Friday, April 30, 2010

Herbicide Carryover Bioassay Results

Picture from Sue Colucci's blog
Sue Colucci, area specialized extension agent for Henderson, Buncombe, and Haywood counties, is working with a farmer who is having problems with herbicide carryover in manure.  She worked with him to perform the bioassay that I have described to you several times.  She just published those results, with pictures, on her blog.  I urge you to read this over and bookmark it so you can find it again.  Here's the link:
Great job, Sue.  Thanks!

This is a reminder to be very cautious about the use of manure and compost for your garden and farm.  They can be wonderful additions to the soil; I personally use them all the time.  But you need to know the history of the materials.  We have a publication on this topic that covers it indepth.  It is located on my website at  We have just revised and expanded that publication.  It is in its final stages of preparation and should be available real soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Loans for Entrepreneurs with Forest Product Based Businesses

Cultivated ramps
Do you have a small business, or want to start a small business, with forest based products? Examples are forest herbs (ginseng, black cohosh, witch hazel), forest foods (ramps, miner's lettuce), craft items from natural forest materials, and eco-education businesses. The focus is on businesses that use natural forest resources sustainably, contributing to the retention of our forests. If this describes you and your business (or business idea), consider attending this informational session on a source of low-interest loans up to $15,000.

On May 6, 2010 there will be a Shade Fund Information Session and Brown Bag Lunch at the Small Business Incubator (Room 2046) at the A-B Tech Enka Site at 1465 Sand Hill Road, Candler, NC 28715.

The Shade Fund is a joint project of the Conservation Fund and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities working to connect individual lenders with entrepreneurs who have forest friendly businesses. Along with their partners, the Shade Fund works to create jobs and preserve rural communities.

Attend this free informal brown bag event to meet Rick Larson, Director of Sustainable Ventures for the Conservation Fund. Bring your lunch and questions.

Schedule is: Lunch and networking from 11:30 to noon. Question and answer session from noon to 1:00.

For more information about the Shade Fund, visit

This information session is sponsored by the NC Natural Products Association with support from the Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC) and the BioNetwork.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If You are Involved with a Herb/Botanicals Business in WNC, Please Attend

Over the past five years or so there has been a lot of talk about building a natural products industry in western North Carolina.  One big concern I have is that the existing industry, which has been well established here for hundreds of years, is rarely mentioned in these discussions and people are often left with the impression that it doesn't exist or is very small and primitive!  We have a large community of herbalists, acupuncturists, natural healthcare practitioners of all kinds, herbal schools, raw botanical buyers and suppliers, herb growers, herbal product manufacturers, herb nurseries, and wild-harvesters.  I would like to see more attention and support given to these businesses and growing more like them.

If you feel the same way, please register for this event and show up at the NC Arboretum next Monday morning.  Demonstrate what the real WNC botanicals industry looks like. Many of you have commented that you want more attention from your government, well here is your chance!  Please spread the word!

Here is the announcement I received:

Senator Richard Burr is pleased to invite you to attend an Economic Development Summit on Seizing Economic Opportunity through the Botanical Medicine and Integrative Health Industry.  With speakers scheduled to attend including representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NC Department of Commerce, Hamner Institute, Mission Hospitals, Gaia Herbs, Bent Creek Institute, and the NC Arboretum.

Please join Senator Burr on Monday, April 26, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the North Carolina Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, North Carolina.

The summit will focus on identifying the resources within North Carolina’s botanical and integrative health industry, branding possibilities and how best to attract foreign opportunities.

Please RSVP for this event by April 23, 2010. Check-in for registrants will begin at 8 a.m. the day of the event.

You may register to attend online at

For further information, please contact Steve Green at or at 828-398-8918.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We Planted Our Truffle Orchard Today

We had a great crew from the research station to plant the trees in record time.  Thanks, guys!

Last spring Garland Truffles donated trees to my program to establish a test & demonstration truffle orchard at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC.  The trees are filberts inoculated with the black Perigord truffle fungus.  As you may recall, it rained a lot last spring and the soil never dried out enough to work it.  So we potted up the little trees and held them for a fall planting.  Same thing happened; it just kept raining.  So we put the trees in an overwintering structure and held them till spring.  Now finally, almost one year later, we have planted our little truffle trees.  And they look great. 

We don't have any research arranged for this small orchard yet.  Right now it is a learning tool for us and a demonstration orchard to teach people what a truffle orchard is all about.  We are looking for funding to conduct research studies on a wide variety of issues including disease management of the filbert trees, testing for the presence and extent of colonization of the fungi in the soil, and fertility management. 

