High Country Seed Swap & Growers School
Saturday, 3/10 at Family Central 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM
On Saturday, March 10, 2012, all aspiring and practicing area gardeners are invited to Ashe Family Central (the former Ashe Central High School in Jefferson) to the High Country Seed Swap and Growers School. The event features a day-long open exchange of seeds, plus workshops on vegetable growing and grafting apple trees taught by area experts. Beginning at 8:30 AM, gardeners will be able to display their own surplus seeds and view the offerings of others on tables set up in the cafeteria space. The seed swap will continue throughout the day. A vermicomposting class will be taught from 9 AM – 10 AM, a grafting workshop and fruit-scion-wood exchange will be held from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM. A vegetable variety and succession-planting workshop will run from 11 AM – noon. Coffee and light fare will be available for purchase from the Blue Ridge Market on-site at Family Central throughout the morning and early afternoon. Also, the shared-use Ashe County Kitchen (aka- Creative Food Ventures) will be open for visits and tours.
Gardeners are encouraged to bring their surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, plants, and scionwood to exchange. However, people do not need to bring seeds to participate. Seed swaps operate on the honor principle that gardeners will grow what they take this year, and bring seeds from their crops the next year. The event is sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program, with support from the Ashe County Farmers Market.
Classes at the Seed Swap begin at 9 AM with a Vermicompost workshop, taught by Tracy Myhalyk.
Ron and Suzanne Joyner, of Big Horse Creek Farm in Lansing, will teach the grafting workshop, beginning at 10 AM. The Joyners are nationally-known for their conservation and propagation of old Southern Apple varieties. The grafting workshop taught by the Joyners will be hands-on, with participants able to learn with the actual tools of the trade. Apple rootstocks will be available for purchase at the workshop, so if participants choose, they can graft several trees to then bring home and plant themselves. Information about collecting scionwood samples for grafting can be found at their website: http://www.bighorsecreekfarm.com/horticulture.htm
Area Extension Agent Richard Boylan will coordinate the Seed Swap, with assistance from local Extension Master Gardeners and Ashe County Farmers Market volunteers. He notes that the venue has been perfect for past seed swaps, but that participation is crucial to make this year’s event a success, “Ashe Family Central’s Community Space (the old school cafeteria) is the perfect spot to meet up and swap seeds in an open exchange. It’s big enough that folks can spread-out, browse seeds, and talk. The more participants who bring seeds to share, the better the Swap will be.”
Extension Agent Boylan will also lead the Vegetable Variety and Succession Planting Workshop, beginning at 11 AM. This workshop will guide growers through the process of balancing taste, quality, disease-resistance, and other factors as they choose what to plant in the season ahead, and also offer tips about timing plantings for a full season of successful harvests.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program works to identify and promote viable crops and agricultural marketing strategies suitable for small Farms in Ashe and Watauga Counties. This Seed Swap is part of NCA&T State University’s Small Farms Week statewide programming, and is held concurrently and in partnership with the Ashe County Farmers Market Annual Expo. The event is free and open to all gardeners and farmers in the region.