class will consist of lecture/discussion time and visits to local gardens on some weeks. Topics include tips on seed starting, soils tests and facts, container gardening, composting, organic vegetable pest and disease management, weed control and more. Cost is $20 for all 5 classes, which includes a reference notebook and pre-dinner snack. Reserve your spot in advance by paying the $20 to NCCES (North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service) at 971 West King St., Boone. 828-264-3061.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Warm Weather Brings Black Bear Sightings and Advisories

RALEIGH, N.C.  (March 31, 2015) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission advises that black bear sightings will become more common across the state as weather becomes warmer.
While black bears are not inherently dangerous and rarely aggressive toward people, the Wildlife Commission advises caution and using common sense to reduce the potential for problems.
If left alone, most transient bears will find their way quickly out of town and back to natural habitat. People are urged not to approach or follow bears, or put themselves between a bear and its possible escape route.
“Seeing a bear passing through a neighborhood can cause a lot of excitement,” said Ann May, the Wildlife Commission’s extension wildlife biologist. “But folks need to give a bear plenty of room and allow it to move out of the area freely. To prevent a dangerous situation, crowds should not gather nearby.”
The Wildlife Commission advises people to not feed bears, whether intentionally or inadvertently. Bears accustomed to feeding on pet food, table scraps, garbage and birdseed can lose their fear of humans resulting in property damage or other more serious problems. Suggested ways to avoid problems:
· Use bear-proof garbage cans or trash containers with a secure latching system.
· Keep trash inside as late as possible on pick-up days — don’t put trash curbside the night before.
· Take down birdfeeders, even those advertised as “bear-proof.”
· If you feed pets outside, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are promptly removed.
“It’s a good idea to clean food and grease from barbecue grills after each use,” May said. “Bears are attracted to food odors, so you don’t want to dispose of grease or cooking oil nearby. Be careful with food and food odors in vehicles, as well.”
The Wildlife Commission rarely traps and relocates bears. Relocation can be dangerous to personnel and the bear, and generally proves unsuccessful. Relocated bears often return to where they were originally captured. Additionally, there are few remote areas remaining in the state to which bears can be relocated. For more information, go to or call 919-707-0050.
About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit

Get N.C. Wildlife Update — news including season dates, bag limits, legislative updates and more — delivered free to your Inbox from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Go

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Join a CSA for ultra-fresh, locally grown food

by Margie Mansure, Extension Agent/Registered Dietitian
Looking forward to spring and the growing season, I am about to send my payment to join a Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. Most of the time, joining requires making a deposit now and full payment before receiving any product. But in general, farmers are some of the hardest working, most honest people I’ve ever come across. Paying at the beginning of growing season enables them to purchase seed and start production without having to take out a loan. Then for 20 weeks, I’ll get a share of just harvested, seasonal produce, and the challenge of cooking and consuming all of it. I look forward to that challenge, but most growers help out by providing recipes along with the abundance.
Shopping at a farmers’ market is often a social time and a great way to get to know who grows your food. Some CSA programs deliver at the market, but also offer another delivery option. If you find shopping on Saturday morning inconvenient, joining a CSA may be a better way to get your nutrition through ultra-fresh, locally grown food.
Creeksong Farm
Lasts for 20 weeks, beginning in early June. Tuesday pickups will begin June 2rd, 2015 and end October 13th at the Agricultural Conference Center loading dock or at the farm in Creston. Another option for pick up is at the Watauga farmers’ market on Saturdays. 
Pay a 50% deposit as soon as possible to reserve a space, with the total cost due by May 1st.
Full shares cost $500.00 and receive $25.00 worth of food each week.
Half shares cost $300.00 and receive $15.00 worth of food each week.
Vegetarian shares are available. On weeks when beef and/or eggs are included, vegetarian shares will get more produce to make up the difference in cost. Participants are allowed a one week vacation credit for produce at the farmers’ market.
Jeff and Betty Thomas,, (336)385-6302

High Country CSA
This multi-farm CSA will deliverer weekly at a central location in Boone from June 3rd through October 14th. Total payment is due by June 1st. A regular sized share is $500 and great for families of three or more. A small sized share is $350 and great for a single adult or a couple. If you are eligible for EBT, WIC, or free and reduced lunch, you may qualify for the cost share program. By joining the cost share program, a regular share is $200 and may even be paid for with EBT benefits every week ($10 per week). A small sized share is $100 and costs $5 per week with EBT. For more information, contact Elliott,,