For more information on truffles and how to grow them, here are a few sites to visit:
  • Garland Truffles.  This is a North Carolina company.  They sell inoculated seedlings and have lots of information on their website about growing and marketing truffles.  They donated the trees for this project:
  • New World Truffieres. This is a company in Oregon.  They also sell truffle inoculated trees and have an informative website.
  • Virginia Truffle Growers.  This is a newer company than the two listed above, but they also have a good website and sell inoculated trees:
  • The North American Truffle Growers Association.  They hold winter and summer meetings where truffle growers and experts get together to share information:
  • A few years ago, I would have listed the websites of several growers who are successfully growing truffles, but there are enough of them now that I'm afraid if I make a list I might miss someone and they'll get upset.  So, I'm going to leave it to you to find some of these successful growers and read about their businesses.  Just do an internet search on, for example, "truffles North Carolina" or "truffles Tennessee" or "truffle production".  You will also find good information from Australia and Europe. 
  • Just be careful that you get your information and inoculated trees from reliable sources.  Beware of websites selling truffle trees or services that do not include a name, address, or phone number.  Putting in a truffle orchard is an investment.  Before you buy trees from someone, you should be able to ask them lots of questions, talk to people who have purchased their trees, see real evidence that their trees can produce, and visit the nursery if you want to.  Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.
Close up of one of the trees.  These are much larger than what you would usually plant because we potted them up and held them for a year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Specialty Crops Grants Available for up to $100,000!

Grants available through NCDA&CS for specialty crops
Deadline for applications is June 4
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering grants to fund new projects to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. The program, managed by NCDA&CS, is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant established by the 2008 farm bill.
“We are happy to again be able to offer this program, making nearly $1.2 million available this year through a competitive grant process,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These grants will benefit the specialty crop industry, and will help small farmers and local food efforts.”

NCDA&CS will accept grant applications ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 from non-profit organizations and corporations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Applicants must reside or their business or educational affiliation must be in North Carolina. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on June 4.

Projects involving the following specialty crops are eligible: Fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass/sod, and nursery and greenhouse crops.  Funding opportunities are also available for projects aimed at developing local and regional food systems, and improving food access. 

Grants will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual.

For grant guidelines and an application, contact the NCDA&CS Marketing Division at, by phone at (919) 733-7887, or by mail at Specialty Crop Grant, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC  27699-1020. More information is online at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Seeking Summer Employee to Work in Our Organic Research Program

2009 summer employee working in organic heirloom tomato research

NC State Professor Seeking Summer Employee to Work with
Organic Vegetables, Hops, and Herb Research in Western NC

We are looking for someone to join our team this summer to help with the general field tasks in our research and extension program on organic agriculture, hops, herbs, and truffles. The ideal person has a passion for agriculture, enjoys working outside, and is very dependable. This person must have some experience with farming or gardening. The person must be willing to work outdoors doing routine farming tasks including weeding, pruning, harvesting, spreading mulch, and lifting heavy bags of fertilizer or produce. The work will take place in open fields, the woods, and under shade structures. Solitary travel to hop yards in Madison, Buncombe, and Haywood County will occur on a regular basis. The ideal person is also detail oriented enough to collect and record data. The person works well independently and as part of a team. The position is based at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center near the Asheville airport. Much of the work will also take place at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. This is a 30-40 hour per week job. Pay is $11 per hour. The job will start in May and run through mid-October or so. This is a temporary spring-fall position and does not offer benefits. A background check will be conducted. The person will be working for North Carolina State University.

If this position describes you and you are looking for a temporary job, please submit a resume and a one page description of why you want this job and why you think you are suited for it. Email that to Include "summer job applicant" in the subject line. Only persons submitting applications in this manner will be considered. If you have questions about the position, please include them with your application. To be fair to all applicants, phone calls and emails about the position will not be answered. We will review applications and start interviewing immediately and will accept applications until someone is hired. For more information about my program, visit,,  and

Jeanine Davis, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University.

Friday, April 2, 2010

All expense paid organic training opportunity available for four NC educators working with farmers

Organic training in September 2009 at Ray Christopher's farm

Two years ago, Southern SARE awarded a grant to Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama to train county extension agents on organic horticultural crop production and marketing. That two year program was so successful that they've agreed to fund another one! This one is led by Tuskegee University in cooperation with NC State University, Auburn University, the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, and the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. This year we will offer a two day basic training session in Alabama. Next year the advanced level training will take place in western North Carolina.

Currently, we are looking for extension agents, and others working with farmers, who may be interested in traveling to Tuskegee, Alabama for basic organic horticulture production training on August 23-24, 2010. Reasonable travel expenses will be paid (transportation, lodging, and per diem). We are collecting names of those interested and available on those dates (say August 22-25 to leave time for travel). We are also collecting information on training needs. The final agenda will be based on the survey responses, but expect presentations, some case studies, and a visit to a Alabama farm that has adopted organic practices for in-the-field demonstration and discussion. To give you some idea of what this training might look like, please see my blog posts on the training we held last September in the Chapel Hill area (just click on "training" under labels on right sidebar).

If you would like to attend this training, please respond to me by April 14. Provide a short paragraph about why you want to attend this training and what you would like to learn about organic production. Remember, there are only four slots!

Please pass on this information to other potentially interested personnel working with farmers including those from FSA, NCDA, and relevant non-profit organizations.