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Public domain photo of Fennel Seeds by Kristel Rae Barton

Originally published: 2013-03-07 17:52:25
Last modified: 2013-03-07 18:01:58

Seed Swap & Growers School March 16

by Anna Oakes

Start the growing season off with the annual High Country Seed Swap and Growers School next Saturday, March 16, at the Ashe Family Central facility, located at 626 Ashe Central School Road in Jefferson.

The swap, held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., features a daylong open exchange of produce and flower seeds, as well as educational workshops. 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.

"Ashe Family Central's community space is the perfect spot to meet up and swap seeds in an open exchange," said Richard Boylan, area extension agent. "It's big enough that folks can spread out, browse seeds and talk. The more participants who bring seeds to share, the better the swap will be."

Don't have any seeds to share? That's OK -- seed swaps operate on the honor principle that gardeners will grow what they take this year and bring seeds from their harvests the next year.

In fact, you'll learn how to preserve seeds at a workshop on seed saving from 9 to 10 a.m. Holly Whitesides of Against the Grain Farm will lead the workshop. She and her partner grow seed for the regional seed catalog Sow True Seed and recently completed a Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture grant-funded project to retrofit a wood chipper for purposes of seed cleaning.

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.

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

Coffee and light fare will be available for purchase on site.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension's New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program sponsors the event, with support from the Ashe County Farmers' Market and Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture.

The Cooperative Extension also sponsors a fall seed swap in Watauga County at the annual Cove Creek Farm Heritage Day in September.

For more information, call (828) 264-3061.