Friday Mountain Dreams

Today’s email brought the Watauga Farmers’ Market News for tomorrow…Wish I were on the mountain, it looks like Labor Day will call for corn roasting on the grill. Here is the news….

This Saturday, professional cooking instructor Sheri Castle will be at Watauga County Farmers’ Market to demonstrate recipes using foods available that day from market vendors. Sheri will choose what she needs from the profusion of the morning, then prepare wonderful dishes to be handed out as samples. Sheri also makes the recipes available to everyone. There will be a good supply of potatoes, summer squash and every kind of tomatoes and peppers available this weekend from various vendors and any of these could be chosen as ingredients.

The corn harvest is also at it’s peak at this time of year, and David Blackburn will have a good supply of yellow Kandy Korn, white Silver Queen, and bicolor Peaches and Cream sweet corn. Bill Moretz will continue to have plenty of eggplant and fresh cut basil. Sally Thiel is continuing to harvest lots of lettuce and will have Buttercrunch, Oakleaf, and both red and green romaine lettuce to offer.

Many people are already sold on white half-runner beans, and Charles Church will have a good quantity this weekend along with fresh garlic bulbs and plenty of Swiss chard. The onions are starting to come in now, and careful shoppers can find a variety designed to suit their tastes. Jerry Harvey will have mild flavored yellow onions and Jeanette Edmisten will have medium Texas onions. Be sure to ask the farmers about the qualities of their varieties, you can then select your perfect vegetable.

Reading along I see my friend Fred First will be signing his book up the Parkway in Floyd, VA on the 12th of September at the “3rd Annual Taste of Floyd”. It looks like a good weekend for a road trip if you are so inclined…

The 3rd annual “A Taste of Floyd” will again be held on the grounds of the Harvest Moon Food Store from 11:00 to 4:00 on Saturday, September 15, during the Floyd Festival and County Fair. This event will highlight “The Slow Life” – the joys of producing and enjoying your own local produce and natural products.

There will be a new attraction this year, a Food and Wine Court, where families can sit and enjoy a selection of catered lunches, local wines from Villa Appalachia and the sounds of local musicians. Another first will be souvenir Taste of Floyd tee shirts for sale.

The Taste of Floyd brings together local and regional growers and producers of natural products.

Visitors will be able to sample offerings from Black Snake Meadery, Blue Ridge Baby Cheese Cakes, Bright’s Beef, Exquisite Table, Five Penny Farm, Good Food Good People, Honduras Coffee Co, Hooper’s Specialty Foods, Locust Grove Farms, Shady Grove Soaps, Sweet Providence Farms, and Weathertop Farms. Vendors are still signing up every day, so there will be more vendors of natural products to sample.

Admission will be $3.00 and will include a souvenir “Taste of Floyd” plate to use when sampling vendor products in the Tasting Tent.

This year, Slow Food USA, the sponsor of this event, will have an information booth and plenty of volunteers to answer questions about the fast-growing, world-wide Slow Food movement.

Local author Fred First will be signing copies of his popular book “Slow Road Home,” which highlights his articles about life in rural Floyd County.

For more information, go to or call the Harvest Moon Food Store at 540-745-4366.

Source: A Taste of Floyd set for county fair weekend –

Going to the Market…

I wish I was. While I can’t make it for tomorrows Farmers Market, if you are in the Watauga County area in the morning, check it out. Here the teaser for this week…

Shoppers at Watauga County Farmers’ Market will find many good things not available in stores. Katinka Day will have some great tasting but impossible to ship heirloom tomato varieties German Johnson and Mountain Pride along with grape and Roma tomatoes. Katinka will also have locally grown Sugar Baby watermelons and some really good cantaloupes.

Enjoy fried green tomatoes? Kenneth Oliver specializes in rainbow colors and will be glad to supply you with a few green, red or yellow tomatoes, purple, red or Giant green peppers, or some nice looking cabbage. James Wilkes of Faith Mountain Farms will have plenty of Kandy Korn this weekend, sunflowers and Zinnias for arrangements, and lots of basswood and just a little sourwood honey to offer. Try some of James’ home baked organic breads and stop next door for some free trade organic freshly roasted coffee from Bald Guy Brew.

Shady Grove Gardens has bright and festive bouquets of Dahlias and Zinnias as well as uncommon flowers such as purple and lime Lisianthus.

Travis Tinsman of Mountain Heritage Crafts is a new vendor at the market this year, with handmade Appalachian style birdhouses decorated with natural materials gathered right here in the region.

