Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 High Country Farm Tour a Success!

The Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s High Country Farm Tour was held August 7th and 8th. The tour featured 17 farms in Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties. Participants paid $20.00 per vehicle load to visit as many farms as possible for both days, and fun was had by all. Here’s what the tour guide states as the purpose of the tour, “The goal of this Farm Tour is to help connect you and your family with where your food comes from, who is growing it, and how it is being grown. Too often, when you ask children where food comes from, they say, “the grocery store!” Only two generations ago, most people grew up on farms and took part in food harvests on a regular basis. Local and organic food systems are critical to preserving our natural environment and resources and to achieving socioeconomic stability. From farmer to consumer, we all play a role in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.”
NC Cooperative Extension helped organize and sponsor this tour. Way to go, Ag. Girls!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

National Christmas Tree Association Farm Tour

Last week, Christmas tree growers from all over the United States converged on the High Country for farm tours as part of the 2010 National Christmas Tree Convention. Harry Yates, a Watauga County grower and member of the WCCTA, hosted a group out at his farm in Zionville where he demonstrated mistblowing and talked about pest and groundcovers for Christmas trees. Simon Smith of Wintergreen Farm and Scott Taylor of Stone Mountain Farm also assisted with the farm tour.  David Tucker, President of the WCCTA, also hosted a group on his choose-and-cut farm and corn maze that he's opening this year  Watauga County's Horticulture Agent, Meghan Baker, was on hand to discuss the importance of agritourism in the county as an added value effort for Christmas tree production.  David Tucker was also the winner of the NC Christmas Tree Association tree contest and will go up against other growers in 2011 to compete for the White House tree.

2010 Farm-City Celebration

The 55th Annual Farm City Celebration at the Blair Farm was a huge success. Despite a few intermittent showers, over 200 folks came out to celebrate Watauga County's agricultural heritage. Cecil Gurganis and his gang played bluegrass and mountain music unplugged under the hemlock tree, the Pasta Wench and Bare Essentials had local food samples on hand, miniature goats, alpacas, cows, donkeys and chickens got the kids' attention, and the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway helped participants celebrate the Parkway's 75th anniversary as well. The Historic Blair Farm in Boone was the chosen locale again for this year's celebration. Bandana's served up a delicious local foods dinner with potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, and strawberries from High Country growers, Charles Church and Ernie Dollar.

At the awards ceremony at 4pm, the annual champions of local agriculture were recognized for their commitment to the community:
*Friend of Agriculture Award: Watauga County Farmworker Health Program
*Youth in Agriculture: Nathan Bolick
*Urban Gardening Award: Megan Ward; Joanne Puliatti
*Cattlemen's Award: BW Miller
*Alimanestiano Agritourism Award: Dutch Creek Trails
*LE Tuckwiller Award: Operation Medicine Cabinet
*Community Volunteer Award: Dianne Brown
*Women in Agriculture: Jane Campbell and Nancy Moretz
*Farm and Food Steward Award: High Country CSA
*Beekeeper of the Year: Steve and Barbara Butler
*Youth Volunteerism Award: Matthew Michel
* Growing Healthy Communities Award: Recovery Education Center

Many thanks to Bandana's for catering the event and all of our sponsors: Triple T Pumping (for donating port-o-johns), Wachovia and BB&T Banks, Carolina Farm Credit, the Watauga County Farm Bureau, Bare Essentials, Southern Ag, the Boone-Blowing Rock Lodging Association, and Watauga County 4-H.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Organic 101 Workshop Series

Each year the Watauga Cooperative Extension service offers Organic 101 a workshop series designed to help gardeners grow sustainably without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Workshops are held at the Appalachian State University Teaching and Research Farm and Agroecology Laboratory located in Valle Crucis. Participants learn how to build and improve soils, design appropriate gardens for mountain landscapes and terrain, identify beneficial insects and pests and understand their dynamic interactions.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

4-H Super Summer

4-H Super Summer kept us busy exploring the community as we dug into gardening, hunted for insects, explored science in the kitchen and more. We searched local farms for ingredients for pizza and made our own pizza from scratch (we did Not eat Alpaca pizza!). Playing in the river was one of our favorite things to keep us cool in the hot weather. We made our own lotion, experimented with homemade rootbeer, made seed balls, planted Tickle Me plants and many other fun things to keep us active and involved.

