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 9/10/2011 8:57am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Friends-

Normally at this time of year we would be announcing the beginning of the Fall U-Pick season. However, this year our fall season is in serious jeopardy due to a new pest problem.

We have found the Spotted Wing Drosophila in our raspberries and we are going to have to take some drastic measures to deal with it. This is an Asian fruit fly (Drosophila suzukii) that appeared on the west coast within the last two years and has been spreading through the Carolinas, including a very rapid spread across North Carolina this year. This is the first time we have seen them.

The fruit fly attacks ripening berries and lays eggs inside them, leaving a scar and damaged fruit. It goes after raspberries and blackberries, cherries, strawberries, and blueberries.

We have been searching for information on the internet and have been getting advice from NC Agricultural Extension. They suggest getting rid of the currently ripe fruit and freezing or baking it to kill the larvae. They also suggest very aggressive spraying programs to kill the adults. However, as an organic operation we are not going to use organophosphates like malathion or diazinon and as beekeepers we are reluctant to use organically approved insecticides like spinosad or pyganic which can be harmful to honeybees and native bees. Our current plan is to dispose of the damaged fruit and use traps baited with apple cider vinegar to reduce the numbers of adult fruit flies.

Because of all this we are postpononing our fall U-Pick season until we can get a handle on the fruit flies. It is doubly sad because we had just installed drip irrigation this sumer and the berries are all mulched and weeded and ready. It was looking like a good harvest in spite of the heat and drought. The rain last week was bringing on a flush of ripe berries. We will keep y'all posted and will let you know if we can harvest again later in the fall.

Thanks for your support.  Wish us a miracle!

Karen Hurtubise
John Clarke
Qualla Berry Farm
Posted 9/8/2011 9:23pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

After this wonderful rain and cool weather I fully expected to go out and see the canes and fruit reviving for the fall crop.  As I wandered down the rows picking fruit for dessert, I had a sinking feeling.  We had been warned about this possible pest, a vinegar fruit fly from Asia new to the USA.  I noticed fruit flies around the fruit and lots of damage on the fruit that was unusual for this time of year.  We collected some of the little buggers and put them under the microscope.  It definitely appears we have this fruit fly from what we compare to the web page pictures.  I will send this off to our state entomologist for confirmation and begin setting traps.  This pest also affects other berries and the alarm has already been sounded in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Now we must figure out this new dilemma.  If the berries keep looking this bad, I suspect there will be no fall upick this year.  The plants were stressed from the heat and drought but this should be their time to resurrect and produce loads of fruit.

Oh the irony that this pest is a vinegar fruit fly.  We will keep you posted.

Posted 9/2/2011 8:16pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We need a long soaking rain and some cool weather to get some decent berry ripening.  The plants are challenged by heat and drought.  There are raspberry flowers and some fruit but not enough to open for upick. 

We have been tweaking our new irrigation but since its been so very dry, our spring cannot keep up.  Heard rumors of rain for next week.  Its a strange reality that the NC coast and entire East Coast experienced Hurricane Irene's torrential rain and we remain bone dry at our farm in the mountains.  We did get a couple of brief minutes of wetness but not enough to claim as rain.We will keep you posted. 

Meanwhile, I have busy as the bees with my job as Clay County Small Farm Initiative Community Facilitator.  I will start putting calendar events and interesting things I find out on the website.  Coming up, there is an opportunity for people interested in the business of successful farming, local food production, and agricultural related ventures starting on Thursdays, starting September 29th for eight consecutive weeks.  Offered by Mountain Bizworks, this AgBiz foundations class will bring together a group of individuals to work on business plans, marketing, and networking.  The class will take place in Hayesville at the John Corn Building(next to the Black and Gold Rec bldg) from 6pm to 9pm Thursday til Thanksgiving.  Normally this class is 350 dollars but they have a special grant to offer this eight week course for 95 dollars.  John and I are signed up and hope to reconfigure some new farm dreams with other like minded people.  Please call me for more information at 828-342-4042, the Small Farm Initiative cell phone and let other people know.

Posted 6/30/2011 6:33am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

QUALLA BERRY FARM IS STILL OPEN FOR SELF SERVICE U-PICK through Saturday July 1, 2011. The June crop is winding down but there are still good raspberries on the canes. The canopy is set up with scale and berry baskets and flat boxes. Raspberry plants are available too. Please come after 9AM so berries aren't wet with dew. Please drive and turn around carefully as our little black dog is blind.

The new growth looks strong and we should have the second crop of berries coming in mid-September.

