Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Early Bird Registration for NC-VA Hops Conference in March Ends Soon!

Early Bird Registration for the Beginning Hop Grower Program and the 1st Annual NC-VA Hops Conference on March 13 and 14 in Winston-Salem, NC ends on Friday. So take advantage of the discount and register this week. We have over 100 people registered for the conference! There is still room for exhibitors, too. If you are a grower and have a supplier of poles, cable, hardware, rhizomes, coir twine, etc. that you think could benefit from exhibiting at the conference, to them a favor and share the Eventbrite link for more information and to register.

Of course, if you miss the early bird registration, you still have plenty of time to sign-up, it will just cost you a little more!

Monday, February 16, 2015

It’s beginning to look a lot like broccoli – 2015!

Margaret Bloomquist is a research assistant in my program. She coordinates all of our broccoli projects and she wrote this blog post to keep you informed about our activities with broccoli. We are gearing up for another summer of broccoli research! There is a lot of excitement throughout the state for broccoli as a new cash crop for conventional and organic growers. Our efforts at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC are complemented with on-farm trials at six regional farms. Stay tuned for updates on participating growers and opportunities for education and collaboration throughout the season.
Join us at the Winter Vegetable Conference, February 25th to 26th-we will have a booth there highlighting all of our broccoli projects.

Eastern Broccoli Project

This multi-state research project is in its fifth year. The project goal is to create and sustain an East Coast broccoli industry. Public and private breeders are working to develop varieties specifically for East Coast conditions. Our role is to grow out these new breeding lines and compare them to existing varieties.  This is also being done at locations in Maine, New York, Virginia, and South Carolina. These trials contribute invaluable information for the breeders in developing regionally-adapted varieties, improving quality, and heat tolerance. Other important aspects considered in our research include field management, marketing, and nutrition. 

Because of our high elevation and cooler temperatures, WNC is uniquely situated to grow broccoli through the summer months, potentially filling a supply gap and creating a new market for mountain growers. 
                               Research Station Field, 2014 Phase I and II Trials

Our large breeding lines screening trials (called Phase I trials) and trials in which we look at a smaller number of more advanced lines at five planting dates (called Phase II trials) will continue at the Waynesville research station this season, where we’ve looked at over 85 new broccoli breeding lines to date! Our Phase III trials bring the best performing varieties to our local farms to study how they produce under “real life” conditions. Three cooperating farms in Henderson County will grow out the top three varieties from research station trials this summer season. 

This project is led by Cornell University, and is funded by USDA-SCRI program. 
                               Jason Davis of North River Farms with 2014 Phase III Broccoli Harvest

Not all conventional varieties perform the same under organic management. The goal of our third funded year of organic broccoli research, made possible by the Organic Farming Research Foundation, is to look at the best available organic varieties for western North Carolina organic farms. We trialed 30 varieties at the Organic Unit of the Mountain Research Station in 2012 and 2013. 
                               2013 Organic Broccoli Variety Trial, Mountain Research Station
In 2014 and again for the 2015 season, we will bring the top six varieties for summer broccoli crown production to our area farms. Three organic farms in the region will participate this year with on-farm trials utilizing variety selection and best system management practices developed through the project.
                               2014 On-farm broccoli trial, Grassy Branch, NC
For all things broccoli, please contact Research Assistant Margaret_Bloomquist@ncsu.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, February 13, 2015

WNC Farmlink Coordinator Position in Asheville, NC!

Are you the right person to lead this exciting program matching farmers with farmland? So many people in western NC want to farm but don't have access to land. At the same time, there is land for sale or lease that would be perfect for farming. The person in this position must be very personable and sensitive to the many issues on both sides. This person will populate and maintain the database of land owners and land seekers and help make appropriate matches. Educating people about the program and the ins and outs of leasing, buying, and selling land is also part of the job as well as maintaining the WNC Farmlink website . This program was initiated in 2013; all the groundwork has been laid. The previous coordinator will be available to help the new person get started and actually be working closely with him/her.

This is a program within a large federal grant funded project called Agriventures. The WNC Farmlink program is led by Dr. Jeanine Davis at NC State University, so it is a NC State University position. But the position is housed in the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy office in downtown Asheville and under the direct supervision of someone there. The position reports to an advisory committee of project partners from NC State University, the NC Cooperative Extension Service, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Organic Growers School, Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation and Development, one or more regional Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project

This is a 26 hour per week position for approximately 17 months contingent upon available funding and satisfactory performance. A main objective of this project is to make this a sustainable program that can continue after the grant has ended. Compensation is commensurate with experience up to $26,000 per year. Paid sick days, annual leave days, and holidays provided, but no health insurance or retirement benefits.

Qualifications: Strong interpersonal and facilitation skills; a large amount of creativity; self reliance; ability to take initiative; ability to effectively manage multiple tasks; ability to work independently and in project teams; a sense of humor; positive attitude and energy; team spirit; and good communication skills. Minimum of one year of experience coordinating workshops, community meetings, and other such events. Minimum of an undergraduate degree is required. Strong computer skills and proficiency with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel required. Familiarity with local and regional food systems and an existing network of relationships within the agricultural community are preferred. Must be able to work well with all types of agricultural producers and staff of agricultural support organizations.  Several years of experience with land conservation and agricultural support organizations is a plus, as well as working with a coalition.

How to Apply: To apply for this position, you must go through the North Carolina State University Job Application website. This is an on-line process where you create an account, fill out an application, and upload your CV (resume), cover letter, and contact information for three references. Here is the direct link to the position on the NCSU Jobs site. This position will remain open until we find the appropriate individual to fill it. Please do not call with questions or to plead your case. We expect a large number of applicants and since we can't respond to all inquiries, we want to treat everyone fairly. Thanks for understanding.