Friday, May 25, 2012

4-H Super Summer

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer gardening and food preservation workshops, farm tour announced

This is the time of year to decide on summer plans. If you would like to learn more about gardening, make plans to attend Organic Gardening 101, July 30th through August 2nd, 9:00 until 12:30 each day. This workshop is designed for beginning gardeners or those who would like to switch to organic methods. Classes are held next to a red barn in a beautiful setting in Valle Crucis, at the previous ASU sustainable development farm. Several inspiring garden tours in the area are planned. Topics include garden planning, seed starting, companion planting, how to attract beneficial insects, pest management, soil testing and amendments, composting and vermi-composting, and dealing with common plant problems. Cost is $20 for all four days.

To learn how to put up produce for the winter, hands-on canning classes are offered July 14 and August 18th, 1 until 4 each day at the Agricultural Conference Center. Participants will can tomatoes in a boiling water bath and a pressure canner. Cost is $10 for each session.

These workshops are offered by NC Cooperative Extension. Register by paying in advance at 971 West King St., 264-3061.

Some of us would rather let the professionals do the work, and support them by shopping at farmers’ markets. Discover where and how your food is grown by participating in the High Country Farm Tour August 4th and 5th from 2 until 6 each day. Around 24 farms will be on the tour, which is self-guided. The farms are located throughout Watauga, Ashe, and Caldwell counties, although Caldwell farms are only accepting visitors on Sunday, Aug 5th. For affordable weekend entertainment, load up a car with your friends and family. Choose the farms that you'd like to visit by looking through the farm tour guide, or on-line. Be sure to bring a cooler as most farms are selling fresh products on the day of the tour! Organized by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, check their website for more information:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 Mountain Vineyard Pest Management Seminar

All interested growers (and future growers) are invited to a vineyard pest management seminar sponsored by the High Country Winegrower’s Association and the Boone NC Cooperative Extension office. The main speaker will be Gill Giese, head of the viticulture program at Surry Community College. There is no cost to attend.

During his PowerPoint presentation and subsequent discussion, Gill will be specifically covering:
• Vineyard spray schedules available to vineyard owners in North Carolina
• Disease identification strategy
• Common diseases, weed and grass problems and insect issues common in North Carolina vineyards
 • Spray strategy according to phenological stages of vine growth

Area winegrowers will also be at the seminar to add their comments on pest management issues, particularly in reference to the mountain vineyard environment.

NOTE 1: All growers are encouraged to bring in for discussion samples of diseased vines, insects or in-row vegetation that they have questions about. Pictures welcome as well.
NOTE 2: Private or commercial pesticide license holders who stay for the entire seminar can earn 2 pesticide credits. You do not have to be a mountain winegrower to attend or to earn the credits. All growers and future growers welcome.

Where: North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Boone, NC. 252 Poplar Grove Road, Boone N.C. 28607.
Telephone: (828) 264-3061
When: June 14, 2012 from 1:30 to 4:00

If you have any questions call Bob Johnson at (828) 295-6733 or Norm Oches at (704) 975-1129.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Do you have outdated or unused prescription drugs, over the counter medications, syringes or other medical supplies? Come drop them off at the sponsored take-back centers on Saturday May 19, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Take-back locations will be available at the Foscoe Fire Department, Beaverdam Fire Department and the three Food Lion stores in Watauga County: the Highway 321 store in Boone, the Highway 421 Deep Gap store, and the Blowing Rock store. It is an amnesty day, so no questions will be asked.

On Oct. 3, 2009, a broad coalition of community partners came together to create the first ever prescription drug take-back day in the High Country. Since that first event two years ago, a total of five “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events have been held every May and October as part of the Watauga County household hazardous waste day. Thanks to broad support by community members across the region, the High Country has collected a total of 753,000 pills since 2009.  That makes our group the best in the state. Our community outperformed Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville even though they are much larger. 