Members of the Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture will be at the market each Saturday to give out information and ask for volunteers for their local food project and the community food assessment. Stop by and pick up some free seeds suitable for planting in late summer or early fall.

Watauga County Farmers’ Market is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. We are at the Horn in the West, turn next to First Citizens Bank on Highway 105 Extension and go to the top of the hill. We will be there rain or shine!

Grab some of the local produce and enjoy a meal for me. There is something about the mountain air that makes all food taste good but there is something bout mountain grown food that just tastes great. Go, meet the farmers, buy some food…enjoy the community…I wish I was there.

The Bush Administration Drops The F-Bomb on Appalachia

It’s not straight from the VP’s mouth, but it’s straight from his policy book. Energy companies rule and all you folks living in the neighborhood can “just go f— yourselves” to quote on Administration Official.

The one thing that has been consistent about the Bush Presidency is that never have so many environmental laws been gutted, overwritten, or just plain ignored in such a short amount of time.

New rules would ease coal mining restrictions | – Houston Chronicle

The Bush administration wants to quit requiring coal operators to prove that their surface mining will not damage streams, fish and wildlife.Under proposed new regulations that it will put out Friday for public comment, strip mine operators would have to show only that they intend “to prevent, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available,” such damage.

I think the kicker is this from the end of the above article though…

The latest changes to the buffer-zone rule were first proposed more than three years ago.

At a hearing in March 2004, opponents talked of floods and flattened peaks and of homes swept away or devalued in central Appalachia.

A lawyer for the National Mining Association said the mines’ preference was to get rid of the rule entirely, because it is confusing and there are other protections for streams in federal law.

The telling part of that final statement is left unsaid in the article though..

Clean Water Action: Save Our Mountains, Save Our Streams

The Bush administration has changed Clean Water Act rules that prohibit dumping of wastes, especially mountaintop removal coal mining waste – but also hardrock mining waste, construction and demolition debris, and other industrial wastes – to bury streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, ponds and other water bodies around the country.

This May 3, 2002 rule change puts virtually all of our nation’s waters at risk by overturning a 25-year old regulation that forbid the use of wastes to fill and bury waters.

Then there is this article:

EPA eliminates Clean Water Act protection for many non-navigable waters and wetlands

As a result of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule changes to the enforcement of the Clean Water Act, it now only automatically applies to permanent navigable waters and the wetlands attached to these waters. Intermittent and non-navigable waters and their wetlands may or may not be protected depending upon other criteria including whether or not they are attached to navigable waterways. These changes were the result of a Supreme Court ruling last year that ruled in the words Justice Anthony Kennedy that there must be a “significant nexus” between a wetland and/or waters and a navigable waterway. The cause of the navigable water requirement in the Supreme Court’s ruling is the wording of the Clean Water Act itself, which under Title I Section 101(a)(1) states:

it is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated by 1985.

So the protections the Mining Association Lawyer was talking about don’t exist…Are you surprised?

This Administration has systematically destroyed the laws and policies put in place to protect Americans. Be it your health, your jobs, your right to an education…None of these things matter to this Administration. The only thing that matters is that the companies with the most friends and relatives on their boards continue to do business unfettered by legal restraints. Even if it takes rewriting the laws in the late night committee meetings on the eve of the vote…

If you have stuck with me this far…go write a letter to your Representatives in Congress. Tell them to say NO…NO to Mountaintop Removal…NO to Water Pollution…NO to Air Pollution…NO to Drilling in ANWAR…NO to the indiscriminant drilling in the Rockies…Aw hell, just tell the to say NO to Bush and Chaney for a change.

For more info and to Take Action follow these links…

Watauga County Farmers' Market News

One of the things I miss now that I’ve returned from my virtual Valle Crucis vacation was spending time at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market. The virtual meals I ate on this summer’s trip were delightful if only because of the ingredients supplied at the Market (OK, in all honesty, every meal eaten with a view from the mountain is pretty dang good…Even hot dogs) . Yes folks my tongue is sticking so far into my cheek it’s a good thing I’m typing and not speaking ’cause nobody could figure out what I was saying otherwise…The point I’m trying to make is, from my past visits it looks like ya’ll have a great resource going here, you really should use it and get to know the folks raising the food you eat. Not every community has the option.

