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 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/

Posted 11/24/2013 7:11pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We are now harvesting a new crop which we have been growing all season in our high tunnel hoophouse...Organic Fresh Turmeric. We are currently taking orders! Please email us at jkqualla@frontier.com if you would like to try some.

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. My friend and I already experimented with freshly grated turmeric in the cooked yolks for extra healthy deviled eggs. She says remember to always add Black Pepper with Turmeric because something about the pepper makes the healthy qualities of turmeric work the best. We added grated turmeric to mashed potatoes the other night and it gave them a warm spicy flavor that does not bite (serving suggestion for your Thanksgiving dinner!). If you know something wonderful about turmeric and have experience and recipes, please let us know.  If you would like to be included on our special turmeric mailing list within our bigger list please let us know and we will be sending out recipes and information links and also posting them on our website.

We have the fresh rhizomes for sale and they are priced at $15.00/lb. Please email jkqualla@frontier.com (preferred) or call 828-389-3551 and leave a message if you would like to place an order and we will arrange for pickup. Minimum order is ¼ lb which is $4.00; ½ lb is $7.50 and 1 lb is $15.00.

We started the turmeric seed rhizomes indoors way back in March and they have been growing all season in the east half of our 30’ x 72’ hoophouse. Harvesting our first fresh turmeric on November 9 brought smiles of joy.  The rhizomes have a beautiful orange color which pops out of the dirt as they are washed. We are brand new to this crop and are learning about growing, harvesting, and storage, with a great deal of help from Susan Anderson of East Branch Ginger in Raleigh, who got us the seed turmeric this last February.  The turmeric knew itself and grew itself and those rhizomes we dug out of the ground are fragrant, lovely golden yellow, and enjoyable to munch. We are grateful for surprises in the world that work out well when we try something so new and unfamiliar.  Small Blessings from a new plant that feels like a new friend we did not know was watching out for us, bringing renewed enthusiasm and happiness to our farm.

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.  The organic spray schedule of Pyganic and Spinosad just did not work for us,  our pocketbook, and our pollinators. We did receive a ray of hope at the recent Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference in Durham when an entomologist friend suggested we try Hb and Sf beneficial nematodes which prey on the overwintering adult fruit flies in the soil. We have just applied these and will be watching for the results. We will also be doing more intensive trapping in our scaled-back rows in 2014.

About our hoophouse and our tomatoes: We had great organic hoophouse heirloom tomatoes in a rainy season.  We canned, roasted, and sold tomatoes and thank our friends Frances and Steve Juhlin of Candy Mtn Farm for helping us distribute the end of our tomato harvest at the Murphy Cedar Hill Farmers Market.  We have been enjoying their amazing CSA vegetable boxes this fall. Favorite new tomato for us was Georgia Streak and the Chocolate cherry tomato.

Flocks of robins have been migrating through the farm and winter is arriving with the prospect of rest and time to count our many blessings. Growing onward with plant allies and our many wonderful friends of agriculture...

Posted 6/22/2013 1:18pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Spotted Winged Drosophila

Posted 4/20/2013 4:16am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Its a busy time in April. Seed starting, transplanting, and soil prepping for season. John is putting solar louvers in hoophouse to help with heat release. Francis told me Cedar Valley farmers mkt is full tilt open in Murphy.

Celebrate Earth day all week and support your local pollinators by creating habitat by planting native trees and shrubs. Donna McAuliffe is donating 10% of BodySense store profits Saturday, April 20th to our Three Sisters Apalavhe Agriculture. We are going to do a special community event showcasing Pollinators,local food,and farms.

The winter food class was a complete success. Grinding and cooking corn for polenta, using local winter squash for soup, roasting rutabagas, stuffing porkl with dried fruit, steaming winter greens...it was a fun morning and delicious lunch shared together. We hope to do offer a class each season but time flies and we'll aee what we organize. 

on our farm we  just finished inoculationg over 300 shiitake logs, now carefully stacked in the shade. Thank you helpers who dropped by to assist...Linda, Tom, Annie Fain, Olivia, Robert, David, Susanna, Julie, and Brenda. We will wait 6-9 months and see what mushrooms appear.  Tulips are gorgeous but were too short stemmed at correct cutting time for good bouquets this year. We cut some tulips for the fun to give the folk school one Saturday for short vases. They are gorgeous to look at and I love their bold color and stately form. I found out tulips are one of the more  challenging cut flowers to grow commercially. Originally they came from Turkey. Like the tulip nd the honeybee, many fruits, flowers, vegetables and grains did not originate here but have been imported and cultivated by humans over centuries. Discernment is important here becausecwe also imported chestnut blight and thevrecent Drosophila suzuki fruit fly in our raspberries.  I have begun to change my view anout insects overall, seeking to creatie healthyhabitat for beetles, native bees, butterflies, and even species of flies and wasps I never knew were helpers. I allow more space for the wild side of life, messy edges, watch our mowing schedule. Joined the Xerces Society and The Pollinator Project. Ongoing study and amazement of web of life...

