Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Workshops, Proposals, and Opportunities from Blue Ridge Women in Ag

Farmer Scholarships: Organic Growers School Conference Call for Applications!
With the support of the Organic Growers School and AgraQuest, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) is offering two one-day farmer scholarships (including lunch) to the 2012 Organic Growers School Conference. Applications must be received by Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Please email contactbrwia@gmail.com for more information.

Call for Proposals! Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant Program
The purpose of the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant is to strengthen our local food system by supporting female farmers, ranchers, and processors who plan to create innovative, sustainable solutions to producing or marketing obstacles in the High Country. Proposals must be RECEIVED no later than March 1, 2012. Please email contactbrwia@gmail.com for more information.

Is a Heritage Breeds Enterprise Right for you?
February 11, 2012, 1-3PM, Watauga Cooperative Extension Ag Conference Center, $5.  Join BRWIA and American Livestock Breed Conservancy for a workshop that will help you to determine whether heritage livestock may be a fit for your farm enterprise. Heritage breeds have great potential on small farms and in niche markets. In this workshop you will learn the definition of Heritage, the basics of heritage breed husbandry, why these breeds are so appealing in niche markets, and the planning process for deciding if heritage animals are right for you and your farm. A panel of local farmers will discuss how heritage breeds fit in on their farms. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, has 35 years of experience conserving and promoting heritage livestock. Our mission is to provide support and education to farmers to help make heritage breeds an economical and sustainable option for farmers. For more information or to RSVP: contactbrwia@gmail.com

Tour of the Ashe County Commercial Kitchen, February 18th, 11-12PM, Jefferson, NC, Free. Are you interested in selling artisan food products at the farmers’ market and local businesses? Join Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension for a tour of the Ashe County Commercial Kitchen on February 18th, 11-12PM. The Ashe County Commercial Kitchen is a shared-use facility, equipped with commercial stoves, ovens, steam kettles, mixers, sinks, refrigerators, tables, dry and cooler storage and other food preparation equipment to accommodate a wide variety of start-up food businesses. Rhonda Church of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension will provide farmers and other entrepreneurs with a brief tour of the space, followed by a question and answer session. For more information or to RSVP: contactbrwia@gmail.com

Promoting Your Farm, February 25, 2012, 1PM-3PM, Watauga Cooperative Extension Ag Conference Center., $5. Join BRWIA and Kaci Nidiffer of Trosly Farm for a workshop that will help you:
• Identify your goals: In addition to increasing awareness of sustainable agriculture, what do you want to accomplish for your farm through promotional materials? Learn what type of materials work best with your goals.
• Learn about the importance of good images and layout in promotional materials and practical skills to apply when you're back on the farm!
• Create a "farm promo toolkit" to have on hand, so that working on promotional materials won't get in the way of your busy schedule.
For more information or to RSVP: contactbrwia@gmail.com

Irrigation Demonstration: March 25, 2012, 1-2:30PM, Goldenrod Gardens, $5 Learn how to establish a water conservation system using innovative irrigation and repurposing techniques. Join Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) and Lee Carlton Swift of Goldenrod Gardens for an irrigation demonstration. Lee will show visitors her new gravity-fed irrigation system and vegetable washing station, established with the support of BRWIA’s 2011 Sustainable Food and Agriculture Grant. Demonstration Fee: $5. For more information or to RSVP: contactbrwia@gmail.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

Celebrate World Wetland Day February 2, 2012

When was the last time you went on vacation and got your feet wet?  If you’re like me, its not a vacation unless you do get your feet wet – riding the waves at the beach, swimming in a pool, wading in a creek, kayaking a river – but when was the last time you went on vacation and got your feet both wet and muddy?  Sound like fun?  Sure does to me!  Wetlands can provide interesting experiences where one can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature in all 50 states across America.   

February 2, 1971 marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Every year, this organization provides a theme to help connect people around the world with wetlands, and this years World Wetlands Day theme is “Wetland Tourism: A Great Experience.”

According to the US Geological Survey, “at the time of European settlement in the early 1600's, the United States had approximately 221 million acres of wetlands, about 103 million acres remained as of the mid-1980's.  Even today, all of the effects of these losses might not be fully realized. ”   Today there are many groups and agencies interested in preserving wetlands.  Many have begun to realize the importance of wetlands because of the ecosystem services they provide - the benefits people receive from ecosystems on the planet.  From holding back floodwaters – one acre of wetlands can store about 1.5 million gallons of water – to water purification, groundwater replenishment, sediment and nutrient retention, habitat diversity, recreation, and millions of dollars worth of products for humans to enjoy. 

