Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cove Creek Farm Heritage Day Plant Clinic & Seed Swap: Saturday, September 17 2011

The Cove Creek Farm Heritage Day is one of the finest Harvest Festivals of the High Country, held at the Historic Old Cove Creek High School, and featuring many old-timey skills and activities. This year, Cooperative Extension and local farmers will join-in to host animal displays, lessons on small fruit production, a plant clinic, and a seed swap. So save the date, and start saving seeds, bulbs, and other plants to share then! Stay tuned for more information on the day and which seeds are easiest and most suitable to swap.

Extension Hosts Tier-2 Fresh Produce Safety Training for Growers September 27, 2011

Boone , N.C. – N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family is a new N.C. Cooperative Extension program developed to educate fruit and vegetable growers about measures to minimize food safety risks. The training focuses on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and managing risks from field to market.  The training consists of nine modules, broken into Tier 1 and Tier 2, addressing specific areas of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) that together provide a comprehensive curriculum developed by leading researchers and Cooperative Extension specialists at N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University.  

NC Fresh Produce Safety Task Force will conduct the Tier 2 N.C. MarketReady training workshop on Tuesday, September 27th, from 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd. Boone, NC 28607.  Building upon the Tier 1 lessons, Tier 2 will address risk identification and management issues including transportation and traceability, product recalls, liability and insurance options, and developing a crisis strategy. The cost for the course is $10 per person, and includes a resource notebook and a catered lunch. Pre-registration is required, and can be done by calling the Watauga County Cooperative Center at 828-264-3061.

This workshop will benefit not only growers and packinghouse managers, but also wholesalers and transportation managers who all play an integral role in maintaining the safety of fresh produce as it moves from the field to the consumer. Currently, GAPs certification is voluntary for North Carolina farmers, though outbreaks of food-borne illness in other parts of the country have resulted in increased pressure for all farmers to become certified. All farmers residing in Alleghany, Ashe, or Watauga Counties who complete both a Tier 1 (offered in Jefferson, NC on August 30, 2011) and this Tier 2 training will be entered into a drawing for one of 10 awards of $500 that can be used toward GAP certification expenses or related equipment.

The development of the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family Initiative was funded with grants from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), NC Rural Economic Development Center and USDA Risk Management Agency.  N.C. Cooperative Extension faculty developed these resources as part of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force. For more information contact Richard Boylan, 828-264-3061,  . Learn more at

N.C. Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. It has programs in all 100 counties and the Cherokee Reservation. Learn more at This course is co-sponsored by the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant through the Appalachian District Health Department and US Department of Health and Human Services.

Broccoli Field Day in Valle Crucis: Monday, August 15

On Monday, August 15, from 3 PM to 6:30 PM, North Carolina Cooperative Extension will lead a Specialty Crops Field Day on the production of Broccoli and related Brassica Crops in the High Country region. This region of western NC is one of the few areas of the south that can produce cool-season crops such as broccoli during the months of July, August and September. The Field Day will be held at Watauga River Farms, located at 2953 NC Hwy 194 S, Sugar Grove, NC 28692. Farm-owner Charles Church has grown and sold broccoli since the 1980’s, and is a founding member of Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO) and the New River Organic Growers (NROG) Cooperative.

The Field Day will include a discussion of Broccoli Varieties suitable for market production in the High Country. Watauga River Farms is presently growing Blue Wind and Arcadia, while the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC is testing 36 varieties of broccoli, in its role as the North Carolina site for the East Coast Broccoli Project. Dr. Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist with NC State University, and Emily Bernstein, Project Coordinator at the Mountain Organic Research & Extension Program, will discuss their work with this research project. Other speakers for the day will include Dr Jim Walgenbach of the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center of NC State University on insect management in broccoli crops, Richard Boylan of Watauga County Cooperative Extension on Disease Management in broccoli crops, and Charles Church on post-harvest handling of broccoli crops. The day’s speakers will jointly address issues of fertility, weed-management, and cultivation of broccoli, and participants will have the opportunity to scout the growing broccoli crops at the farm.

