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 http://www.bighorsecreekfarm.com/horticulture.htm.
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 http://www.ncat.edu/academics/schools-colleges1/saes/cooperative-extension/sfw2014.html.
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.