Get your hop on

Feeling hoppy? On Saturday, July 16, from 9 to 11 a.m., visit the "hop yard" at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River. The aim is to provide useful information to local brewers, Western North Carolina hops growers, those interested in becoming hops growers and folks just plain interested in hops.

Researchers will show off the trellis system, explain where they got the poles, hardware, and plants, and describe their construction methods.

There are 10 varieties in production that visitors can study, and the sister project in Raleigh will also be described. Visitors will also hear about some of the issues related to growing hops in WNC, including diseases, insects, weeds and marketing. Growers from the Eastern Hops Guild (http://www.easternhopsguild.blogspot.com) will be present to share some of their experiences too.

The event will take place rain or shine, so come prepared. There might be a nominal fee to offset the costs of putting on the event, so please bring a little cash, say organizers (the state budget has cut funding for many programs at the Research Station, and donations are being accepted). After the event, consider attending the Hops Festival in Weaverville (for information, visit the website, http://avl.mx/3q).

To reduce the possibility of spreading diseases or insects, please do not visit your hop yard right before coming to the Research Station, and clean your shoes and hands before entering yours after visiting.

This project and event is made possible with funding from a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant administered through the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Directions to the Research Station are available at http://www.ncagr.gov/research/MountainHortDirections.htm. When you get to the Research Station, turn onto Butler Farm Road, which is on the opposite side of the road from the station (there will be signs). Follow that out to the hop yard.

North Carolina citizen group releases video educating public on sewage sludge risks

In keeping with its mission to educate the public about the practice of spreading toxic sewage sludge on farm and forest land,  the Sewage Sludge Action Network announced the release of a new documentary video, created by North Carolina filmmakers Don Yonavjak and Tina Motley-Pearson. The documentary aims to raise public awareness about the issue.

"Farmland application of toxic sewage sludge is a severe environmental insult and a largely ignored crisis that has been kept from the public for over 30 years," the group's press release stated. "This devastating practice is an under-recognized source of air and water pollution, food contamination, human illness and death."

The video can be found on Vimeo at http://vimeo.com/24854061.

Wild Herb Weekend coming July 22-24 to Valle Crucis

The North Carolina Herb Association is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Wild Herb Weekend, July 22-24, at the Valle Crucis Conference Center.

Speakers include Kathleen Maier, well-known herbalist and director of Sacred Plants Traditions in Charlottesville, Va.; Sunshine Brosi, ethnobotanist from Frostburg State University; and Alan Muskat, comedian and wild-mushroom expert.

Organizers promise "something for everyone at this intimate conference. Whether you grow herbs for a hobby, use herbs for healing, or want to start a commercial herb operation, you will find many interesting sessions, hands-on workshops and plant walks to participate in."

North Carolina researcher Jeanine Davis will offer a history of the organization at a special Friday-night presentation, which includes cake, a Best Foods contest and three $50 cash prizes.

Meals, lodging and a one-year membership in the NCHA are all included in the registration price.  Student and senior pricing is available. To register and see the full line up of speakers and activities, visit the NCHA website at http://www.ncherbassociation.org/whw.html.

For more information please call Amber Baker at 828.254.1921 x5843 or email newsletter@ncherbassociation.org.

— Send your farm-and-garden news to mvwilliams@mountainx.com or call 251-1333, ext. 152.

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