Third Week of August, 2007

One of the advantages of shopping at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market is not only the number of varieties available, but that specific information is available about each variety directly from the grower. Tomatoes and peppers in particular have a wide range of tastes. You can select either sweet or hot banana peppers grown by Don and Roger Owens, or perhaps you would prefer their jalapeno or bell peppers. Roger and Don also offer grape tomatoes, Mountain Gold, Mr Stripey, and pink heirloom tomatoes, along with White Half-runner beans. Kenneth Oliver will have Early Girl, Better Boy and Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, green and purple bell peppers, and both red and white potatoes this weekend. Reba Green will not only have plenty of Pink Girl and Better Boy tomatoes for the market, but she should also have enough Silver Queen corn for everyone to get a taste of the homegrown goodness.

Richard Boylan will have lots of garlic in diverse types that are sure to include your favorites. Iva Lee Hayes will certainly have fresh kraut by the Saturday after this coming one, but in this warm weather it is possible it will be ready even sooner.

Landscape plants and shrubs are also available and blooming in variety, such as Alicia Breton’s selection of Hydrangeas including Tardiva and Limelight. While you are comparing types you are invited to relax in one of Sheila Sherman’s custom Adirondack chairs and see the matching accessories all in western red cedar.

The Woodlands Barbecue Restaurant will be on hand this Saturday offering up plates for your lunchtime enjoyment. Meals will be on sale starting at about 11:00, and they are expected to go quickly!

Watauga County Farmers’ Market is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. We are at the Horn in the West, turn next to First Citizens Bank on Highway 105 Extension and go to the top of the hill. We will be there rain or shine!

Source: Watauga County Farmers’ Market News

From just down the valley (virtually speaking) Tom Philpott has this to say at Grist about the new criticism being tossed at the local food proponents…

Attention farmers’ market shoppers: Put that heirloom tomato down and rush to the nearest supermarket.
By seeking local food, you’re wantonly spewing carbon into the atmosphere.
That’s the message of a budding backlash against the eat-local movement. The Economist fired a shotgun-style opening salvo last December, peppering what it called the “ethical foods movement” with a broad-spectrum critique.
Among the claims: organic agriculture consumes more energy than conventional, and food bought from nearby sources often creates more greenhouse-gas emissions than food hauled in from long distances.

I really like his reasoning behind the criticism…

The sustainable-food movement’s achievements have thus far been largely cultural. In other words, despite all the attention from celebrity chefs, best-selling authors, and, ahem, environmental webzine columnists, the vast bulk of food consumed in this country still travels gargantuan distances, consumes unspeakable amounts of fossil fuel in its production and distribution, and leans heavily on poisons and water-polluting artificial fertilizers.

Followed by…

And while the sustainable-food movement’s power may be causing vapors within the pages of the Economist and the New York Times op-ed page, Wall Street hasn’t gotten the memo. In the stock exchanges, shares in agribiz powerhouses Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, John Deere, Smithfield, and Tyson are all trading at or near all-time highs. That means that the “smart money” isn’t quite as impressed by the rise of buy-local campaigns as commentators on either side of the food-miles debate are. For unsentimental investors, the profit prospects for industrialized agriculture, geared for long-haul distribution, are rosier than ever.

If you haven’t discovered Tom’s thought provoking pieces at Grist yet, click on over and read some of what this Valle Crucis farmer has to say. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Source: If buying locally isn’t the answer, then what is? | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 16 Aug 2007

Land for Tomorrow: A coalition to guard North Carolina's natural and cultural resources

I ran into a link to this site over at Hillbilly Savants…Go check them out. Maybe they can keep the North Carolina Mountain Dream alive until I get there.

Land for Tomorrow is a statewide partnership of conservationists, farmers, business leaders, local governments, health professionals, and community groups urging the General Assembly to provide $1 billion over five years to protect the state’s land, water, and special places before they are irreversibly lost.

Protecting North Carolina’s critical land will provide:

  • Clean drinking water
  • Clean air
  • Thriving farms and forests
  • Places to hunt, fish and watch wildlife
  • Places to exercise and enjoy the beauty of North Carolina
  • Less damage from flooding
  • Places of historic significance and ecological value
  • Preservation of North Carolina’s natural and cultural heritage
  • Strengthened communities
  • Jobs and a sustainable economy

Source: Land for Tomorrow: A coalition to guard North Carolina’s natural and cultural resources

America's Roadside Bloomery

It’s been a while since Fred First came up with this idea…contest? So I thought I’d throw out another mention just to see if I could push it about a bit…

It would be neat for contributors from all over the country to offer their images to an aggregate gallery called Unplanted Gardens: America’s Roadside Bloomery, I thought. And here it is!

