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

News and Blog

Karen and John's Blogs
Posted 6/10/2010 8:47am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Berry Lovers:
Our red raspberries are starting to ripen. They are in very good shape this year and we should have a lot. However, with the frequent thunderstorms we've been getting we are going to be watching for the right moments to open for picking. Regular hours are out of the question!
So please stay on your toes and check your email. We will email notifications of picking hours when we have berries ready and the weather cooperates.
John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise
Qualla Berry Farm
Posted 5/21/2010 9:22pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

HI!HO!RASPBERRIO! Its May and 2010 and we are so happy. Very wet today and this rain and cooler weather is great for the raspberries.  Our strawberries are not as happy in the rain and tend to go fungal. However, they have been heavily bearing for a week and our freezer has been getting packed with yummy organic strawberries from our garden.  We are growing three kinds...Sparkle(my current favorite), Allstar, and one big beauty from a friend's patch that we dont know the name.  Sparkle comes earliest and is sweet and has the least amount of slug damage and rot issues so far.

2010 looks like the year of the BEST BERRIES.  Cherry trees are heavy with reddening fruit, mulberry tree is covered with dangling green thangs just starting to turn purple, strawberries are raging into ripe sweetness, blueberries are flowering with lots of heavy fruit set, and Raspberries are well on their way  from flowers to green fruit just starting to set.  Fire blight is on the asian pears but oh well there are only so many hours in the day and we havent gotten to cut the black twigs off yet and its spreads like FIRE.

Speaking of fire...the fireflies off Qualla Road are so exquisite its worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood and its nighttime. I am so grateful we don't have any big ole lights shining everywhere and diminishing the contrast of sparkles to darkness.  Fireflies are a southern tradition in my family where we used to catch them and put them in jars and sell them to scientists in Oak Ridge.  I loved catching them but did not like putting them in the freezer even though it did make us some pennies.  Firefly forgiveness...they keep on blinking and winking and what a show this week! Glad to see so many of those special beetles carrying on their mating rituals.

So, what about raspberry picking this year?! This year we are not committing to regular hours but will send out email alerts when berries are ripe.  Think flexible, easygoing, and abundance for all in June. We hope you are able to come when they and we are ready, with plenty ripe for the picking.  If we see there are berries ready, depending on our estimate of supply, we will announce this fact via email.  The days and times will be everchanging so pay attention starting the second week of June until fourth of July.   We are going to have raspberry plants for sale and you can learn to grow your own if you have the location and time to fuss with fruit.  Raspberries are easy in so many ways if they are happy in the environment.  You can grow some in pots as I have discovered at the side of my house and add flowers around the edges of the pot for color. They are not easy like dandelions, which we also love and have learned to eat for health and happy livers.   

We will also figure something out for sharing mulberries, sour cherries, and blueberries and keep you posted when there are more than we can handle. 

Happy Spring into Summer,

Karen and John

Posted 10/18/2009 1:11pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Friends,
I am out picking today and the berries are still abundant so we decided to open til dark.  It looks like a freeze tonight and that will end this 2009 raspberry picking season.  This year has been unusual, a long and lovely fall for the berries despite all the rain.  We are usually down to the dregs of raspberry picking and not able to be picking this late in the season.  Come on over, there are no bugs and the picking is great this afternoon.
If you haven't gotten to pick fresh raspberries yet this is probably the very last chance this year from our place.
Out the door,
Karen and John
Posted 10/18/2009 12:58pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Looks like tonight is the freeze.  No bugs today, too windy.  Lots of raspberries to pick.  Come and get the last of the berries before they are gone for this season.  I am out picking all afternoon and you are welcome for a final upick.  Come get a pound or two before dark.

Off to get in the peppers, basil, flowers, and raspberries.


Posted 10/14/2009 8:29am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

October is really starting to show its colors in the leaves.  Deep yellow pawpaw tree leaves and red leaves of dogwoods contrasts the cold damp day with gray sky and rain moving in and out and back again.  Raspberries got picked hard yesterday and may be the best ever fall berries of memory.  Thanks to all the pickers who showed up.  We froze four full trays worth yesterday and are eating fresh berries daily.  Yum.  We are closed again until our dancing relationship with the weather and the raspberry bushes indicates there are enough ripe berries for re-opening the upick.

Posted 10/13/2009 10:16am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Hi Raspberry friends,

Today Tuesday Oct 13th upick is now open. Raspberries! Lots!  Survived the rain and we are open for Self Service Upick today all day. Raspberries weight in at 4.25 per pound.  There are lots of gnats and no breeze so wear a hat and bug spray.  I will be in and out all day so you will be on your own.  Enjoy the quiet and dont mind the dogs if they bark but please dont bring your animals because my Wooly dog(the sheltie mix)and Blind Bingo(black min pinscher mix) get too willing to fight and behave very territorially whenever we are around, especially me.  Instructions are at the canvas tent. Today is a window of opportunity, the clearing before another rain.  One early bird picker is here already.  We are set up for self service and the berries are great.  Dew and damp was still on the berries this morning but they are very pickable now. I feel so humbled because I thought they would totally mold and fall off during the rain like they did earlier in the season.  This morning in the gray fog clung the glittering jewels looking fine, such pretty red colors dotting the bushes...raspberries ripe for the picking.  If you can make the time, today is the day.  More weather and the frost is pending. Call for updates today ,389-3551,if you come later in the day in case we get picked out.

Karen(and John)

Posted 10/12/2009 7:08am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
The weatherman was right.  It is a lovely wet heavy rain and I do remember drought. We are so sad to lose so many berries however.   Yesterday we worked on other projects and did not notice the berries were suddenly loaded again and perfect for a big upick day.  This rain will destroy them when they are at their peak.  Funny about nature... just goes along doing what nature does and if we miss the window of opportunity, that crop is gone.  Tomorrow we will survey the situation and may open Tuesday if there are berries worth picking.
Karen and John
Posted 10/11/2009 8:39pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
There are suddenly a LOT of beautiful berries so I will open the raspberry upick this Monday October 12th if you call me to let me know you are coming and get here before the rain.  Our number is 828-389-3551. I was surprised by how many big ripe raspberries had suddenly appeared today and there were NO bugs swarming around my head because of the breeze.  Please bring a cap and some regular or herbal bug spray if you want to pick without gnats abuzzing your face.  We have some herbal bug spray as well. Also, rig for yourself a good berry basket devised to put around your waist or hang around your neck if you want to pick hands free.  We have some plastic containers and provide the shallow cardboard boxes (the ones that drinks come in,we collect them from around town at gas stations and Ingles)but sometimes are running low in our supply. John just informed me we have boxes. Yall come! We decided to reopen to see if we can pick em all out before the rain comes in again. Some were amazingly huge and really really sweet. I will be out picking too!
Karen and John
Posted 10/7/2009 3:27pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Dear Raspberry Lovers,

We will be open for a final U-pick this Thursday evening October 8th from 5:00 til 7:00 PM. We still have lots of berries!

Rain is expected this Saturday, October 10th and frost is likely for next week. Thanks to all for a great year!

John and Karen
Qualla Berry Farm
Posted 10/1/2009 8:09am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We had a upick last night, Wednesday.  Wonderful to hear the sound of kids playing in the berries.  We have lost a lot of the crop in the rains in the last two weeks. Hope for sunshine and warmth without frost and we will have more pickable berries by Monday October 5th.