Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Visit Our Research Hop Yard on July 16th

If you are a western NC hops grower, considering becoming a hops grower, a local brewer, or just interested in hops, we welcome you to visit our new research hop yard on Saturday, July 16th starting at 9:00 am.  The hop yard is located on the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River.  Directions (http://www.ncagr.gov/research/MountainHortDirections.htm).  When you get to the research station, turn onto Butler Farm Road which is on the opposite side of the road from the station (there will be signs).  Follow that out to the hop yard. 

The event will take place from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.  We will show off the trellis system, explain where we got the poles, hardware, and plants, and tell you why we built it the way we did.  There are ten varieties in production that you can study.  The sister project in Raleigh will also be described.  Cooperators on the project will explain issues related to growing hops in western NC, including diseases, insects, weeds, and marketing.  Growers from the Eastern Hops Guild (http://www.easternhopsguild.blogspot.com/) will be present to share some of their experiences, too.

The event will take place rain or shine, so come prepared.  There might be a nominal fee to offset the costs of putting on the event, so please bring a little cash.  After the event, consider attending the 2nd Annual Hops Festival in Weaverville: http://www.echoviewfarm.com/content.php?s=what's_new.

To reduce the possibility of spreading diseases or insects from hop yard to hop yard, please do not visit your hop yard right before coming to ours and clean your shoes and hands before entering yours after visiting ours.

This project and event is made possible with funding from a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant administered through the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Asking for Support for Our Alternative Crops & Organics Program

Planting a broccoli variety trial at the Mountain Research Station in spring 2011

Because of state budget cuts, NC State faculty are dependent on grants and gifts to conduct research, run extension programs, and pay staff. Many of you know my employees: Emily Bernstein with the organic unit, Caroline with the non-timber forest products project, Alison with the natural products project, Kelly working with the hops, Vicky with the Chinese medicinal herbs project, and Amy working with all of the above.  Grants have allowed me to hire this amazing staff and start some exciting new projects including erecting the research hop yard in Mills River, establishing the Mountain Organic Research and Education Unit in Waynesville, and surveying the natural products industry to help local herb growers find buyers.

Fortunately, I have been successful getting grants, but there are some issues with relying solely on them to run a program.  The major ones are that the money can only be spent on the projects they were awarded for and there are many spending restrictions.  An example is that none of my grant funds can be used to maintain our pick-up trucks.  So many of us rely on unrestricted gifts to pay for the small (and sometimes large) items and services that we cannot pay for with grants.

My staff and I are committed to continuing this program on organic agriculture, medicinal herbs, and alternative crops to help farmers and related businesses in NC.  We have some creative ideas for how to replace some of the tax-based funding we've lost, but now we are also asking for support from our friends.  So, if our program is of value to you, please consider making a tax deductible donation to help us keep it going. There are two ways to do this:

BY CHECK: Write a check to the “NC Agricultural Foundation” and include a short letter explaining (and please use the words in quotes) that it is “an unrestricted gift for Jeanine Davis’ program”. Mail it to me at 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759.

ON-LINE: The College has a secure donation website at http://tinyurl.com/34camld. To specify the donation for my program (instead of the Horticulture Department at large), on the personal information page, click “In support of” and type “Jeanine Davis” in the text box.

In either case, you will receive a letter documenting your donation for tax purposes.

Thank you for your support!