4-H Summer Camp

Watauga County youth attended 4-H camp at Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H Center, near Reidsville, NC. They kept busy the entire week, canoeing in the lake, rock climbing, swimming in the new olympic sized pool, horseback riding and more!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wetland Plant Walk

After a year of growing and the recent summer rains, the constructed stormwater wetland in Boone is starting to mature. Join us for a plant identification walk on Wednesday, August 25, at 6pm. We will meet under the pavilion and walk around the wetland discussing the benefits of wetlands and viewing the lovely blooming vegetation. Please email to RSVP.

BigSweep River Clean Up 2010

Thank-you to all the volunteers who got stinky, dirty, and wet, picking up trash in the high country’s waterways in 2009. It is amazing what a group of people can accomplish in a few hours working together!

Volunteers set an all time record in 2009 with pounds of trash collected. 172 volunteers covered the river from Foscoe down to Guy Ford Rd in Bethel. Over 6,000 pounds of trash was extracted from the Watauga river and its banks. Everything from lawn mowers, car parts, bed springs, kids toys, construction materials, and of course a large volume of beer bottles and cans. Volunteers harvested 15 tires, some with the rims and hubcaps still in tact. The Riverkeeper and ASU Geography Club set up a Z-line to pull one of the tires out!

Watauga River Clean Up 2010 - September 25th
Contact Wendy Patoprsty at 264-3061 or to volunteer!

The Watauga River is our playground all year long, from swimming and tubing to fishing, lounging, birding, wading, photography, boating, and much more. It’s disappointing to see so much trash every year, but it is awesome to see the volunteers getting out there and cleaning up.

The Watauga County Cooperative Extension would like to thank all of 2009 Watauga River Clean Up Sponsors, Partners, and Volunteers; River and Earth Adventures, Appalachian Angler, Watauga River Anglers, Foscoe Fishing Company, Upper Watauga Riverkeeper, Watauga River Conservation Partners, High Country Waste Solutions, GDS, PACT, Footsloggers, EarthFare, Mast General Store, Watauga County Sanitation, MountainKeepers, Watauga County DOT, Valle Crucis Community Park, ASU Outdoor Programs, ASU Geography Club, ASU First Year Seminar Students, Teaching Fellows, The Outdoor Residential Learning Community, The ASU ACT program, and many many more community volunteers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Town of Boone Cistern

The Town of Boone Public Works Department (PWD) provides many services to town residents, including solid waste management, recycling programs, and street and facilities maintenance. Due to its high elevation, Boone is known for relatively harsh, cold winters and, on average, receives 102 centimeters of snowfall each year; therefore, snow and ice removal is a large component of the PWD’s responsibilities during the winter months. As part of their snow and ice removal process, the town of Boone applies a salt brine solution to roads before precipitation begins, which prevents ice from forming on the road surface. This brine solution is approximately 23% salt solution, or 6,000 lbs salt for every 2,000 gal of water. The PWD is responsible for approximately 80 mi of streets and 12 mi of sidewalk and uses an average of 50,200-60,760 gal of brine solution annually. In the spring and summer months, the PWD is responsible for maintaining town- owned landscapes, which includes irrigating flower beds and median strips, and periodic washing of vehicles and equipment is necessary for maintenance purposes. Approximately 30,115 gal of water is used for irrigation purposes during the non-winter months, roughly 35,900 gal is used for vehicle and equipment washing and about 59,970 gal is used for street sweeping and sidewalk washing.

The NCSU Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department received funding from a DENR, EPA 319 grant to install Rainwater Harvesting Systems (cisterns) as an innovative stormwater management practice in four cities across North Carolina. Boone was a recipient of one of the cisterns because of the collaborative efforts of Watauga County Extension and the Town of Boone. The cistern in Boone is buried about 5 ft in the ground for regulating temperatures and has a pump station to get the water where it needs to go. NCSU BAE has installed a data logger in the cistern to collect water usage data every 10 minutes.

This system provides water conservation, quantity and quality benefits for the Public Works compound. Over 31,000 gallons of stored rainwater was used in 2009 instead of potable water, saving approximately $242 per year. When this amount of water is captured instead of leaving the site as surface runoff, the amount of stormwater released to the drainage system is substantially reduced having a positive impact on local streams.