About Local Food

Qualla Berry Farm is part of a loose community of growers and marketers throughout western NC who are seeking to provide locally grown food to people who live and visit  the mountains. We are helping to develop ways to keep our rural land in agricultural production. We are listed in the Local Food Guide produced by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. For more about U-Pick farms, tailgate markets, and community supported agriculture growers, see their website: www.buyappalachian.org

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New Dreams 2013

Posted 2/7/2013 8:45pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Sometimes the answer is No.  No more Qualla Berry farm raspberry u-pick. We are now working on other crops.  We gave our best effort to berries. This past January 2013 we began tearing down raspberry rows to make way for something else. We have surrendered after a long decade of work to create a successful u-pick commercial organic red raspberry farm.  We cannot grow the berries affordably but we did succeed in providing our community with many berries over the years. In 2012 we succeeded in harvesting a fall raspberry crop. I so appreciate every bag of berries in the freezer now. One day last fall I called some friends over and they helped clean the berry rows of fruit before the big November freeze because John and I couldnt keep up.  Cold weather is unfavorable to the fruit flies at the end of season so some nice berries were in the fields among many ruined ones.

We had two picking baskets, one for wormy mushy berries and one for good berries.  It is very laborious to pick all the ruined fruit and to take away and destroy the larvae infected fruit. The Drosophila suzuki fruit fly is apparently here to stay and we trapped thousands of them in vinegar traps, just to prove to ourselves they were in full force. Alternating weekly, the Spinosad and Pyganic were applied at night while John listened to baseball games on the radio. We need a better sprayer to be more effective but spraying did work but we need to make adjustments. In 2013 we will maintain 4 rows meticulously for ourselves to see what happens and will monitor the berries closely. We are like a science experiment in agricultural research and will keep experimenting.

Now we have exchanged our plans for season extension on raspberries in the fall to putting up an Atlas 72 by 30 ft high tunnel next to our berries instead of over our berries.  We planted half of the hoophouse in tulips, half in cover crop.  Flower bulbs...an old love of mine...were on sale at Lowes and we needed a new dream...so Tulips this spring.  

Let the good times roll with flower power to lift our hearts in gladness.  It was comforting to plant 1400 brown papery bulbs late all January. I wonder if we will get any blooms.  Time will tell. Meanwhile, I almost have seed orders ready to send off(yes, late). I am studying my Growing For Market magazines. Plus in a week we are having a Brasstown local winter food cooking class and that is a lift to my spirits.  With friends and happy times in community, we can meet every challenge. Our world needs beauty, healthy food, farmers, forests, clean water, peace, and the experience of belonging together on earth. We begin again.