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 11/2/2014 7:16pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

The Halloween prediction of snow and cold made us a little crazy but the snow was beautiful and somewhat insulating so it wasn't as cold Friday night compared to Saturday night's brrr 23 degrees. John had buttoned down the hoophouse on Thursday with insulation boards and we draped all the plants with white polyester spun row cover. The hoophouse stayed above freezing with only minor frost damage to some tips of the ginger and turmeric plants poking out of the row cover blankets. We did add a heater for this cold spell. This time of year is tricky for tender tropical perennials especially ginger. The critical thing we have to watch is soil temperature and it's still warm enough for the ginger and the turmeric to stay in the ground. When it gets down to 55 for ginger and 50 for turmeric, they have to come out!

Posted 10/29/2014 10:10am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Autumn is beautiful and the fall leaf color is peaking. Hard frost is coming this weekend so we are preparing for freeze.  We continue to harvest, clean, and deliver bags of fresh baby ginger. This is a perishable crop and stores on the counter in paperbag for two to three weeks. Do not neglect or procrastinate using your ginger. It's Baby ginger, pink&white and tender unlike mature ginger with a gray brown skin. This requires your attention. Make tea, use in soups, main dishes, desserts(use fresh in gingerbread for the holidays), pickle it, grate, slice, chop, and freeze it whole. One friend stores sliced ginger in wine and I will be experimenting with ginger and turmeric tinctures.  We are particularly enjoying grating the baby ginger for tea with a dissolved splash of our sourwood honey and a slice of lemon. I pour and refrigerate what we steeped and didn't drink into a mason jar, add water and drink all day. Very refreshing.

Let us know how you use and store your ginger, your successes, what works and what doesn't work. We are all learning together with fresh NC grown baby ginger. And thank you thank you thank you for being risk takers and supporters. Your purchases make this venture possible and we are grateful to all our customers willing to give our baby ginger crop a try. We love everything about this plant. Turmeric is also growing along nicely and will be next to harvest. Get your creativity, healthy fall cooking and preservation mojo on.

May falling leaves of color evoke the wonder of letting go and fresh ginger tea comfort your tummy,

Karen and John

Posted 10/21/2014 9:48pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Karen with newly harvested Baby Ginger


Dear Friends,

At Qualla Berry Farm we are all about discovery. We find (or bump into) great crops to grow and then share them with you. It has been a great joy for us to grow organic red raspberries, heirloom tomatoes, and turmeric and to participate in producing food locally in the North Carolina mountains since 1982, as gardeners and small scale growers.

So it is with great pleasure that we announce that our first crop of Organically Grown Fresh Baby Ginger is ready for harvest in this 2014 season. Baby Ginger is the ginger rhizome that is still tender and hasn’t formed the tough fibrous skin of mature ginger like that you find in the store. Baby Ginger can be sliced or grated like a radish or a carrot and can be made into refreshing ginger tea, pickled, candied, or added to any number of recipes from soups and stir fry to ginger snaps. Baby Ginger is white and pink in color and freezes well. We have read and heard about many health benefits, particularly for the digestive tract.

We are underway with our Baby Ginger harvest and will take your orders until the supply runs out—-quantities are limited. Please email us at jkqualla@frontier.com with the quantity you would like and the best way to contact you and we will arrange for pickup. The Ginger is priced at $15.00 per pound for quantities of 1 lb or more and $ 1.25 per ounce for quantities under 1 lb.

We can also tell you that the Organic Turmeric plants look good and we expect to be harvesting those rhizomes beginning in mid to late November.

Join our explorations of Ginger and Turmeric this growing season. Experiment and share your discoveries, favorite recipes, and useful information which may help someone else. Ginger and Turmeric, which are in the same botanical family (Zingiberaceae), are plants that are valued worldwide for flavor and for health benefits. We are fortunate to be able to grow these tropical plants in our temperate climate using our season- extending hoop house.

And check out Karen’s Pinterest board called “Turmeric Tales” which has beautiful pictures and links to great information: http://www.pinterest.com/claysmallfarms/turmeric-tales/

Please note: If you are receiving this email it is because you are on our turmeric list from last year, or you wrote us to ask that you be included on our ginger/turmeric list, or you made an inquiry. You may unsubscribe at any time. If you have friends who would like to be on our ginger/turmeric list please have them send us an email.

One more note: Our NRCS agent and friend Glenn Carson, who helped us get and build the hoop house where we grow these crops, died tragically this year in a car accident. We miss his generous and friendly spirit and we appreciate all the help he gave us. We are also very grateful to Susan Anderson of East Branch Ginger in Pittsboro, NC, who has been our primary mentor and source of encouragement throughout this project.

Thanks to everyone! We look forward to hearing from you!

