By Jess Kleean
On Saturday, March 4, 2017, all aspiring and practicing area gardeners are invited to Ashe Family Central (the former Ashe Central High School in Jefferson) to the High Country Seed Swap! This wonderful event features a day-long open exchange of seeds, and as a bonus, workshops on seed starting and on apple tree grafting taught by area experts. Beginning at 8:30 AM, gardeners will be able to display their own surplus seeds and view the offerings of others on tables set up in the cafeteria space. The seed swap will continue throughout the morning and wind-down in the early afternoon.
Gardeners are encouraged to bring any surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, cuttings, plants, and fruit scion wood they can to exchange. Seed swaps operate on the honor principle that gardeners will bring what they can this year, grow what they take from this swap, and bring more seeds from their crops to next year’s seed swap.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! A “Seed Saving for Gardeners” workshop taught by Ashe County Extension Agent Travis Birdsell will run from 9:00 AM-10:00. The grafting workshop and fruit-scion-wood exchange will be held from 10:15 AM – 12:30 PM, led by nationally known apple experts, Ron & Suzanne Joyner. The Joyners are nationally known for their conservation and propagation of old Southern Apple varieties. The grafting workshop taught by the Joyners will be hands-on, with participants able to learn with the actual tools of the trade. Apple rootstocks will be available for purchase at the workshop, so if participants choose, they can graft several trees to then bring home and plant themselves (a flat fee of $10 will allow participants to graft up to three fruit trees). Information about collecting scionwood samples for grafting can be found at their website: http://bighorsecreekfarm.com/collecting-scionwood/
The event is free and open to all gardeners and farmers in the area. The Seed Swap will take place in the Community Space (i.e.- former cafeteria) of Ashe Family Central, located at 626 Ashe Central School Rd., in Jefferson, NC (28640). North Carolina Cooperative Extension sponsors the event, with support from the Ashe County Farmers Market (ACFM) and the Ashe County Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
The Seed Swap runs on community involvement, from the many gardeners who bring heirloom seeds from their gardens, to the assistance from Ashe County Extension Master Gardener and Ashe County Farmers Market volunteers who make it all happen smoothly. The more participants who bring seeds and other materials to share, the better the Swap will be. This year, Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will distribute Giant Pumpkin Seeds to children wishing to participate in a season-long pumpkin growing contest, and also hold a raffle drawing at noon with valuable prizes such as landscape consultations and pruning work to be awarded to raffle winners.
This is the perfect opportunity to not only grow your farms, but help grow the community! For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call the Watauga or Ashe Cooperative Extension centers at 828-264-3061or 336-846-5850. Concurrent with the Seed Swap, the Ashe County Farmers Market membership gathers to register and prepare for the season. This year, the Ashe County Farmers Market welcomes farmers from adjacent counties (Johnson, TN; Grayson, VA; Wilkes, NC; Alleghany, NC; and Watauga, NC). Growers producing homegrown edible farm goods (i.e.-fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, etc.) may apply during the Seed Swap. For more information on joining the ACFM, e-mail [email protected]