In 2010, our local Operation Medicine Cabinet was recognized as a model program and adopted by other community groups across North Carolina. In 2011, more than forty drug take back events were held across the state. This year, the High Country group wants to continue leading the state by being the first group to collect more than million pills.
As part of the local Operation Medicine Cabinet team, Appalachian State University held a drug collection event on Saturday April 27, 2012. The ASU community kicked off the 2012 Operation Medicine Cabinet season with a bang by collecting 8,883 pills and an entire gallon of liquid medications from 34 patrons.  Now the rest of the High Country gets their chance to build on the ASU success by participating in the community wide prescription drug take back day events held across the county on May 19, 2012.

The disposal of prescription drugs has long been a dilemma, and many medicine cabinets contain unused or outdated medications. Among teenagers, the fastest growing illegal drug use is the abuse of prescription drugs. The most common method of obtaining prescription drugs is by raiding the medicine cabinet of a friend or family, then consuming the pills or selling them.

“From a law enforcement perspective, one of our most important jobs is to work diligently and proactively to prevent drug abuse,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len D. Hagaman. “By hosting an amnesty day that allows the public to turn in any kind of unused or unwanted medications, hopefully, we will keep those drugs off the street and out of the hands of children.”

Another problem with outdated or unused prescription drugs is that people dispose of them improperly by flushing them down the toilet.   If their home is connected to a local waste water treatment facility, then the drugs wind up in either the Watauga River or New River. 

“A recent investigation by the Associated Press found a whole host of pharmaceuticals-including antibiotics, pain medication, anti-depressants, sex hormones, heart and blood pressure medicine-in the drinking water supplies of more than 40 million Americans,”[1] said Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper.

“It has been very rewarding to see how enthusiastically people have united to support Operation Medicine Cabinet,” said Dick and Joan Hearn of the Watauga River Partners. “We have over 30 community partners, including, Helen M. Clabough Charitable Foundation, MountainKeepers, the towns and police departments of Beech Mountain, Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Safe Kids North Carolina, Boone Drug, Watauga County Recycling/Solid Waste Department, Watauga Riverkeeper/Western North Carolina Alliance, Food Lion, Appalachian Voices, Precision Printing, Foscoe and Beaverdam Fire Departments, the Smoky Mountain Center and Appalachian State University just to name a few,” they continued.

One of the strongest community partners that has supported Operation Medicine Cabinet since it began in 2009 has been Boone Drug. They have staffed every event with pharmacy personnel to assist law enforcement officers to properly identify, count and catalog the pills collected in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Agency permit requirements. Carrie Phillips, Marketing Coordinator for the locally owned and operated business said, “Boone Drug is dedicated to making sure prescription drugs are handled safely and disposed of properly.  We are proud to volunteer our time and support this community project. We hope everybody will come see us at the collection events on May 19, 2012 and join us in the community wide effort to be the first county in North Carolina collect more than one million pills and save our rivers and kids from drugs.”

To find out more about the event please visit us online at



Fourth of July at Watauga Lake, like many lakes across the region, is peak-time. Thousands of boaters will hit the lake’s familiar cold waters as they do every year, reveling in a tradition that spans generations for some enthusiastic lake families who make the annual pilgrimage. For a third year, the Watauga Lake community is putting it’s best foot forward just in time for the holiday.

Our Community Gives Back, an organization of people who live on and/or use Watauga Lake, has organized the Annual Watauga Lake Cleanup since 2010. The first year, approximately 200 people pitched into the effort. The bar was raised during the second year when 260 showed up. On June 30, 2012, organizers hope to do it again. According to Mary Salter, president of Our Community Gives Back, the work is hard but finding volunteers is just the opposite.

“There’s a strong sense of community to be found on Watauga Lake,” said Salter. “To some it’s home, and to others it’s their home away from home, and to us all it’s a place of beauty and source of pride. We want to make sure others who find their way to this lake see that and that’s why this cleanup is so important.”