Karen Hurtubise and John Clarke

Qualla Berry Farm, 3274 Qualla Rd, Hayesville, NC 28904




Posted 7/23/2014 10:12pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We are back home after attending the Oregon Country Fair outside of Eugene. Its our annual pilgrimage to head west and work at The Vegan Truckstop food booth with our friends. Kept busy making the 18-wheeler tempeh burgers and frosted vegan donuts. We sold out of everything this year and had lots of fun. Visited the Columbia River Gorge and fresh cherries were coming in, plus had our regular huckleberry smoothie in Trout Lake, Washington...best ever. Trekked to the Oregon Coast for agate hunting and our friends went crabbing and salmon fishing. Yum!

Back home and weeding, weeding weeding. Hoophouses are looking good and our tomatoes are ripening nicely.  Ate our first mess of caseknife pole beans tonight.

I am busily preparing for my upcoming class on Pollinators and Gardening at the John C Campbell Folk School the first weekend in August. My friend Lauri Lawson from Niche Gardens is likely to come from Eastern North Carolina to help teach about using native plants in the landscape. This will be a wonderful class about growing milkweed and  planting pollinator friendly gardens and landscapes for bees, butterflies, bats, and birds.

Posted 5/23/2014 10:23pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Dear Friends, 

We will be at the Cedar Valley Farmer's Market at the L&N Depot in Murphy, NC tomorrow! We hope you will drop by and support your local farmers.

Please help us find good homes for the fabulous tomato plants we have grown. Consider planting a new variety of 'love apple' tomato this Memorial Day weekend.  We will have the following products from our farm for sale:

Tomato Plants: 22 varieties of peak, ready to transplant delicious heirlooms and scrumptious fun hybrids of many kinds including slicing, paste, and cherry tomatoes

Potted starts of our red raspberries. Become part of Team Grow your Own Labor of Love Raspberries.

Turmeric Sprouts: starts of turmeric from our 2013 crowns

NEW! Shiitake Mushrooms from the oak logs we inoculated last spring. Fresh picked, big and beautiful!

Please forward this email to anyone you think may be interested in a two dollar tomato adventure. Expand the tomato growing horizon.  Each plant sale will help us tremendously to carry on.   We have wonderful tomato varieties grown from seed with care...personalities called Wapsipinicon, Thai Pink, Rutgers, Eva Purple Ball, Polish Linguisa, Big Rainbow, Sungold cherry, Cherokee Purple, Yellow Brandywine, and many more.

This Sunday, May 25th from 12pm to 5pm, we will also be holding an Open house at the Qualla Berry Farm.  If you did not get to the Farmers Market, we will have even more tomato plant varieties plus shiitake mushrooms, and any remaining raspberry and turmeric plants for sale.  You are welcome to come see our hoop house which is planted with the 2014 crop of turmeric and ginger.

We hope you have a wonderful Memorial weekend.  We say a special blessing in honor of John's Dad, who fought in the Korean War. We will be flying his Memorial Flag given to Mom Clarke after Dad died in 2010. Jack, John Mel Clarke, was born 84 years ago on May 29th, 1930. We salute Dad, all our veterans, and their families. May we all find Peace, grow good gardens, share food, friendship, work and play with lots of love.

With Gratitude,

Karen and John

Posted 5/16/2014 9:28pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

2014 Season Update:

We will be participating in the TriState Businesswomen's Expo at the Farmers Market in Blairsville, GA (next door to Home Depot) on Saturday May 17 from 8:30 til 3. Come see us at booth 59!

As of mid-May we have planted out the sprouted starts of both Turmeric and Ginger in our hoop house. We expect to have fresh baby ginger to sell by October and fresh turmeric by November. If you would like notifications when the turmeric and ginger are available, please email us at jkqualla@frontier.com and ask that we put your email on the turmeric/ginger list.

Turmeric is a tropical plant related to ginger with a delightful flavor and aroma and a number of healthful medicinal properties according to many sources.  It provides the yellow color in mustard and is used in curries, pickles, and many other foods. It can be made into a tea and used fresh in salads and juice drinks. We grew turmeric for the first time in 2013 and it was a successful crop. We sold it as fresh rhizomes which can be used fresh or frozen for later use.

This will be our first season to grow ginger. It also has many healthful effects and medicinal uses as well as being flavorful and useful in all kinds of cooking. The fresh baby ginger does not have the tough skin or fibrous nature of the cured ginger you get in the supermarket.


About our raspberries: The Drosophila suzukii fruit fly pest continues to infest our remaining raspberries and we are unable to offer U-pick. We still have some experimental rows and are watching the progress of research to see if a solution will be found that is workable on our farm. We will also be doing more intensive trapping in our scaled-back rows in 2014.

