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 5/19/2008 9:54pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Friends of Qualla Berry Farm,

Spring is hitting its peak here in the North Carolina Mountains and it looks like we have the beginnings of a very good fruit year. We luckily missed the two late frosts in April so our blueberries, cherries, mulberries, and Asian Pears are full of fruit. The raspberries are still recovering from the past two hot dry summers but we will have a small June crop this year.

If you have not seen our website lately please go to www.quallaberryfarm.com to see our new format including our blogs (we are still learning about blogs), picking updates, photos, easy directions, email list signup, and event calendar.

We would like to invite you to participate in our Weeding Work Party to be held this Saturday May 24th (this Saturday of Memorial Day weekend). Our hope is to blitz through the raspberry beds and have them weeded and mulched so there is plenty of room for the new growth coming on.

 We intend to barter for weeding labor this year and give our community an opportunity to participate in the work of growing berries. We will trade a $5.00 share coupon for every half-hour of work, redeemable for products from our farm as listed below. Any time this Saturday that you have available from a half hour to a half day for weeding and mulching is fine. Please come between 12 noon and 6PM on May 24th with sunhat, sunscreen, gloves, and your favorite weeding tool or hand clippers.  

The following are items we have to offer in exchange for helping us with the raspberry beds. Quantities are limited; everything is organically grown.

Available for redeeming your coupons this Saturday:
Raspberry plants
Wildflower and Sourwood Honey

Redeemable later in the season (we’ll write share coupons):
We-Pick Strawberries (May-June)
U-pick Pie Cherries (June)
U-pick Mulberries (June)
(the first three above are exclusively available to Work Party participants)
U-Pick Raspberries (June or September)
U-Pick Blueberries (July)
We-Pick Asian Pears (September)

In addition we will place workers who come to the Weeding Work Party on a special mailing list for first notification of openings for U-Pick Berries. (With a smaller berry crop, there may be times we will open by invitation only and not open to the public)
Please email us at jkqualla@verizon.net if you can come, or call 828-389-3551 for more information.

Happy Gardening!
Karen Hurtubise and John Clarke
Posted 5/6/2008 10:15pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Our Raspberry plants are beginning to flower and our rows in dire need of weeding.  Email us if you are interested in helping us weed and mulch the rows in exchange for raspberry plants and the opportunity for special picking privileges. We will be emailing the date and time of our community raspberry weeding events so let us know now if you are interested in helping.  This will help us decide whether or not to open the berries up to general public picking this upcoming June.

Mulberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, asian pears, and apples are really looking healthy and beautiful. Compared to last year, we were very lucky and missed the last two frost periods with a low of 34 degrees each night.  Close but whew!  Fruit blossoms missed damage. Abundance in 2008!

Karen taught a weekend berry class at John C Campell Folk School and made new friends.  In researching unusual fruit, she had discovered the Ribes family, ie gooseberries and currants. Unfortunately they are illegal to grow in North Carolina.  We are planting several varieties of Ribes in Young Harris Georgia where they are legal and will be very happy.  Currants have more vitamin C than citrus and more antioxidants than blueberries.  Their illegality appears based on outdated almost 100 year law and old science that is still afraid of the Ribes family being a dangerous threat to white pine forests.  Given the current catastrophe with hemlock wooly adlegids, I understand the nervous tension about imported bugs and disease on plants by the Foresters and Timber business. After careful study, the Federal Government released the ban in the 1966 but around 17 states still make gooseberries and currants illegal to grow.  The varieties I chose were specially developed and bred so they are not a secondary host to the fungus Cronartium ribicola.  Europeans are crazy for currants and gooseberries.  This U.S. Timber industry vs. Agriculture industry debate will be an interesting story to investigate further when we are not so busy. This winter I will look more deeply into the story.  I invite any discussion/advice on the experience of growing/loving/hating the Ribes family.

 Hope everyone in North Carolina voted today.  We did.

Enjoy Spring, 

Karen and John 

Posted 3/9/2008 2:34pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

March is here with its late snows and cold. Though we haven't seen any new raspberry growth yet, there is certainly some stirring below ground. Soon the new primocanes will be appearing and we will hope for better rains and some good growth and production this year. We have been working on weeding and mulching over the winter and have begun installing irrigation.

The new website template we are using (from www.smallfarmcentral.com ) enables us to quickly post picking updates and news so we'll have more up to date information on our berries. 

We have been to both the Georgia Organics conference and the Organic Growers School and have some new learning and inspiration. We are so impressed by the dedication and talent of the other small scale agriculture workers in our region.