Activities, happenings, news, and other items of interest related to the Horticulture Technology Program in the Division of Natural Resources at Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina. Come grow with us!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Haywood" Brand for Local Produce

Source: HaywoodCountyNews.com
Haywood shows off produce
by Josh Boatwright
December 7, 2006 12:15 am

WAYNESVILLE — You’ve probably heard of Idaho potatoes or Vidalia onions, but how about Haywood County tomatoes?

A local group wants to make “Haywood” the brand name for quality tomatoes and other produce grown in the area through a $60,000 marketing program.

“When you buy a tomato you don’t really know where it’s coming from,” said Bill Yarborough, an agronomist for the state department of agriculture.

“What we intend to do is have a sticker on every tomato that shows where it comes from and lets people know it’s a good, wholesome, healthy product,” he said.

Yarborough and others believe boosting the popularity of home-grown produce may give the county’s shrinking group of tomato growers an edge in an ever-expanding global market. The Golden LEAF foundation agreed, providing the funds for the 18-month program called “Buy Haywood” that will involve heavy advertising among local grocers and consumers, as well as designing a special label for the produce.

Tomato farms in the region have shrunk in recent years from 300 acres to a mere 50.

Faced with limited farmland, growers still feel pressured to produce a large volume of crop each year to make the work profitable.

Tomato grower Bill Holbrook has been growing tomatoes specifically for 13 years. Though the market varies every season, Holbrook says it is getting tougher and tougher each year to produce enough crops to make a good living.

He hopes marketing local produce may be effective because of a rising demand from consumers for premium produce.

“People come from the Southern states looking for tomatoes from our area. They want mountain tomatoes,” he said.

Holbrook remains realistic, yet hopeful about the “Buy Haywood” project. For it to be a success, he said it will take a great deal of cooperation among growers to get their best produce out in the market.

“It’s a long shot, but it’s worth taking,” Holbrook said.

Buy local - The smaller farms in Western North Carolina may not produce huge quantity, but they do produce quality. That’s what farmers need to emphasize, according to Stephanie Wise, marketing specialist for the state Department of Agriculture.

Health food stores like Earth Fare and Fresh Market in the Asheville area demonstrate a big demand in the region for local, organic foods, Wise said.

“Folks are really in tune with things being local versus being shipped in. They realize it’s fresher, and because it’s fresher, it’s probably picked at a prime time, so the taste is better,” she said.

Hunger for one mountain fruit even draws lots of people from out of state each year, Wise said. The logo “NC Apples” brings many visitors to Henderson County who have come to associate the North Carolina name with tasty apples.

One of the state’s premiere tomato breeders, Randy Gardner, is working on creating a new kind of tomato that Wise hopes will bring people to Haywood County for the same reasons they visit Henderson. It doesn’t have a name, but she compares it to the heirloom variety; those round, thin-skinned tomatoes that are traditionally grown in a garden. They don’t ship as well as tougher, greenhouse-grown tomatoes, but they keep a lot more flavor and are well suited for local sale, she said.

A tomato success story - Fame of the tomatoes grown in nearby Grainger County, Tenn., has reached well beyond its state borders. Some tomato growers in this mostly rural county located just west of North Carolina ship their produce to buyers as far away as the Northeast and Midwest.

Locals say they have a distinct flavor, created by the added acidity in the soils around Cherokee Lake where many of the area’s tomato farms are located.

Their popularity became so great over the years that the county established a festival in honor of the fruit. Fifteen years running, the Grainger County Tomato Festival began with only a few growers and a couple of booths for vendors.

This past summer, the festival drew about 30,000 visitors over two days.

Grainger County only has one motel.

“Our only claim to fame in Grainger county is tomatoes. We don’t have any industry, we don’t have any rock stars, we don’t have any movie stars, just tomatoes,” said James Clark, chairman of the tomato festival for the past two years.

Clark said the grower that gets their tomatoes out first in the season can get $100 a bushel (60 pounds). Tomatoes have replaced tobacco as the big money crop in the area, he said.

“If you find something that works, you stick with it,” Clark said.

“Buy Haywood” aims to have their tomatoes out in test markets as early as this summer.

The project will also advertise locally grown cucumbers and peppers.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


The Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District and NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are sponsoring an exciting forum entitled “Biofuels In Haywood County: A forum for potential users of biofuels”. The free program addresses the many questions of biofuel use in Haywood County. The Haywood Biofuels Forum is Friday, December 8, 2006, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. in the downstairs auditorium at the Haywood County Agricultural Agency Center at 589 Raccoon Rd. in Waynesville, NC. Fleet mangers, school officials, farmers, and the public are invited to join with biofuel experts and local, state and federal government representatives at the Biofuels in Haywood County Forum. Financial support for the Forum is being provided by the State Energy Office.