The group will end its day’s work at Fish Springs Marina for an after-cleanup celebration of food, games and music by five-piece band “True Grass.” Marina owner Thomas White sponsors the cleanup each year.

“It’s important to me as a boater, and as business owner that depends on the tourism Watauga Lake provides,” said White. “I’m excited every year to see so much support from the lake community.”

Registration begins at 8:30AM at Little Milligan Boat Hwy. 321 & Moody Road (New Johnson County Location)& Fish Springs Marina, 191 Fish Springs Road; Hampton, TN. Volunteers will be given gloves and trash bags before scanning the waterways and the shoreline across the full expanse of the lake in both Johnson & Carter Counties. Once registrants return to the drop off points with trash, they will be given wristbands for admittance to an after clean-up celebration.

Trash drop-off dumpsters will be located at Fish Springs Marina, Little Milligan Boat Launch off Hwy 321 and Moody Road and Sink Mountain Boat Ramp off Hwy 167 and Doe Creek Road. Trash can be dropped off at these locations from 9:00AM until 3:00PM.

There will be a celebration party following the clean up at Fish Springs Marina beginning at 3 PM. The Celebration Picnic is accessible from both land and water. Volunteers must have an admission wristband for the Cleanup Celebration Picnic upon delivery of trash at the drop-off locations. It is suggested that volunteers bring folding chairs to the celebration party.

There will be food, music and prizes all donated by local and regional businesses, as well as civic-minded citizens. Door prize drawings will be held at the Celebration Picnic and you must be present to win. No one will be admitted to the Celebration Picnic without a wristband. A Door Prize Raffle Ticket will be given for each bag of trash collected.

Watauga Lake is about five miles east of Elizabethton, Tennessee.  It is a TVA electric generating facility capable of producing 57,600 kilowatts. The reservoir extends 16.7 miles above the dam and provides 152,829 acre-feet of storage capacity. Construction of Watauga started on February 16, 1942, but the War Production Board ordered work stopped in October because it was considered nonessential to the war effort. Construction on Watauga resumed July 22, 1946, and the dam was completed on December 1, 1948. Water levels on Watauga vary only about nine feet in normal years to provide for seasonal flood storage and for the augmentation of flows of water during other seasons. It forms a long, slender body of water extending in an easterly direction from the dam, and it has a shoreline of approximately 109 miles.

Prizes, donations and sponsorships are being accepted. For information, to volunteer or donate contact: Mary Salter 423-768-0363.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Appalachian Trailblazer 4-H Club members kick off the gardening season by exploring and starting seeds. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Use your land to help protect the Golden-winged Warbler!

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior have announced a new Working Lands Initiative that will benefit seven species across the country including the Golden-winged Warbler. Audubon North Carolina is working closely with Natural Resources Conservation Services staff to assist landowners in using Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) funds to aid this species. And in even better news, the project is focusing on lands within focal areas like the New River Corridor and New River Important Bird Area (IBA). Lands within priority IBAs for Golden-wings are given more points in the evaluation process.  

Sign up as soon as possible (by May 31st) by contacting Curtis Smalling at or 828-265-0198 or Ashe and Watauga Counties NRCS agent David Tucker at or 336-246-5461

It is not necessary to go through an organized program to participate in the protection of the Golden-winged Warbler and other species. If you have forest land, shrub land, or grassland that you would like to manage better for birds (even if that is not your top priority for working lands) contact Curtis Smalling or call Lynn Caldwell at NCNR for more information. Together we can make a difference for birds in all of our habitats.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

High Country Grown Impacts

Over the last year, partner organizations New River Organic Growers, the High Country CSA, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, and Cooperative Extension have been working together to help mature the High Country local food economy. With funding from the North Carolina Specialty Crop Block Program, the High Country Grown effort has had a number of successful projects and activities highlighted below.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

4-H After-School

4-H in the after-school explores all sorts of topics with the intent to make science fun and interesting.  Hands-on activities included taste science, glow in the dark science, wind, plant parts and more!