High Country Seed Swap & Growers School
Saturday, 3/12 at Family Central 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
On Saturday, March 12, 2016, 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 a workshop on seed starting and another 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 early afternoon. A “Totally Tomatoes” 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.
Gardeners are encouraged to bring any surplus seeds, bulbs, corms, 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.
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.
Ron and Suzanne Joyner, of Big Horse Creek Farm in Lansing, teach the grafting workshop. They 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 Seed Swap runs on community involvement, from the many gardeners who bring heirloom seeds from their gardens, to the assistance from Extension Master Gardener and Ashe County Farmers Market volunteers who make it run smoothly. Area Extension Agent Richard Boylan notes that the venue has been perfect for the event, but that participation is always crucial to make the event a success, “Ashe Family Central’s Community Space (the old school cafeteria) is a perfect spot for growers from all across the region to meet up and swap seeds in an open exchange. It’s big enough that folks can spread-out, browse seeds, and talk. The more participants who bring seeds 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, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (for the first time) 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@example.com