Topics include an Overview of the Advantages and Statewide Status of Biofuels; Experiences with Biodiesel in fleets and equipment; Benefits to Farmers using Biofuels; Commercial Availability and Costs of Biofuels; and The Clean Cities Program and other Funding and Technical Assistance Programs. Special Guest Speaker will be NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler.

Use of biofuels in North Carolina and across the nation is increasing. Biodiesel, a mixture of petroleum diesel and biologically derived diesel fuel, is available at some commercial gas stations or by delivery from biofuels distributors in the region. Biodiesel is commonly derived from soybeans or recycled restaurant grease. Although the fuel can be burned in a pure form (B100), most often it is mixed with petroleum diesel to provide B20 (20% biodiesel/80% petroleum diesel). Most diesel vehicles require no modifications to burn biodiesel. Another biofuel is ethanol blended with gasoline. The ethanol is derived from corn and added to gasoline to provide a product such as E10 that is 10% ethanol or E85 that is 85% ethanol. E10 can be used in any gasoline burning engine and E85 can be used in “flex fuel vehicles” provided by some major vehicle manufacturers at little or no additional cost.

Interest in biofuels in the US is shared by farmers, consumers, conservationists and entrepreneurs as well as many others who recognize the importance of national goals to reduce dependence on foreign oil and improve air quality. Some school systems have begun using biodiesel to reduce the hazards of exposing school children to the toxic emissions of petroleum diesel. Biofuels also present local opportunities for economic development.

To register or for additional information, please call Bill Eaker with the Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition at 828-251-6622 or Gail Heathman with the Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District at 828-452-2741 (Extension 3).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hort Club Decorates Shook House for the Holidays

Officers of the HCC Horticulture Club along with Instructor George Thomas decorated the Shook - Smathers House for the Holidays and an upcoming wedding. You might also note the wonderful new turf that was installed by the students last spring. This is one of several community projects that the Horticulture students are involved in.

More info: Built in 1795, by Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Shook, the Shook House lies close to the Pigeon River in Clyde. It is one of the oldest if not the oldest house standing in Haywood County. Francis Asbury, famous traveling preacher who helped establish Methodism in the United States, stayed in the house in 1810. Revival meets were held in the attic and camp meetings were held on bottom land adjacent to the house. The original part of the house is of post and beam construction.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Horticulture Competition of the Carolinas

HCC Student Frieda competes in the Plant ID exam. Without flowers, this is a real test of plant ID abilities.

There are tests and then there are TESTS! The Horticulture Technology Students Competed with 4 other community colleges in Wilkesboro. The exam based on the North Carolina Certified Landscape Technician Exam was judged by three extension agents with combined experience of nearly 90 years and upper management from two of the largest landscaping firms in North Carolina (New Garden and Bland Landscaping). These volunteers were not only tough-but-fair judges, but potential employers. Talk about pressure... Our students performed admirably in the individual events. The overall title went to Alamance Community College but HCC was the winner in 20% of the individual events.Team HCC. From Left to right (Buddy, Amanda, George, Brandon, Adam, John, Frieda, Dawn, and Julie)

Alamance Community College, Central Piedmont Community college, Catawba Valley Community College, and Mayland Community College also fielded teams. Wilkes Community College hosted the competition as well as competing. Special thanks to WCC Instructors Ron Dollyhite, Donna Riddle, and Wilkes students for all their efforts and work involved in hosting this great academic competition.

HCC Student Adam answers questions on the fly while planting a tree. A competition he would win. The extension agent in the background has been a nursery specialist for 30-years.

The Professional Certified Landscape Technician Exam takes place over two days and has an exhaustive written test along with 22 field exams ranging from plant identification and pesticide application to landscape plan reading and skidsteer operation.
Julie installs pavers during a timed competition. This exam takes an hour. The judge watches and grades the entire time.

The student competition has ten events that are identical to those in the CLT exam providing the students with not only the spirited opportunity for competition, but important preparation for the certifying exam. At least one student received a job offer on sight.

Next year the competition will be held at Haywood Community College. Both Bland Landscaping and New Garden Horticultural firms are extremely interested in judging and meeting more of our students and students from other community colleges. We will also be calling on our local horticultural professionals and extension experts to judge.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Unforgettable Acacias

We covered symbiotic relationships in HOR 162 lecture recently using Acacias and Ants as an example. I came across this interesting on-line article on everything from the biologcial variation in Acacias to commercial products made from them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fall Color

I came across this on-line article on Fall color. Interesting read. It further substantiates my belief that although Horticulture Therapy got off to a slow start, it will become a much larger field of study and employment in the future.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Blog of Note is by a Landscape Designer

Hey everyone,

Just thought you might want to check out the Blog of Note from today. Whispering Crane was chosen on Blogger as a great site. I think many of you interested in Landscape Design will find it intriguing.