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Peas sprout from the ground in a spring garden.

Small Farms Week Farm Tour

The Small Farms Week Farm Tour will include stops at these three farms.


1. Otus Branch Farm, 10 Big Hill Road, Boone: Three techniques of using cover crops to enhance soil fertility and reduce erosion are showcased at this organic market garden site. A summer-planted bed of millet was mowed before the fall planting of garlic now growing there. Two beds of summer-planted buckwheat were allowed to frost-kill, with the crop residue left in place to protect the soil during the winter, yet allow easy spring time cultivation and planting. Three other beds were seeded in late summer to wheat and clover, which will be allowed to grow until late May, and then mowed for summer cash crop plantings.


2. Panoramic Tree Farm, 368 Panoramic Lane, Boone: A choose-and-cut Christmas tree operation run by Joey Clawson and his family. Clawson has worked with Cooperative Extension for many years and markets his farm as a "family experience." Panoramic Tree Farm features a petting zoo and a wreath-making shop to sell value-added farm products. Clawson practices integrated pest management, sells produce and maintains a beef cattle herd.

3. Moretz Mountain Orchard and Farms, 2820 Big Hill Road, Boone: A recipient of the 2013 Small Farmer of the Year Award, Bill Moretz grows a variety of fruiting trees, shrubs and vines in a system that sustainably and abundantly produces on steep slopes. He grows apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, brambles blueberries, kiwi and many other fruits, vegetables and crops. He sells through direct marketing and community supported agriculture.

Originally published: 2014-03-10 12:25:34
Last modified: 2014-03-10 12:26:19

Kick off spring with seed swap, Small Farms Week

by Anna Oakes

Those who can't wait for the spring growing season will enjoy two opportunities sponsored by the Watauga County Cooperative Extension Service this month -- the annual Seed Swap and a daylong event as part of Small Farms Week.

The annual High Country Seed Swap and Growers School takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Ashe Family Central facility, located at 626 Ashe Central School Road in Jefferson.

Coffee and food locally prepared by Subs 2 Go, A&M Concessions and Reid's Catering will be available for purchase on-site throughout the morning and early afternoon.

The swap features a daylong open exchange of produce and flower seeds, as well as an educational workshop. The event is free and open to all gardeners and farmers in the region. Gardeners are encouraged to bring their surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, plants and scionwood to exchange.

"The more participants who bring seeds to share, the better the swap will be," said Richard Boylan, area extension agent.

And if you don't have any seeds to share, that's OK, because seed swaps operate on the honor principle that gardeners will bring seeds from their harvests next year.

Ron and Suzanne Joyner of Big Horse Creek Farm in Lansing will once again teach a grafting workshop from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Joyners are nationally known for their conservation and propagation of old Southern apple varieties.

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. A $10 fee will enable participants to graft up to three fruit trees. Information about collecting scionwood samples for grafting can be found at

The N.C. Cooperative Extension sponsors the event with support from the Ashe County Farmers' Market.

The extension will sponsor a kickoff event for Small Farms Week beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, March 24, at Boone United Methodist Church. Registration and lunch are both free for farmers; the fee is $25 for others. Register by 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, by calling (828) 264-3061 or online at

The morning session will include a keynote address by Manny Reyes of N.C. A&T State University on sustainable farm and community practices in mountainous regions, followed by breakout sessions on "Perennial Plants and Sustainability Strategies for Hillside Farming," "Streamside Conservation Buffers on the Farm" and "Turning a Profit with Small Scale Livestock Production."

After lunch, a farm tour will include stops at Otus Branch Farm, Panoramic View Christmas Tree Farm and Moretz Mountain Orchard.

For more information or to register for the Small Farms Week event, call (828) 264-3061.