Lively Up Farm
Delivery will be at the Watauga County farmers’ market, with another option being considered, starting mid to late May and lasting for 20 weeks. Every share will contain at least 4 to 5 varieties of vegetables. Full shares cost $500 and receive $25 of vegetables weekly. A $300 share is also available, with $15 of vegetables weekly.
Matt Cooper,, 828-773-5893

North Fork Farm
Participants receive a monthly delivery of different cuts of beef, pork and chicken from 4:30 – 5 pm at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone beginning April 13th through August 10th.  Half share members receive a 7 to 10 lb. box monthly at a cost of $350 for the contract period, working well for single persons, couples or small family. Full share members receive 17 to 20 lb. box monthly at a cost of $600, working well for families of 3 or more.
Jimmy or Shelia Greene,, 828-297-5755.

Springhouse farm
Certified organic farm offering a half share, approximately $15 worth of vegetables each week for $300. A full share provides approximately $25 worth of vegetables each week for $500.
You may choose to pick up at the Watauga County farmers’ market or on Tuesdays at the farm in Vilas between 12 and 6. Email:,

Wild Pilgrim Homestead
The CSA box includes a great variety. No up front payment is required, and you can place orders weekly as you need them. The CSA is year round, delivering Thursdays at Boone Visitors Center from 4:30 until 5:25. $25 per week. Maintain a Facebook page. Bonnie or Jason Lewis, (828) 455-7808,
Disclaimer: there may be CSAs that I have not heard about. I don't intentionally leave anyone off! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Nominations are being sought for a $750 scholarship offered by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Administrative Professionals Association (NCCEAPA) through March 17, 2015.  The scholarship is available to North Carolina residents pursuing a college degree (Associates and/or Bachelors) in business or a business-related field of study.  Applicants must be enrolled to attend classes at a college during the 2015-2016 school year.

The scholarship is awarded annually to honor the work and dedication of Edith Herter and Frances O'Neal, co-leaders in forming the NCCEAPA in 1973.

Qualified applicants interested in applying for this scholarship can obtain an application packet by contacting the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Watauga County Center, at 828-264-3061 or by visiting the center at 971 West King Street in Boone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shade Your Stream Livestake Giveaway

Looking for something “Green” to do on the first day of spring this year?  If so, you are in luck!  

On March 21, 2015 from 10:30 am – 2:00pm, the Watauga County Cooperative Extension and Watauga River Partners are hosting a native plant demonstration and give-away for residents in the High Country.   All are welcome, but must register in order to receive free plants and lunch.   In partnership with the Appalachian Water Project, a joint venture between Wine to Water and Appalachian Mountain Brewery (AMB), workshop participants can walk away with tips on how to care for their stream/river, free native vegetation (live stakes), and a happy belly. 

Across Western North Carolina, streambank erosion—and the resulting build-up of sediment in stream channels—is having negative impacts on water quality and habitat for “critters”, including trout that live in the streams.   Live stakes are an effective way to reduce streambank erosion.   At this point you may be wondering, “What is a live stake?”  It is a long hardwood cutting from a native shrub, adapted to moist conditions, planted outdoors without rooting hormones.   In this area, we use silky dogwood, elderberry, ninebark, silky willow, and buttonbush. 
Participants from past workshop installing livestakes on the creek.
These woody plants have extensive root systems that stabilize the soil on stream banks during rainfall and high water flow.  The shade produced by the shrubs help maintain the cooler temperatures that our mountain fish and aquatic life need to survive, while the leaves help provide habitat and food for insects and fish. (Leaves fall into the stream, aquatic insects eat and live in the leaves, trout eat the insects) “Shading Your Stream” with vegetation is really important because it acts as a filter to prevent sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pathogens, and heavy metals from entering our rivers.

The event will be held at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center where experts from the New River Conservancy, the Watauga River Partners, and Watauga County Cooperative Extension will share tips on stream care and available programs that can help landowners.  If you are unfamiliar with how to install livestakes, we will demonstrate by planting a 20ft section of Kraut Creek during the day. 

Interested in participating and receiving free plants for your creek bank?  Please call the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center at (828) 264-3061, or email  The workshop will begin at 10:30 am at 252 Poplar Grove Rd in Boone. 

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
                                                                                                            ---- Wendell Berry