Here are just a few of easy access wetlands across North Carolina that you can visit:

Bluff Mountain, Ashe County - This Nature Conservancy preserve is accessible through a locally based eco-tourist guide, Kim Hadley.  Email Kim at BluffMountainPreserve@gmail.com to schedule a trip to this incredible site.

Boone Greenway – view a constructed stormwater wetland at the Clawson Burnley Park.  This wetland provides habitat and purifies stormwater before it flows into the New River.

Haw River State Park- the headwaters of the Haw River and Cape Fear River Basin.

Walnut Creek Wetland Center - Located on 59 acres of undeveloped floodplain near downtown Raleigh, the Center offers greenway trails, and low cost educational programs for school age children. The center includes a 6500- square-foot facility with two classrooms, a conference room, and a library. The building also has a large deck overlooking the wooded areas of the Walnut Creek wetland.

Dismal Swamp State Park - Camden County NC
It's a swamp! Lots of wetlands as well as the inter-coastal waterway canal running in front of the visitor center. Miles of hiking trails as well as an accessible boardwalk.

Merchants Millpond State Park - Gates County NC
Millpond and surrounding wetlands and swamp. Visitor center overlooks pond, hiking trails, canoe rental for the pond and canoe in campsite along pond and Bennet's Creek and associated wetlands.

Jockey's Ridge State Park  - Nags Head NC
Eastern US tallest Sand dune, back side of the park butts up to Roanoke Sound with its associated salt water estuary. Public parking lot with soundside access.

Goose Creek State Park - Beaufort County NC
Boardwalk from visitor center leading into a large wetland habitat as well as access to Pamilco River via a swim beach and boat ramp.

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park - Wayne County NC
90ft cliffs over looking the Neuse River, Parking lot and overlook on top of the cliffs. Hiking trails to base f the cliff where you can hike or fish along the river or explore associated floodplain and wetlands along the river banks

Hammocks Beach State Park - Swansboro NC

Bear Island, undeveloped barrier island with trail leading from ferry dock on soundside to beaches on the Atlantic Ocean side. island has campgrounds , bath house and snack bar all open seasonally. Lots of programs promoting sea turtles, kayaking the estuaries and small islands in Bogue Sound. Ferry to island operates April - October

Fort Macon State Park - Atlantic Beach NC
Historic fort open to the public. Beach access parking with guarded swim beach and a second access point along soundside for fishing and bird watching in the salt marshes.

Whether you’re at 3,500 feet elevation or at sea level, you can explore wetlands across our great state of North Carolina.  Next time you have an opportunity to take out the binoculars and view the world up close – get out there and get your feet wet, maybe muddy too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Helping Youth Set Goals

Perhaps you have set some goals for yourself this year, but what about your children?  4-H is one avenue of encouraging youth to set goals.  A 4-H project is planning and experiencing activities around a topic.  When 4-H participants select projects, it helps them explore topics they are interested in and to set goals. 4-H has lots of fun materials that help youth explore many different topics, from woodworking, electricity, animals to photography and more.  When kids glance through a project manual, they may see lots of things they would like to do in the project.  Setting a goal can be as simple as stating, “I want to learn about…..” or “I want to make…..”
As youth get older, they have more and more 4-H areas they can set goals in.

Different ages are at different stages with goal setting.  For a 5-8 year old, exploring possibilities is more important than reaching a goal.  9-11 year olds are setting short-term goals.  12-14 year olds are planning strategies to reach goals.  15-18 year olds are implementing strategies to meet goals and looking toward life planning.  (Targeting Life Skills Model by Patricia A Hendricks)

One key to helping youth set goals is to help pick an area your child is excited about.  One model that is fun to explore is the idea of sparks.  Everyone has something that provides a spark for them, something that excites them and that they are passionate about.  By age 11, youth are starting to develop a spark for something.   Check out this list for ideas on areas that may provide a spark for your tween or teen. 

Other Resources:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Become an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer!

The Extension Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers that work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension Service to provide horticultural information to the surrounding community. Currently 46 states have Extension Master Gardener programs involving over 15,000 volunteers.

Extension Master Gardeners must successfully complete a 40+ hour training curriculum based on horticultural topics covering everything from growing vegetables, fruits and ornamentals to identifying and managing insects and diseases. They then become valuable community resources to schools, public gardens, churches, youth organizations, and other entities seeking help with gardens or landscape projects. EMG Volunteers also extend the reach of the county Cooperative Extension Service through plant clinics, horticulture hotlines, factsheets, demonstration gardens, and educational workshops.

How will you benefit from the EMG Volunteer Program?
Through the training program and interaction with local experts and experienced gardeners, you will become a more skilled and informed gardener. No experience is necessary to become a Master Gardener. A comprehensive training manual and other research-based publications are provided to participants. There is a registration fee to be involved in the 12-week program.

