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Originally published: 2014-01-20 13:05:19
Last modified: 2014-01-20 13:05:19

Free farm tour, potluck to be held Feb. 11

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture will hold a free Educational Farm Tour from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 11, with a "Women in Ag" potluck gathering following the tour.

The tour will feature Kristen and David Travis at Old Season Farm in Ashe County, where Kristen will discuss a unique approach to water and weed management in their hazelnut orchard.

Steep slopes and variable weather make water management difficult in the High Country, but swales, which are leveled ditches, can offer an innovative way to conserve water in the region, according to Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture. Swales help to slow the movement of surface runoff, increase water infiltration and improve water and nutrient availability for plants. 

During the Educational Farm Tour, Kristen will describe the recent construction of three acres of swales on her land that was funded by a BRWIA grant and compare the costs and benefits with those of drip irrigation. Other topics to be covered are hazelnuts as a High Country crop and using sheep for integrated orchard management. 

Old Season Farm is using swales as part of an experimental perennial polyculture system designed to be environmentally sustainable and commercially viable. 

"Our goal is to find or develop varieties of the European hazelnut that can be grown profitably in our region. We don't know if they will produce reliably yet. Still, we're excited to share what we've learned so far," Kristen said.
During the tour, there will be opportunities for participants to ask questions about any aspect of Old Season Farm's projects.

Following the tour at 3 p.m., a "Women in Ag" potluck gathering will be held at Travis home. The gathering will offer the opportunity for women involved in any aspect of agriculture to network, learn from one another and connect with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and its services. 

"Bring your favorite teas or finger foods to share," officials with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture said. "Children and families are welcome."

The Educational Farm Tour and BRWIA potluck gathering are both free, but participants must RSVP by Feb. 9. For more information or to RSVP for either event, visit http://www.brwia.org/swales. 

For more information, email (programs@brwia.org) or call (828) 386-1537.

The snow date for the event is Feb. 18.