Monday, January 26, 2009

February Is WNC Clean Streams Month

WNC Clean Streams is a collaborative effort between Cooperative Extension agents in the region with the common goal of providing educational programs dedicated to environmental stewardship.

Events are planned to highlight the importance of protecting and conserving our local and regional water sources.

There are many great events planned for commercial growers, homeowner and contractors, developers and designers including:
  • Water-wise gardening
  • Rain barrel sales
  • Landscape irrigation and rain-harvesting
  • Sediment and erosion control
  • Stream restoration
Plus much more!

There will also be special sessions at the Winter Vegetable Conference in Asheville on 18-19 February including:
  • Pesticide spills and clean-up and
  • Drip application of pesticides for insect control

Be a part of this View, Download or Print the Brochure! Spread it far and wide.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Soil Fumigant Regulations, continued...

In a previous post on soil fumigants, I mentioned the new changes and mitigations that are being proposed by the EPA.

After speaking with a representative at Reddick, he informed me that these changes will not take place until late 2010 or 2011. The delay is due to the changing of the fumigant labels. However, please read your fumigant label before your treat your field. For example, Midas (iodomethane or methyl iodide) has major restrictions on its label already. One of these restrictions is:

"Do not apply within 1/4 mile of any occupied sensitive site such as schools, daycare facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and playgrounds".

This may have an impact on many farms here in WNC where our fields are very close to our neighbors. If you fall into this category, you can still apply Telone or methyl bromide. These fumigants have buffer zones, thought not as wide as with Midas. Please read and follow the label- it is the law! You can find pesticide labels on the Crop Data Management Systems, Inc website.

The EPA is still taking comments, so please let your voice be heard. Contact the EPA soon!

If you have any questions about fumigants, please contact your local supplier or call your local cooperative extension office.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Local Food Mania!

Local food is a buzz! Not to mention the #1 item on the 2009 Hot Items list.

At the end of 2008, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) had a series of meetings to target and compile the needs for a sustainable, profitable local food economy, including one in Asheville.
Nancy Creamer, the director at CEFS, and her team have been busy compiling the information from these sessions and updating the Farm-to-Fork webpage.

All of these events have been leading up to the Farm to Fork Statewide Summit, Building a Sustainable, Local Food Economy on March 2nd & 3rd. More info to be posted shortly.

In addition, check out former Congresswomen Eva Clayton's Op Ed on local foods in the Raleigh News and Observer on Monday that asks decision makers to pay attention to this effort and the benefits of local foods.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs are one unique way that a farm markets their produce to consumers. Members of a CSA pay a farmer early in the year (January or February) for a weekly share of produce during the growing season. This income goes to help farmers offset the seasonal cost of plant production, i.e. buying seed, plants, fertilizer, etc. In return, the consumer gets a box of fresh produce weekly throughout the growing season and a strong tie to local producers and the local economy. The CSA boxes are filled with seasonal products that come directly from the farm and items may include vegetables, herbs, fruits and sometimes eggs and meat products and value-added products. such as jams and jellies. Growers arrange drop-off locations for the boxes or customers go directly to the farm.

As a producer, CSAs are attractive because of the money you get up front and a personal connection with the consumer. Getting the money up front also means that you do not have to deal with cash, checks and missed payments. CSAs ensure that your product gets sold- a luxury that doesn't always come with the tailgate market setting. Challenges for producers include growing a wide variety of crops, supplying product each week, distributing it effectively, supplying recipes and newsletters to your customers and dealing with the unpredictable and sometimes destructive weather in North Carolina.

If you are interested in starting your own CSA, visit Debbie Roos's excellent CSA resource on her "Growing Small Farms" website or review Melissa Ann Brown and Jeanine Davis's Horticulture Information leaflet "Community Supported Agriculture in North Carolina".

To read more about CSAs read the article "Support Your Local Produce" recently published in the Raleigh News and Observer.

If you are interested in buying into a local CSA, visit ASAP's local food guide to find a CSA near you.

A new CSA in Buncombe County is with Cane Creek Valley Farm, an organic farm located in Fletcher.

If you are not located in WNC, visit Debbie's resource for CSAs located in other parts of NC.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Small Fruit News Jan. 2009

The January edition of Small Fruits News is now available. This edition includes your winter chores for blackberry and strawberry plantings.

Small Fruit News is a publication by the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium whose members include of NCSU, Clemson, Univ. of Georgia, Univ. of Tennessee, Univ. Arkansas and Virginia Tech.