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Volunteers Needed for
River Clean Up

Volunteers are needed for the Watauga County River Clean Up on Saturday, September 19, 2015.  Please contact Wendy Patoprsty at 828-264-3061 or Wendy_Patoprsty@ncsu.edu.


Volunteers Needed for
River Clean Up

Volunteers are needed for the Watauga County River Clean Up on Saturday, September 19, 2015.  Please contact Wendy Patoprsty at 828-264-3061 or Wendy_Patoprsty@ncsu.edu.


Operation Medicine
Cabinet & Hazardous Household Waste Day

Saturday, October 10, 2015 Mark your calendars and clean out the cabinets and garage! Help us keep pharmaceutical and control-substance drugs off the streets and out of the rivers!  No questions will be asked, and any prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies can be turned in anonymously.  For more information, please call the Watauga County Cooperative Extension at 828-264-3061. Hazardous Household Waste Day will be collected at the Watauga County Landfill (336 Landfill Rd., Boone).  Items accepted include:  paint, household batteries, household cleaners, pesticides, oils, antifreeze, gasoline, propane tanks, lighter fluid, lab packs, oxidizers, florescent bulbs, and mercury. If you have any questions, please contact the Sanitation Dept. at 828-264-5305.


Grants for Diversifying
Farmers Now Available

WNC Agricultural Options is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses.  With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $178,000 to western North Carolina farmers in 2016.  The application deadline is Nov. 13. WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers' risk of trying new ventures with $3,000 and $6,000 grants.  "The WNC AgOptions program is an excellent example of grant funds providing direct support to those who need it most," said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader.  "Our farmers are arguably the most important people in our society.  I sincerely appreciate the Commission's interest in supporting western North Carolina agriculture." The Commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming.  "Farmers in western North Carolina have proven time and time again that they are very innovative, resourceful and creative in how they produce and market their products," said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.  "Our board is committed to the success of farmers in the targeted counties and we know these grants will encourage many successful projects." Applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension Agents by Oct. 16 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects.  Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org or at local Cooperative Extension Centers.  Extension Agents remain a resource for farmers throughout the year as they complete their projects. Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has awarded nearly $2 million to farmers.  Grants often pay for a simple improvement that make a big difference, such as the purchase of an air-forced refrigerator at Perry's Berry's in Burke County.  The cold storage reduced Owners Debbie and Terry Perry's blueberry losses from 20 percent in 2014 to less than 5 percent in 2015. Cooling their berries immediately after harvest enhances the quality of their product, which they sell to a variety of customers, including Food Matters in Transylvania County, Fonta Flora Brewery in Burke County and Blind Squirrel Brewery in Avery County. Wehrloom Honey in Graham County has exceeded their expectations since opening a new retail store in Robbinsville in May.  With the help of a WNC AgOptions grant, Owner Jessica Wehr added new products such as spun honey, which is a thick spreadable honey, and bee pollen, which is considered a superfood due to its rich source of vitamins. Hoopers Creek Botanicals expanded production with a 2015 WNC AgOptions grant, and Owner Wallace Souther says he is able to sell all the medicinal herbs that he can grow.  He also secured a contract with Sow True Seeds in Asheville to grow winter squash, which he says he wouldn't have been able to do without the grant.  "I feel so honored," Souther said. WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units:  Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Applicants are encouraged to attend information sessions, which will be held throughout the region in the next two months.  One will be held in Watauga County on Tuesday, September 22.  Call the Watauga Extension Office at 828-264-3061 for more information.  Check the WNC AgOptions website for other dates and locations or call Project Coordinator Jennifer Ferre at (828) 252-4783. The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1947.  WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the agriculture economy. "WNC Communities is delighted to serve as administrator for WNC AgOptions," said L.T. Ward, Vice President of WNC Commuities.  "We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support for twelve years." Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include:  representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness.  For more information, see the following: WNC Agricultural Options:  www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers:  www.ces.ncsu.edu; N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission: www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities:  www.wnccommunities.org.


Farmland Access Info

A workshop on farmland access, leasing and evaluation Wednesday, September 23rd 6:30-8 p.m. Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center 252 Poplar Grove Road, Boone, NC 28607 Getting motivated farmers onto productive farmland is a priority for farmers, local farm enthusiasts, and landowners alike.  Whether through purchase, lease arrangements, or other arrangements, making good connections is necessary to keep the farm economy growing.  Whether you are an aspiring farmer looking for your first land to work, a successful farmer seeking to lease or buy more land in the area, or a landowner hoping to lease or sell some of your land to a good steward, this workshop will broaden horizons. For more information and to RSVP, call: (828) 264-3061 or email: info@wncfarmlink.org This workshop is co-sponsored by NC Cooperative Extension, WNC FarmLink, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, and the Watauga Soil & Water Conservation District.


N.C. Continues to
Prepare for Possible Avian Influenza Outbreak

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes announced additional precautions that are being put in  place to help North Carolina prepare for a possible introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requiring all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds, to register for an NCFarmID number, Meckes said.  This will facilitate the department in alerting poultry owners about an outbreak, especially owners in close proximity to a positive farm.  Poultry owners can also sign up for a national premises ID number, but it is not required.  Anyone already part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan is exempt from this requirement.  An online sign-up form will be available after August 1. “In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” Meckes said.  “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks." Information gathered through NCFarmID registration is used solely for animal health purposes.  This critical data will provide animal health officials with necessary contact information in case of an animal health concern and help identify animals and premises that may have been affected. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is also requiring any commercial poultry grower with 200 or more birds to submit a HPAI outbreak plan.  A commercial grower would be any grower under contract with an integrated company. “It’s very important that growers think through the worst-case scenario, because a confirmation of high-path avian flu would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Meckes said.  “We want each grower to consider their resources and location to determine how they can best handle an outbreak in a way that is environmentally sensitive and gets them back online as soon as is feasible.” An HPAI Outbreak Plan template will be available on the department’s website after August 1. Growers will need to submit the plan to the Veterinary Division no later than September 15.  While only commercial growers will be required to submit the plan, all flock owners are encouraged to plan ahead and consider how they would respond to a confirmed positive. Last month, Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced that bird shows and sales would be halted from August 15 to January 15, 2016.  The intent is to prevent birds from commingling and spreading the HPAI virus.  Individual sales are still allowed to take place. For more information about avian influenza and the department’s response plans, go to www.ncagr.gov/avianflu.

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