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 1/22/2012 1:35pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Wet, grey, warm weather. Today we began cutting the raspberry canes down to promote only one crop in June this year to attempt to outwit the new fruit fly pest that arrived last fall.  Hot weather and wetness is less to their liking from what we have learned from some organic berry growers in Oregon.  We are beginning our research and welcome any experience or information you find on successful strategies to outmanuever the Drosophila suzuki fruit fly in our berrry crops.

Two weeks ago we heard the first woodcock bzzzing then the whirrring whisper of bird wings as the male  does his diving mating dance.  We thought they had disappeared from our farm because we missed hearing them for the first time ever last year.  Miracles...the simple familiar bird sounds returning, yellow winter aconite first blooms low and bright amidst drooping blooms of cream, green, and purple shades of winter hellebore.  Multitudes of green daffoldil blades have popped up 1 to 6 inches tall.  We see the pink purple buds fattening on the plum tree.  Seems early.  More cold to come.

Hope weather is good for the Local Food lunch and learn this upcoming February 4th in Brasstown.

Posted 1/21/2012 3:07pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

You are invited to a “Local Food Lunch and Learn”
Topics include Community Supported Agriculture and Value Added Products

Saturday, Feb 4, 2012 from 10AM to 2 PM
At Brasstown Community Civic Center, 255 Settawig Rd, Brasstown, NC 28902
Workshop features guest speakers from Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Asheville
And a winter menu luncheon featuring locally sourced ingredients
Registration fee of $10.00 includes lunch

For more information contact: Karen Hurtubise, Qualla Berry Farm 828-389-3551,
Frances Juhlin, Candy Mountain Farm 828-494-2083,
or Pattie Reynolds, Firefly Farm and Wine Garden 828-494-5608
Updates and details posted at www.quallaberryfarm.com

Join us in a wonderful community wintertime opportunity to visit, eat some good food, and discuss ways to promote and encourage our local small farms and food producers. Enjoy winter soup, fresh greens salad, freshly made vinaigrettes, homemade bread, and dessert with friends and neighbors and get ideas and information on how to build and support our local food network with community supported agriculture and value added farm products.
Martha Vining, Product Developer, and Chris Reedy, Program Manager, of Blue Ridge Food Ventures from Asheville will be the keynote speakers. Blue Ridge Food Ventures, winner of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Business of the Year Award, is a unique business incubator for area farmers, chefs, artisan food entrepreneurs, caterers, bakers, and natural product manufacturers located in nearby Asheville, NC. To discover more about Blue Ridge Food Ventures, visit their website at:  www.blueridgefoodventures.org.

We welcome small farmers, gardeners, value-added producers, and people who support healthy food, farms, and community. If you have a garden, farm, agricultural or food related business or group, bring a display or literature to share information at one of our tables.

Please pre-register so we can plan for enough food and chairs.

Sponsored by Three Sisters Apalache Agriculture with generous help from the Clay County Small Farm Initiative, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, and community volunteers.

Make checks payable to “TSAA” or Three Sisters Apalache Agriculture,
Mail your payment c/o Frances Juhlin, 135 Candy Mountain Heights, Murphy, NC 28906
Name________________________________________ Phone_________________________

Total Number of Local Food Lunch and Learn tickets:_______ Cost: $10.00 per ticket
Would you like to be notified of future events related to local food and sustainable agriculture in our area? Y___N___

Posted 10/1/2011 8:04pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Fruit fly fiasco. Our berries have gone to mush as this new fruit fly pest lays eggs like crazy in each berry druplet.  The eggs hatch into tiny maggots which eat the fruit.  It's gross but there you have it.  We caught lots of them in 60 vinegar traps John set out which just shows us how efficient they are at invading our raspberries.  Still shocked.  This will take time to work out a new strategy.  Will keep you posted.


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