All images should include in their composition a road of some kind, just to place it, and then the wildflowers that grow there unplanted. Highway department wildflower beds don’t count.

Each image should be 72 dpi, max size of 800 pixels on the largest side. Information should minimally include the location, if possible some ID on the flowers, and any other pertinent or interesting information. Please give your image files descriptive names, e.g., BlackEyesSusan.jpg. or Virginia_Backroads.jpg

Go check out the rest of the requirements and check out the submissions at America’s Roadside Bloomery – powered by SmugMug. When you send in a shot, tell him Gary sent ya…

Here’s the shot of mine he chose to highlight…

Todd, North Carolina

Todd, North Carolina is one of the few places I haven’t managed to trek through in my western North Carolina mountain stomping grounds to be. I read about Todd before our first trip and it’s been on the short list of places to visit ever since. But for some reason, we just haven’t made the trip yet. A link on Fred’s Fragments From Floyd about a chance conversation with the author Lee Smith at Hindman Settlement School led to her Op-Ed at the NY Times.

WHEN we bought our mountain cabin here two decades ago, Todd was almost a ghost town. Only the General Store (established 1914) had stayed open since Todd’s heyday back in the early 1900s.

But this summer evening, I find a traffic jam when I head into town (population only 50, but 900-plus in the area) to hear some old-time music at the store’s Friday jam, and check out the dance at the old Mercantile building.

Source: Fiddling for Dollars – New York Times

A while back, Marie Freeman did a series of photos in Todd on her BlueRidge blog. You can find them here…Todd, North Carolina. I see Marie caught the latest news from New York also…

If you hurry down to Todd today, they are having their “Storytelling” at 6pm every Tuesday. This week (today, Aug 7) it’s Charlotte Ross; next week, Aug 14th has Orville Hicks on the schedule. You can check their calendar at the website Todd General Store.

On the second Saturday in October Todd hosts the New River Festival on the banks of the New River‚ which flows beside the town. Once a bustling railroad center‚ the town of Todd is now a quiet hamlet. This festival offers an old-fashioned gospel sing‚ a checkers playoff‚ a horseshoe toss‚ craft displays‚ storytelling‚ and bluegrass music all day.

Local Food – Mountain Style

Yesterday I began reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It is seldom that I am captured on the preface by the writing style of an author the way this book captured me…

We wanted to live in a place that could feed us: where rain falls, crops grow, and drinking water bubbles right up from the ground.

That is the way my thinking started when my North Carolina Mountain Dream first began to manifest itself. I had just returned from a Colorado trip and decided that I wanted mountains round me when I settled into “retirement”. But the one thing my trip brought home was the relative dryness of the West. As my dream began to form, I realized the Blue Ridge Mountains I had visited for the first time a couple of years earlier were calling. Research on the internet led to the discovery of Valle Crucis and the surrounding area. Once found, it was the story of the place that kept me returning and exploring until initial dram was realized and I brought the family into the mountains to try and share my dream, my vision of a future.

In line with my reading of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, here’s the Watauga County Farmers’ Market announcement for this week. If you are actually living my dream, head on over and support your local farmer. It’ll help you, too.

Watauga County Farmers’ Market is open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. We are at the Horn in the West, turn next to First Citizens Bank on Highway 105 Extension and go to the top of the hill. We will be there rain or shine!

All the good things of summer are becoming available. Farmers will have fresh sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, and there will plenty of fresh cut flowers to decorate the table. Bill Moretz will be harvesting the first of the cantaloupes from his garden, and there will be watermelons as well to help with the summer heat.

Joan Knox of sourdough bread fame is announcing her new bread mixes. She will have 6 varieties available. The mixes come with complete instructions. They are so easy any “sweetheart” can bake fresh bread. Joan will also have no sugar added fried apple pies for customers who have to watch their sugar intake.

The first ever Bamboo Valley Farm Festival will be held this Friday, August 3 at Hickory Lane Gardens. Activities will include live music and a barbecue. Proceeds will benefit the Blue Ridge Land Trust, the High Country Conservancy, and the National Committee for the New River. Call 964-5189 for more information.

The 2007 High Country Farm Tour & Garden Tour is also this weekend, and you can save on admission by buying your button in advance at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market this Saturday. Volunteers are still needed, and volunteers will receive a free button to take the tour on the day they are not volunteering. For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Peggy at 919-542-2402. Volunteer training will take place at this Saturday’s market.

Source: Watauga County Farmers’ Market Message