Monday, November 28, 2011

Social media workshops

If you are reading this, I might be I am preaching to the choir. However, this message is worth spreading around.  I was sent this notice about a series of workshops that show you how to use social media on your farm. These workshops  are being conducted by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association throughout NC in 2012.  See insert below for more information:

Social Media for Farmers

Want to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach new customers and grow your farm business?

You won’t want to miss this all-day hands-on workshop designed especially for farmers and taught by social media experts, Johanna Kramer (@durhamfoodie) and Cary and Grace Kanoy (GeoCore Films).

You will leave this workshop with a fully-functioning Facebook and Twitter page (or upgrade your existing pages), the skills to shoot your own short farm video using your cell phone, camera, or iPad, and the training to take better farm photos. Includes lunch. 

Cost: $10

All workshops will be held from 9:00-4:00 PM.
January 24 - Guilford County

January 31 - Watauga County

February 1 - Gaston County

February 16 - Lenoir County

March 6 - Buncombe County

August 16 - Chatham County

August TBA - Forsyth County

Call 919-542-2402, Email or 

On the web at CFSA's online store

These workshops are funded by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and presented in partnership with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, 10% Campaign, Food Corps, NC Cooperative Extension, and Know Your Farms.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slide Share: Blackberry presentation by Dr. John Clark

For those of you unable to travel to conferences, this site has links to many berry talks given in all parts of the US. For example:

Blackberry presentation by John Clark at the Virginia State Berry Conference in 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

North American Bramble Growers Call for Proposals

Attention Small Fruit Researchers

The North American Bramble Growers Research Foundation (NABG RF) is seeking proposals for the 2012 funding cycle. This year there are specific items that have been identified as important issues to growers. Please feel free to pass this along to your small fruit colleagues.

We have revised the submission process, so I hope it is easier to submit a proposal. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, Proposals are due Dec 15, 2011. 

Here is a link to the website:

The North American Bramble Growers Research Foundation (NABG RF) is the research branch of the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association (NARBA). 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Small Fruit Agent Training in NC

For the past two days, 24 agents from NC, SC, AR, TN, GA and VA attended a 2 day organic small fruit agent training session sponsored by the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium (SRSFC). The SRSFC consists of  Clemson University, the University of Georgia, North Carolina State University, the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech and the University of Arkansas.  The SRSFC was formed to help disseminate small fruit expertise and information throughout the region. One of the key functions of the Consortium is to hold agent trainings based on aspects of small fruit production. A list of the past agent trainings can be found at:

Yesterday, we had a classroom session that started with a general overview of organic production and certification.  Then a series of one hour sessions on strawberry, blueberry, caneberries, and grape organic production were presented.  There was a similar training in 2005, and most of what was presented was standard practices that help minimize pest pressure and general use of cover crops and composts. Although there are still many unknowns, there were many science based recommendations that will help agents help growers produce berries organically. Today we had a tour of the Vollmer Farm in Bunn NC. John Vollmer is the patriarch of this farm. John was one of the first farmers in the area to produce organic strawberries, and has since added blueberries and blackberries. Agents were able to see organic challenges and practices at this farm.

So, those of you in the states that are a part of the SRSFC should have agents that are better equipped to help you grow organic berries.

The picture above was taken today at the Vollmer Farm. Dr. Gerard Krewer, a retired Horticulture Extension Specialist at UGA, now a current organic blueberry grower shared his experience and expertise with the group.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Freeze ends blackberry harvest

We have a trial of primocane-fruiting blackberry selections at the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs, NC. One set of plants are grown outside and another set are under a multibay high tunnel. Normally Laurel Springs gets its first frost in the first week of October, however this year, it did not occur until last week. 

On October 17, Absalom, my assistant,  took a picture of a developing fruit cluster (photo on left). The fruit was green and there were a couple of flower buds.  He took a photo again of the same plant and same flower cluster  on October 24 (photo on right). The night before, temperatures had dropped to 22 F in the open field and almost as cold in the tunnels. All the green fruit had turned brown and the flowers had turned black in the centers.

We are conducting a few tests, but our initial thoughts are that both the chlorophyll and phenologics ozidized as a result of exposure to freezing temperatures. This is what happens to grape berries in the fall that are hit by cold before they are harvested.

The tunnels did provide some protection, but not enough to save the crop. We estimate that we lost 70-80 of our potential yield. We will be reporting on this more this winter at grower meetings.