From farm to table
Get to know your local farmers and learn some tricks from green thumb masters during the annual Jackson County Farm Tour and Garden Walk from 1 to 5 p.m. this weekend, July 20 and 21.
The tour takes participants from sheep farms to urban gardens on a self-guided agricultural jaunt across Jackson County. The event gives the public a chance to meet the farmers who grow and raise their food. It is put on by the Jackson County Farmer’s Market.
Tour-goers can choose any number of farms and gardens from a list of 10 and drop in throughout the weekend to learn the secrets of the agricultural trade. A portion of the farm sites are open only on Saturday and a portion are open only on Sunday. Bring your wallet and a cooler to load up on locally-grown food from the tour.
To take part, a car pass costs $15 per day or $25 for both days. Students and senior citizens pay $10 per day. Participants can pay upon arrival at their first stop on the tour or by stopping at the Jackson County Farmer’s Market in downtown Sylva Saturday morning. Tour maps are also available at each site.
Saturday, July 20
Pomme de Terre farm, John Beckman • Cullowhee
A diversified farm raising vegetables, fruits, trout, plant starts and landscape materials using organic practices. Visitors can see the cultivation of melons, blueberries, raspberries, aronia berries, an apple and pear orchard, herbs and rainbow trout. Plants, trees, produce and trout will be for sale during the tour.
The Dawson Green, Neil and Peggy Dawson • Tuckasegee
The Dawson Green is a greenhouse and garden enterprise. It grows herb and vegetable plants for the home gardener. In addition, the farm raises tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce in late winter and spring to extend the fresh vegetable season. The farm’s large garden is in raised beds and employs the French Intensive planting method. This method provides crops nearly year-round.
Joyce and Allen Moore • Little Canada
These farmers raise sheep for meat and wool, protecting their flock with a guardian dog and donkey. The couple has a small flock of chickens, a large garden, a hoop house for tomatoes and blueberries and grapes when the weather cooperates. The farm also has a solar greenhouse for starting seeds, over-wintering perennials and growing wintergreens.
Barbara Connell Registered Nursery • Caney Fork
This operation is a small nursery located on a one-acre tract. It grows a variety of herbs and vegetable plants for spring gardens. The gardening is done above ground and yields tomatoes, peppers, squash, horseradish, herbs, greens, asparagus and taters. Everything is composted to revitalize the beds yearly. This garden shows that growing in a small space can be accomplished with great rewards.
Full Spectrum Farms • Cullowhee
Located on 34 acres, this farm collaborates with the Autism Society of North Carolina. Volunteers help participants plant, harvest, prepare and deliver produce. Pottery and other crafts are created as persons with autism learn skills in a nurturing environment. The farm is slated to be a home for adults with autism once residences and an activity center are built.
Balsam Gardens, Becca Nestler and Steven Beltram • Sylva
Balsam Gardens became a fulltime farm in the spring of 2009. The farmers are dedicated to sustainable and ecological growing practices, producing fresh vegetables, flowers and a variety of pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free meat. The motto of these farmers is “to enable a chicken to be a chicken, an earthworm to be an earthworm, and a beet to be a beet.”
Saturday and Sunday
St. John’s Episcopal Church • Sylva
This is an organic garden of 12 raised beds that is supported and maintained by the parish of St. John’s. The land used for this garden is owned by First Citizen’s Bank, but due to the elevation of the parcel of land, is unusable by them. Instead it was put to good use, growing fresh vegetables that are used to make soup and salad the parish serves during their Wednesday community suppers.
Jennie Ashlock • Sylva
This small urban garden is the perfect site to demonstrate how to so a lot with a little. Jackson County residents who enjoy growing vegetables but have limited space can stop in an learn how to make the best use of gardening space. This urban garden is only 10 feet by 4 feet, but utilizes a hay bale, vertical space, and containers to maximize potential
Community Garden • Sylva
The Sylva Community Garden is located on a one-third acre of land in downtown Sylva and is a true community of people and plants. The garden consists of 20 individual plots adopted by volunteers who organically grow produce for themselves and also for donation to people in need, mostly through the community.
Vegenui Garden, Ron and Cathy Arps • Sylva
These gardeners use organic methods and mostly muscle power to grow on three-fourths of an acre. The gardeners trellis many of the garden’s plants using readily available materials like rebar, stakes and string, and grow everything from arugula to zucchini on a five-year crop rotation based on the unique fertilizer requirements of the vegetables. A drip irrigation system is also used to deliver water to crops.