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High Country Seed Swap Happening on March 16 in Jefferson

By Nathan Ham

Gardeners from all across the High Country are invited to the High Country Seed Swap at Family Central in Ashe County on Saturday, March 16.

The annual event allows growers to exchange seeds and take part in a pair of workshops featuring organic pest control and apple tree grafting. The seed swap begins at 8:30 a.m.

Seeds will be set up at each table with gardeners sharing the seeds from crops that they have had success growing. The seed swap will continue through the afternoon.

The event continues to be important for High Country gardeners as they can bring in not only seeds but also bulbs, cuttings and plants. Growers traditionally grow crops from seeds they get at the seed swap and then return the following year with seeds from their crops and share them.

Times for the workshops have been announced for those that want to participate in the workshops as well as the seed sharing. The grafting workshop will be from 10 a.m. until 12:20 p.m. and will be led by Ron and Suzanne Joyner. The session begins with classroom information from 10-11 a.m. and hands-on practice from 11 a.m. until 12:20 p.m. There will be a $10 fee to graft up to three fruit trees and there will be apple rootstocks available to purchase.

The organic pest control class will be taught by Watauga County Cooperative Extension Agent Richard Boylan from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m.

“This class has been well-received at the 2018 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Sustainable Agriculture Conference, the Organic Grower’s School Spring Conference and other regional events,” Boylan said. “The seed swap presents a great opportunity for local farmers to access this class at no cost. It will cover the efficacy and optimal timing of available organic pest control products, based upon recently published results, regional research farm tests and local extension experience.”

The seed swap is sponsored by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension of Ashe County with support from the Ashe County Farmers Market and the Master Gardener volunteers of Ashe County.

As always, the seed swap is free and open to the public and is a great way for growers to come together and maybe grow something new or share expertise on how certain crops grow in the High Country.

“The seed swap runs on community involvement, from the many gardeners who bring heirloom seeds from their gardens to the assistance from the Master Gardener volunteers of Ashe County 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,” said Boylan.

For more information, call the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Watauga County (828-264-3061) or Ashe County (336-846-5850) Centers.