Posted 3/29/2014 8:04am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

John , Nanette, and I went to Jekyll Island Georgia Organics Conference in February 2014. We loved being there, winderful event. I was happy to meet Elaine Ingham, innovator, pioneering researcher, and  soil scientist whose information changed my mind several years ago about how I think of soil, life on eath, and agriculture. 

I took a Social Media for Farmers class. We both turn 57 this year, born in 1957. We are out of our technological league with twitter, instagram, blogging, facebook, linked in, pinterest, etc. Actually, I love pinterst best of all. John and I are mostly stumbling around, falling down with social media. We really do not know what we are doing. Plus we prefer being outside. However, its rainy today and after starting seeds and morning tea and coffee, we will attempt updates. Currently we have nothing for sale, all our turmeric and ginger is sold and the rest is for Fall harvest 2014.

Tulips are feeding voles and tomato seedlings do not have their true leaves yet. I am grateful for grocery stores at this time of year. Truly its amazing to have such food choice available all year long. Someday I hope we have a food chain that is in sync with loving earth and ourselves.

We apologize for old posts, pictures, stale news, bad links, and poor return on emails. We seek to do better!

Posted 3/29/2014 7:47am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Solitary red tulip bloomed this week. Voles in hoophouse are creating havoc and green tulip leaves and stems with buds fall overnight. Our dogs used to hunt them, but now retired themselves from vole patrol. We seek new strategies that work.

Tomatoes are under grow lights and more will be sown this weekend. For my class at the Folk School I will have 25 varieties, plus marigolds, and basils of all kinds.

Turmeric and Ginger is warm and happy in flats of coir(shredded coconut husks) in our garage office.

Life is good.  We hiked last weekend in South Carolina to see the rare blooming wildflower Oconee Bells. Good medicine to walk in beauty of the woods.

Oconee Bells March 2014 Devils Fork Recreation Area

Posted 2/9/2014 9:25am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Yesterday John spread fall load of rotted sorghum in the hoophouse. I just placed an order for our lost but now found favorite pole bean, the white seeded caseknife pole bean. Lots of seed starting today and will finish garden teaching schedule. This May I am teaching Grow Your Best Tomato class at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Posted 12/12/2013 7:03am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

TURMERIC: Links to Information and Recipes

At Qualla Berry Farm, 2013 was our first season growing Organic Turmeric in our hoophouse. We have been a learning a lot about how to use this amazing rhizome as food and medicine. Below is a sampling of website links for information about turmeric.

Our fresh Turmeric will be available during December 2013. To place an order, contact us by email at jkqualla@frontier.com or by phone at 828-389-3551. More information and photos can be found on our website, www.quallaberryfarm.com . Our blog accepts comments so you can share your experience with using turmeric with others. Use your imagination! Karen’s Mom has been eating a bit of fresh turmeric every day and has noticed an improvement in the arthritis in her thumbs. Another friend had some digestive upset. We are all unique. Pay attention and experiment gently!

(Black pepper is an important friend of turmeric to activate health benefits)

Why turmeric AND black pepper? | Monamifood: http://monamifood.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/why-turmeric-and-black-pepper/


Methow Valley Herbs: Turmeric: "A medicine cabinet in a curry bowl." (includes a nice botanical illustration): http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2012/01/turmeric-medicine-cabinet-in-curry-bowl.html


Fresh Turmeric Glossary | Recipes with Fresh Turmeric |Tarladalal.com: http://www.tarladalal.com/glossary-fresh-turmeric-643i


How Restaurant Chefs Are Using Turmeric Across the U.S. - Bon Appétit: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/cooking-with-turmeric-healthy


Three Reasons to Eat Turmeric - Dr. Weil: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03001/Three-Reasons-to-Eat-Turmeric.html


Turmeric Cooler - The Juice That Can Save You From Buying Advil | Food Babe: http://foodbabe.com/2013/01/29/turmeric-cooler-an-anti-inflammatory-juice/


Raw Recipes: Fresh Turmeric Juice | The Body Enlightenment Blog: http://www.bodyenlightenment.me/blog/2010/07/raw-recipes-fresh-turmeric-juice/


Dosage and Method: Turmeric | Food and Natural Health - The Epicurean Digest: http://epicureandigest.com/dosage-and-method-turmeric/


22 surprising uses for turmeric | MNN - Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/22-surprising-uses-for-turmeric


Turmeric Tea Recipe - 101 Cookbooks: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/turmeric-tea-recipe.html


Fresh Turmeric Root Recipes | Yummly: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/fresh-turmeric-root


And, probably the most visually beautiful link on this page, the Blog Turmeric & Saffron. Lots of recipes from Persian and other cuisines, and an incredible set of images on their Pinterest pages: http://turmericsaffron.blogspot.com/