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Small Farms Week Starts in Watauga County on Monday, Day-Long Event Culminates With Tour of Three Farms

March 21, 2014. Because Bill Moretz, owner of Moretz Mountain Orchard, won the N.C. A&T State University Small Farmer of the Year award last year, Watauga County and the Cooperative Extension kicks off the state’s Small Farms Week on Monday, March 24. 

Photo courtesy of Watauga County Cooperative Extension
Photo courtesy of Watauga County Cooperative Extension

The day-long event begins at the Boone United Methodist Church at 9:30 a.m. The morning session will include a keynote address by Dr. Manny Reyes of NCA&T State University on sustainable farm and community practices in mountainous regions, followed by breakout sessions on “Perennial Plants and Sustainability Strategies for Hillside Farming”, “Streamside Conservation Buffers on the Farm,” and “Turning a Profit with Small Scale Livestock Production?”

After lunch, there will be a farm tour with three stops: Otus Branch Farm (cover crops), Panoramic View Christmas Tree Farm (choose & cut and value-added)  and Moretz Mountain Orchard (a diversified commercial orchard, and the winner of 2013 small farmer of the year).

Registration and lunch are both FREE for farmers. Please contact the Cooperative Extension office at 264-3061 to register, or you can register here: http://www.ncat.edu/academics/schools-colleges1/saes/cooperative-extension/sfw2014.html

Farm Tour Itinerary

1) Otus Branch Farm, 10 Big Hill Rd., Boone, NC 28607: Summer/Fall Cover Crops Demonstration – Three techniques of using cover crops to enhance soil fertility and reduce erosion are showcased at this organic market garden site. A summer-planted bed of millet was mowed before the fall planting of garlic now growing there. Two beds of summer-planted buckwheat were allowed to frost-kill, with the crop residue left in place to protect the soil over the winter, yet allow easy spring time cultivation and planting. Three other beds were seeded in late summer to wheat and clover, which will be allowed to grow until late May, and then mowed for summer cash crop plantings.

2) Panoramic Tree Farm, 368 Panoramic Lane, Boone, N.C. 28607: A choose-and-cut Christmas tree operation run by Joey Clawson and his family. Joey has worked with Cooperative Extension for many years and markets his farm as a “family experience.” Panoramic Tree Farm features a petting zoo and a wreath-making shop to sell value-added farm products. Clawson practices integrated pest management, sells produce and maintains a beef cattle herd.

3) Moretz Mountain Orchard and Farms, 2820 Big Hill Road, Boone, N.C. 28607: Recipient of the 2013 Small Farmer of the Year Award, Bill Moretz grows a variety of fruiting trees, shrubs, vines in a system that sustainably and abundantly produces on steep slopes. He grows apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, brambles blueberries, kiwi, and many other fruits, vegetables, and crops. He sells through direct marketing and Community Support Agriculture.