Join us and inform yourself and get outside with friends and family to catch the waves of spring ephemeral wildflowers. The forest and garden is bursting with roots, shoots, leaves, and flowers. Loveliness exists amidst a world of human sorrow. Celebrate and cultivate the Good in us, in the home of our Earth. I will be teaching a class in gardening with pollinators this week at the Folk School. Hope to see you in fields and forests and on the farm.

Spring Forward.

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.

Posted 10/9/2012 9:03pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Once again this year we are dealing with the same pest which destroyed most of our fall crop last year, the Spotted Wing Drosophila.

The fruit flies have again created a major loss of our raspberry crop and we have been unable to offer U-Pick this fall 2012. We are using apple cider vinegar traps to monitor the level of infestation and we are finding damage in nearly all of the ripe berries. We have used some organic insecticidal sprays with very limited success. We are still trying to learn if there is an effective way to control the fruit flies but so far we have not had much luck.

We wish we had better news to report but unfortunately this is the reality of life in the age of SWD. It is a game changer for all fruit growers.

Thanks to all of you for your support over the years. Our U-Pick started in 2001 and it has been a pleasure to make the acquaintance of so many nice folks who love raspberries as we do. Let's hope for a miracle!

Thanks, John & Karen
Posted 7/23/2012 9:16pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Dear Berry Lovers:

Its hot! Our garden looks great although most of you know, we are having an unusual year here at Qualla Berry Farm. The arrival of Spotted Wing Drosophila in our fall raspberry crop was a game changer for us. Fruit growers in affected areas all over North America are figuring out new strategies.  Since we completely lost our fall crop to the fruit flies in 2011 our commitment has been to learn about these new pests from Japan. (See http://ncsmallfruitsipm.blogspot.com/p/spotted-wing-drosophila.html for a very good set of reference information on Drosophila suzukii put together by Dr Hannah Burrack of NC State). We are grateful for all the researchers and folks willing to share information and will continue to experiment in this new environment.

We decided to follow a strategy being used by other growers and grow out our primocanes this year so they come in during hot weather when the fruit flies are dormant. Over the winter we cut our canes to the ground, which eliminated our usual crop of overwintered floricanes but is producing a strong growth of first year growth which is just starting to bloom here in late July (see photos in the gallery on our website, http://www.quallaberryfarm.com/gallery).

We are in new territory with this plan. We know that our canes are in really good shape, having been thoroughly weeded and mulched this spring, and that the irrigation we installed last year will get the berries through any upcoming dry weather. Rains of the past two weeks greened up everything. We will set vinegar traps to check for the presence of the fruit flies and will closely monitor the ripening berries to see if they have SWD larvae inside.

Hopefully it will stay hot while the raspberries ripen and we can get folks in for some picking while the fruit flies sleep! We remain committed to using organic methods and will not spray with malathion or other hazardous chemicals. Even the organically approved sprays like Pyganic and Spinosad are potentially harmful to bees, as well as expensive, so we are going to try using cultural strategy instead of spraying to outwit the little buggers.

Thanks to all of you who have been checking with us and offering support. We will let you know if and when we'll be open for picking, possibly in late August.  Late spring frost killed our mulberry, sour cherry, and blueberry blooms so its been a lean fruit year thus far. Here's hoping for red raspberries!


John Clarke and Karen Hurtubise

Posted 7/21/2012 8:59pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Raspberry plants are looking strong and the rain has helped everything.  We are back from the Oregon Country Fair where we help run a food booth featuring tempeh burgers, vegan philly cheese and tofricken sandwiches, corn dogs, vegan donuts, coffee, and herb tea.  Its called The Vegan Truckstop has been something we have done since 1987 with our friends.  Our hope is for August raspberries to ripen and outmanuever the Drosophila suzuki fruit fly which does not like the heat.  Unfortunately, our raspberries arent so keen on heat either so this is an experiment.  They are blooming nicely. Thank you to everyone who keeps asking about the berries but we dont have any right now. 

We had zero mulberries, sour cherries, and very few blueberries due to the late frost.