Participants can also attend statewide Extension workshops, field trips, and conferences where they can interact with other Master Gardener Volunteers and Extension areas specialists.

The EMG Program is not all work. There are many opportunities for socializing with others and developing new friendships. The EMG Program also exposes participants to a wide-range of organizations and local communities, fostering important networking opportunities beyond the horticultural scope.

How does the EMG Program benefit the community?
Extension Master Gardener Volunteers share their knowledge in a variety of ways. Volunteers can write written factsheets, assist with youth and adult programs, organize garden, maintain public gardens, and help operate the Watauga Extension Center’s Home Horticulture Hotline. Volunteer hours are flexible and there are endless opportunities for contributing to the community. Travel expenses are tax deductible.

How do I become an EMG Volunteer?
The desire to help others is the central key, coupled with a commitment to both complete the required training and to volunteer at least 40 hours of service within a year’s time of completing the training.

To be considered for the program, you must complete an application form. The deadline for the 2012 Program is February 17, 2012. Application forms can be picked up at the Watauga Extension Center or downloaded HERE. A fee is charged for the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. For more information, contact Meghan Baker at 828-264-3061 or Meghan_baker@ncsu.edu.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less!

Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less is a weight management program developed by nutrition experts at NC Cooperative Extension and NC Division of Public Health. Weekly 45 – 60 minute sessions will be offered beginning Monday, January 30 at 5:15 until April 30 at the Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd. in Boone. Cost for the entire series is $45, payable before the class begins at NC Cooperative Extension, 971 West King St., Boone, 264-3061. This program taught by a registered dietitian and two senior ASU nutrition interns.

Here are the topics that will be covered:
1. Make Your Commitment
2. Re-Think Your Drink
3. Eat Fewer Calories
4. Move More
5. Check the Facts
6. Enjoy More Fruit and Vegetables
7. Right-Size Your Portions
8. Plan, Shop, Fix and Eat
9. Eat Out Less
10. Move Strong
11. Start Smart
12. Tame the Tube
13. Pack Smart Lunches
14. Keep Your Commitment

It’s healthier to stay the same weight than lose weight and re-gain it, or “yo-yo” diet. Before making any commitment, it’s important to make sure that you are ready. Take this weight loss readiness quiz to save time, money or both.

1.      Are you motivated to make long-term lifestyle changes that require eating appropriate portion sizes of healthy foods and being physically active?
Be honest.  Knowing you need to make changes in your life and feeling up to the challenge are two different things.
2.      Are you free from distractions in your life that may prevent you from committing to a healthy lifestyle program?
You may set yourself up for failure if you're distracted by other major events in your life, such as a new job, family illness or financial worries.
3.      Are you realistic about your weight loss goal?
Start small; work on losing 2 to 8 pounds a month or if you have been gaining weight - work on maintaining weight. Losing weight at a relatively slow pace has proved safe, healthy and effective over the long term.
4.      Do you have family and friends to support your weight loss efforts?
It certainly helps to have someone in your life who will support you as you begin to eat smart and move more.
5.      Do you believe that you can change your eating habits?
Sounds easy to do in theory, but in practice, it can be difficult. Believing you can do it is the first step.
6.      Are you willing to become more physically active?
Increasing your level of physical activity is essential to losing weight and keeping it off.
7.      Will you take the time to keep records of your food intake and physical activity?
Keeping records increases your chance of success. Although this takes time at first, the effort required decreases as you adopt healthier habits.
8.       Do you view a healthy weight program as a positive experience?
Lose weight because you want to and not because you think it’s expected. You’ll quickly appreciate the benefits.
9.      Have you resolved any eating disorders or other emotional issues that make it difficult for you to achieve a healthy weight?
If you have a tendency to binge, purge, starve or overexert when you exercise, or if you're depressed or anxious, you may need the help of a professional.
10.  Do you believe that a healthy weight is a lifelong commitment?
There’s no going back to your old behaviors.

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’re ready to make the lifestyle changes necessary for permanent weight loss. If you answered no to one or more questions, you may not be ready. Explore what’s holding you back and face those obstacles.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beekeeping Course at Caldwell Community College

A fascinating hobby, beekeeping is rapidly becoming a popular way to connect with nature and help support threatened honeybee populations.  No longer limited to those living out in the country, many cities are welcoming urban beekeepers and a new generation is reconnecting with this important hobby.
The Continuing Education Department at Caldwell Community College is offering a course for those interested in getting started in beekeeping.  The 5-session course will be held at the Watauga Campus on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, beginning January 24, 2012.  For more information on this course or to register, visit the Continuing Education website: http://www.cccti.edu/coned/welcome.htm or call 828-263-5370.