Thanks to all our pickers! Self Service works great for us and we hope it's more convenient for you.
Posted 6/17/2011 11:45am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Berry Lovers:
QUALLA BERRY FARM IS STILL OPEN FOR SELF SERVICE U-PICK through the weekend of June 17-19, 2011. Raspberries are ripening and we have a good crop hitting its peak. We will keep you posted on the status of the berries next week. The canopy is set up with scale and berry baskets and flat boxes. Raspberry plants are available too. Please come after 9AM so berries aren't wet with dew. Please drive and turn around carefully as our little black dog is blind.
John & Karen
Posted 6/11/2011 12:38pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
QUALLA BERRY FARM IS OPEN FOR SELF SERVICE U-PICK this week starting June 11, 2011. Raspberries are ripening and we have a good crop coming on. The canopy is set up with scale and berry baskets and flat boxes. Raspberry plants are available too. Checks are welcome and change will be in the canopy. Our Organic Red Raspberries are still priced at $4.25/lb. Please come after 9AM so berries aren't wet with dew.
John Clarke and Karen Hurtubise
Qualla Berry Farm
Hayesville, NC 28904
Posted 5/29/2011 7:11pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Friends--
Qualla Berry Farm will hold a SPECIAL RASPBERRY PLANT SALE MONDAY MAY 30! We have potted vigorous starts of our great organic red raspberries priced at $7 to $15 per pot. Open 9AM till 3 PM, rain or shine. Come see us!
Karen and John
Posted 5/13/2011 8:20pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Raspberry Fans,
RASPBERRY PLANT SALE CONTINUES SATURDAY MAY 14! We have potted vigorous starts of our great organic red raspberries priced at $7 (small pots, single starts) to $12 (large pots, minimum 2 starts) to $15 (large pots, multiple starts) per pot. Open 9AM till noon, rain or shine. Come see us!
John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise
Qualla Berry Farm
3274 Qualla Rd
Hayesville, NC 28904
Posted 5/6/2011 7:46am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We sent out an email to our list of people.  John and I have both been going full speed and there is always a longer list of things to do than hours in the day.  I have chosen lately to work dedicating myself to thinking of joy and peace in honor of all the people around the world doing their best on the difficult front line of catastrophe and healing.

We had our rough decade and its over now.  We are both healthy and strong.  Yet I remember what it is like to be weak, frightened, unsure, and weepy and aware of how quickly one's life can change.  I hope to remember compassion and provide help when others hit that wall of despair and fear.  Pain and suffering can be a lonely place.  Loving kindness and community brought comfort and courage for us to trundle on until we could recover ourselves.  I am so grateful for the help we received.

All proceeds from our 2011 raspberry plant sale are specifically going to finish paying off the final debt to our local hospital for my uninsured emergency appendectomy in 2006.  We are in the home stretch of paying off our Murphy Medical hospital bill.  Our original idea of doing the u-pick raspberry farm was to work in our spare time and create additional income for health insurance/medical savings accounts from farming.  This dream did not materialize and after much thought we are shifting gears.

We encourage you to grow your own luscious raspberries because some crops are very labor intensive yet well worth the effort for a home or community garden.   And this year your berry plant purchase will be helping us clear the residue of our old personal catastrophe and will help us give our hospital their income for service well delivered long ago.  We look forward to this berry season and hope you will consider buying some raspberry plants from us and starting your own patch this year.  We will be here on May 7th from 9am to noon for the plant sale. We will help you enjoy growing your own red raspberries and will give short tours of what and how we grow fruit around our place for those who are interested.

Thank you all so much for supporting our small farm efforts!  We are reinventing ourselves and researching raspberry vinegar for the future.  Berries are looking so healthy and happy this spring. Strawberries are coming in and we are eating fresh ones every day along with asparagus.  Irises are still blooming and roses just coming into full color.  Its a lovely wonderful spring.

Posted 4/27/2011 5:19am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Raspberries are mulched and blooming and loving these rains and spring weather. Best dogwood blooms in my memory of thirty years. Strawberries are green fruited with more white blooms coming on, elderberries are blooming lovely white umbels, and our mulberry tree is flowering.  We have potted up red raspberry plants for sale and they are ready to plant.  Get your raspberry planting beds prepared and let us know if you would like to buy plants.  They vary in price from 7 dollars to 15 dollars depending on the size.  We started with fifteen plants from a local man in Hiawassee, so if raspberries like your site, you only need three to fifteen plants to start a good patch.  Growing your own raspberries will be very pleasurable and rewarding if you have a good location and prepare your soil thoughtfully.  I really like Nourse Farm and their Planting and Success Guide is free and full of good planting information (www.noursefarms.com).  We substitute compost and mulch for their 10-10-10 fertilizer recommendations and get great results. Nourse Farms has an enormous diversity of bareroot berries and fruit offerings.  The strawberry plants we bought from them were great.

My raspberry vinegar and kombucha ferments are on the porch and I have a lot to figure out in researching and developing a decent value added product.  We are enjoying our old crop of frozen berries and making raspberry smoothies this morning for breakfast and will be eating ripe strawberries anyday now.  We have already had our first harvest of fresh asparagus.