This Field Day is free and open to members of the public, thanks to a Specialty Crops Block Grant Award from USDA and NCDA. All who attend will receive a resource packet on broccoli production, and farmers attending will also be entered into a drawing to win valuable books and other materials on Brassica disease identification. Pre-registration is recommended. For more information or to pre-register, call the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Office at 828-264-3061.

Tomato High Tunnel Field Day August 14

On Sunday, August 14, Tumbling Shoals Farm will be hosting a field day on using high tunnels for disease prevention in organic tomato production.  Tumbling Shoals Farm recently installed a multi-bay 90 by 100 foot Haygrove high tunnel and has seen significant improvement in tomato yield and quality.  Come at 4:00 PM for a tour and discussion, and stay for a cook out with the farmers.  Bring a side dish if you want.  Directions are on the website,  Please RSVP to or call 336-452-0919.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Farmworker Safety Day

Over 70 Christmas tree growers, workers, and industry partners attended the Farmworker Safety Day held this week in Foscoe. The North Carolina Department of Labor and Watauga Cooperative Extension co-organized the event which was aimed at giving Latino farmworker workers and crew-leaders a refresher course on various aspects of Christmas tree farm safety. Groups of participants rotated through eight stations that were set up around the grounds of Hawk Mountain Nursery. Several representatives from other agencies were also on hand including the NC Farmworker Health Program, the NCDA Pesticide Section and the Foscoe Fire Department.

At the pesticide safety station, Charles Clark & Travis Snodgrass (NCDA) demonstrated proper use and storage of respirators and discussed pesticide labels. Mountain Conifer Hort Specialist, Jill Sidebottom went over some of the different chemicals and application methods used in the Christmas tree industry and what personal protective equipment should be used for each. Watauga County Extension Director, Jim Hamilton, translated.

Department of Labor Inspectors provided information to growers on housing regulations and hazardous communication protocols and also demonstrated proper chainsaw and heavy equipment safety. Brad Edwards, a technician with Cooperative Extension, gave a shearing safety demonstration and the Foscoe Fire Department instructed farmworkers on the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers and alarms. Wiley Gimlin, the bilingual owner of Omni Farms in Ashe County, gave a talk on tree baler and elevator safety. Southern Ag, Carolina Farm Credit, the NC Christmas Tree Association and Hawk Mountain Nursery sponsored the event and provided generous support for lunch for all participants.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Advisory Luncheon and Focus on the Women of Family and Consumer Science

Watauga Cooperative Extension hosted their summer Advisory Leadership Council lunch meeting at the Ag Conference Center this week. A wonderful meal was prepared by the Watauga Extension and Community Association. A local veggie lunch was prepared by club members that included beans, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes from local farms and homemade desserts. Former County Extension Director Sue Counts led the program and showed slides of the Family and Consumer Science Centennial Celebration that was held in May. She also discussed fundraising efforts that ECA and FCS have been involved with over the years.

Monday, July 11, 2011

4-H Winners

4-H offers many opportunities for youth to develop skills in addition to learning about many different topics.  So, if someone loves insects, they can choose insects as a project and explore all sorts of things about insects.  Then, they can share with others what they have learned through the project record program. 4-H'ers record what has been accomplished with the project for the year.   They are encouraged to set goals, record what they have done, plus do community service, teach others, and do something in the area of citizenship.

Through the project record process, youth make a portfolio-like document recording what they have learned.  They turn these in at the end of the year.  These records are inspiring to look at.  Participants receive acknowledgment and pride for a job well done.  District competition winners earn recognition money.

Two Watauga County youth recently won at the district level.  Emily Cornett received a silver award for her project record and Leslie Cornett won a gold.  Both explored the category of communications and expressive arts.   


4-H Presentations

Another skill 4-H'ers develop is public speaking.  Six 4-H participants competed at the district 4-H Activity Day, sharing their knowledge and talents.
All received a medal.
Leslie Cornett shared a speech on Blood Sugar Balance.  Emily Cornett demonstrated how to make your own pizza.  Erica Cornett demonstrated how to make cute, colorful cupcakes.  Elyse Burgess demonstrated how to make clay creations and Luke Burgess presented on chess.  Chandler Roark also attended and performed a piano piece.  

