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Ag programs and seed swap in March

Article Published: Mar. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Somewhere under the ice and snow is some dirt, and sooner or later it will be ready for seeds.

Upcoming agricultural programs will help growers plan ahead, whether it's for backyard production or expanding on the commercial scale. Berries, food supplies, field trips and farmers markets are on the calendar in March.

Raspberry Workshop
On Monday, March 8, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture will host a class on growing raspberries. The class will be held at the Watauga Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. There's no cost to attend.

Farm Bureau Listening Session
On Tuesday, March 9, the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation is hosting a listening session on food safety for Watauga County fruit and vegetable growers. Comments will be presented to the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The session is at 7:30 a.m. at the Mountain House restaurant in Boone. The focus of the discussion will be how to make food safety standards and procedures really work for growers and consumers alike.

For more than a year, food safety legislation has been pending in U.S. Congress. This past summer, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (HR 2749), and a bill awaits action in the U.S. Senate (S510). In addition, the Food & Drug Administration and USDA have announced that they are working together to develop rules and regulations for on farm production of fruits and vegetables in the area of food safety.

For more information on this session, contact Debbie Hamrick, director of specialty crops for N.C. Farm Bureau Federation, at (919) 334-2977 or (

Comments can also be submitted through the multi-agency Web site,, a clearinghouse for materials related to FDA rulemaking. Click on the "Submit a Comment" button towards the top of the page. Then enter FDA-2010-N-0085 in the "Keyword or ID" field and click "Search" to open up a page with the link to the document. Then click on "Submit a Comment".

Field Trip
The Watauga County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service will lead a grower field trip to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to examine possibilities of season extension, growing crops in high and low tunnels without supplemental heat, and accessing early markets.

The trip will depart at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, and travel to Goldsboro. Growers will be responsible for their own transportation and lodging.

On March 11, the group will tour CEFS's high-tunnels production systems and meet with researcher Steve Moore. For more information, call Richard Boylan at the Cooperative Extension Service office at (828) 264-3061.

Seed Swap
One of the highlights of the pre-spring gardening season is the annual seed swap and Grower's School, taking place Sat., March 13 at Family Central in Jefferson.

The event features a day of exchanging free seeds, as well as a series of farm and garden workshops taught by area experts. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., growers will be able to display and share their own surplus seeds and view the offerings of others on tables set up in the cafeteria space. The seed swap will continue through 1 p.m.

Gardeners are encouraged to bring their surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, plants and scion wood to exchange. However, people do not need to bring seeds or plants to participate. North Carolina Cooperative Extension's New River Headwaters Alternative Agriculture Program sponsors the event, in conjunction with the Ashe County Farmers' Market, and thanks to the volunteer efforts of participating growers, teachers and assistants.

Ashe County Farmers' Market rules, vermicomposting session, apple-grafting workshop and plant propagation are among the workshop topics, as well as a post-harvest handling and produce safety session.

For more information, contact Boylan, area extension agent, agriculture, at or (828) 264-3061.

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