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High Country Seed Swap & Growers Exchange Saturday, Mar. 17 at Family Central in Jefferson

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, 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. The event features a day-long open exchange of seeds, plus workshops taught by area experts on apple tree grafting, soil health, mushroom production on logs, and managing insects. 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 community space. The seed swap will continue throughout the morning and wind-down in the mid-afternoon. The “El Tacorriendo” food truck will be on-site with refreshments for sale, so people can enjoy several classes and time for seed swapping with a lunch break at their convenience.

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 get from this swap and other sources, then bring saved seeds from their crops to next year’s seed swap.

The grafting workshop and fruit-scion-wood exchange will be held from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM, led by nationally known apple experts Ron & Suzanne Joyner. 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/ Participants will also be able to choose from a Soil Health 101 class taught by Brian Chatham of High Mountain Farms at 10:00 AM. Then at 1:00 PM, the program will offer a choice between a “Shiitake mushroom log inoculation” class taught by Scott Walworth and a “Getting the Best of Bugs” class taught by Ashe Extension Agent Travis Birdsell.

The Seed Swap takes 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. The event is free and open to all gardeners and farmers in the area. For more information, 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 ashe.county.farmers.market@gmail.com