From Presentations 2011

4-H Camp News

Summer would not be complete without the annual trek to 4-H camp.  Watauga County 4-H escorts a group to 4-H camp each year.   NC 4-H offers five camping center across the state.  By popular demand, we traveled to Betsy-Jeff Penn 4-H center near Reidsville this year.  Those who have been once request to go back again, so they can finally participate in extended outdoor adventure with the Adventurer or Trekker programs for 13-14 year olds.  Those who age out can be “counselors in training”.  This year, we have two special campers who have been to 4-H camp every year they were eligible, from age 8 through age 14.  We would like to give special recognition to these 4-H super campers, Jonathan Teague and Caleb Vance.  


Friday, July 8, 2011

Preen for Garden Weed Control -- Just what’s in that stuff anyway?

 Preen herbicide has long been used in home gardens for preemergence control of many annual weeds.  The active ingredient, trifluralin, is labeled for use around many woody and herbaceous ornamental plants as well as many vegetable and fruit crops.  Although, not the most efficacious herbicide, Preen controlled many of our most common landscape weeds including henbit, chickweed, oxalis, crabgrass, and annual bluegrass, without injuring landscape plantings.  This product is still widely available in garden centers throughout the country.  However, look closely at the label – the Preen you purchase today may not be the same product you previously used. 

Today the Preen name is used to identify a diverse product line that includes preemergence and postemergence herbicides.  Several Preen products contain 2,4-D for broadleaf weed control in lawns; these products should not be used in landscape beds.  The active ingredient in Preen Weed Preventer for Southern Gardens is dithiopyr – the same ingredient found in the herbicide Dimension.  This is safe on most ornamentals but should not be used around any food crops. There is Preen Mulch Plus Premium that contains isoxaben plus trifluralin (think Snapshot TG); not to be confused with Preen Plus Mulch Midnight Black that contains trifluralin (but no isoxaben).  The isoxaben-containing mulch will damage pansies but the trifluralin-containing product will not.  Confused yet?  There is also Preen Brush Weed Killer that contains 2,4-DP + 2,4-D + dicamba; Preen Weed and Grass Killer that contains glyphosate (same ingredient as Roundup); and an organic product for vegetable gardens, Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer, that contains corn gluten meal.  Many different active ingredients, all sold under the Preen name can lead to confusion. 

So, if you go to the garden center to purchase Preen for weed control in your garden or lawn – READ THE LABEL.  Make sure you purchase the right product for the right job. 

Labels and material safety data sheets for the Preen products are available from the manufacturer’s web site at

Written by: Joseph C. Neal, Professor and Extension Specialist -- Weed Science

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Caldwell Comm College (Here in Boone!) Hosts FREE Small Business mini-Workshops

Small business Instructor, Evelyn Asher dropped by the office today and shared dates, times, and topics for some EXCELLENT small business development classes that are available for FREE here in Watauga County.

July 13 (9:00 a.m.) *Watauga CE Center: How to Start a Small Business
July 27 (9:00 a.m.) Watauga Library: How to Write a Business Plan
Aug. 10 (9:00 a.m.) Watauga Library: Marketing for Success
Aug. (9:00 a.m.) *Watauga CE Center: Small Business Communication Strategy
Sept 14 (12:00 p.m.) *Watauga CE Center: Social Media for Small Business
Sept 21 (4:00 p.m.) Watauga Library: Legal Issues for Green Businesses
Sept 28 (9:00 a.m.) Watauga Library: Sustaining Small Business Success
Oct. 12 (4:00 p.m.) *Watauga CE Center: How to Start a Small Business
Oct. 26 (9:00 a.m.) Watauga Library: How to Write a Business Plan
Nov. 8 (4:00 p.m.) *Watauga CE Center: Women-owned Small Business
Nov. 16 (12:00 p.m). Watauga Library: Crafting Your Business Message

*Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
Continuing Education Center
139 Health Center Drive (421 to Bamboo Road, Health Center Drive is about ½ mile on the right hand side by the new Hospitality House and behind the Community Care Clinic and Hunger Coalition)
Boone NC 28607

Course titles are subject to change depending on client needs.
Free one-hour consultation on any of these topics is available.
RSVP: 828-263-5370