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 5/13/2011 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.

Posted 3/26/2011 10:01pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We have been busy mulching raspberry beds and the daffodils are peaking with tulip blooms adding their amazing signature of spring.   This is the best prepared we have ever been in March and we are figuring out how to best freeze berries for our research and development value added product phase of Qualla Berry farm.  We welcome ideas for vinegar and raspberry sauce.  It is pouring rain tonight.

Posted 3/14/2011 9:50pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Just got back from Savannah and the Georgia Organics Conference and feel like I just timeshifted myself with spring. Camellias were finishing blooming and tulips were at peak.  I attended the conference with my 82 year old native Georgian friend and we toured her grandson's farm at Bethesda Boys School.  The following day she learned about worm farms and Savannah cooking history and I listened to the latest info on pest management, weed management, hoophouse management, and cover crops.  Whew.  Today was sposed to rain but I was able to work outside and begin transplanting overwintered plants, start tomato seed, and finish my final seed order. 

On our way home to the mountains from the coast, we picked up her friend in Macon yesterday and drove to Devils Fork South Carolina to peek at the blooming Oconee Bells, a rare wildflower and one of my favorites.  We were so happy to see their white fringed bells and waxy green leaves before the sun went down.

Blessings for Japan filled my heart.

Posted 2/23/2011 2:48pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

We made a decision to close the red raspberry upick for this year of 2011.  We will be selling our red raspberry plants and offering classes in how to grow your own berries.   We have been faithful to being open and offering red raspberries for people.  We have found growing berries a labor of love and appreciate the many friends who have supported our berry farm over the years.  It is hard to believe we did not find a way to make money on raspberries but we gave the upick our best effort and chose another strategy for the farm this year.  I took a class on wild fermentation and will be experimenting with raspberry vinegars and see where that leads us.  We have been pruning and potting up berry plants this past week and added two new rows with an old row we renovated.  This March John is headed to the Growers School and I am attending Georgia Organics Conference in Savannah.  We both learned a lot about the business of farming at the SSAWG conference and continue to believe in organic sustainable agriculture as good for our community and for the earth.  Figuring out a financially sustainable farming niche is a work in progress.  We continue to perservere in our support of both farming and wild plants and places where nature and people live in balance.

Posted 1/17/2011 9:22pm by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Yes I am doing the crazy path and will be attending all or part of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in Chattanooga this week, Jan 19th-22nd, 2011.  This year I intend to make raspberry vinegars, and get the best berry production possible.  Plus I will start teaching a class on how to grow organic veggies, herbs, fruits, and flowers at my Young Harris office starting at the end of the month.  Also am teaching a weekend class at the John C Campbell Folk School on growing tomatoes in May.  It will be a great course using tomatoes as the focus for learning a LOT about the organic garden and how to create abundant healthy food.

Posted 1/11/2011 11:23am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. In December we travelled to Winston Salem to attend the Carolina Farm Stewardship Conference and stayed with a very wonderful family who hosted us.  Learned a lot, including more about the farm bill debate.  Nothing is straight forward and without other angles when it comes to the politics of agriculture and life.  However, given the circumstances it appears we had a decent outcome.  There will problems unforseen I am sure because rules and laws complicate any situation and are rarely perfect.  Thank you for paying attention.  Supporting healthy farms, farmers, and good food/health for all is my 2011 quest and it begins with me and John here at Qualla Berry Farm. Below is a copy of the CFSA link regarding the agriculture food safety bill in December 2010.  Please consider joining Carolina Farm Stewardship Association to find out more about agriculture and support the local food movement in the Carolinas. For Georgians, we also belong to Georgia Organics and they are another fantastic organization that supports everything we care about regarding sustainable farming and the local food movement.  What we do at home and how we choose to eat, what we purchase, and what and how we grow food, take care of animals, soil, water, and air does matter.  I hope to be conscious and kind in 2011 and grow the best crop of berries ever. Happy New Year....Let's live well and prosper.

In this section: Contact your senator, Link to the Bill, CFSA's Hurting NC's Local Food Harvest Report (4.2010), CFSA's blog post about S.510

Dec. 22, 2010
A Big Win for Healthy, Local, Organic Food

Congratulations! You made a major difference on one of the most significant issues in American agriculture!

Small-scale, local and organic food producers and their customers won a major, against-the-odds victory yesterday when the House of Representatives passed new food safety legislation. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) purports to give the Food and Drug Administration new tools to fight pathogen contamination in the US food supply in the 21st Century. But the most significant elements of the bill are the provisions protecting small and organic farms and local food producers from devastating and unnecessary federal regulations. With the FSMA, for the first time, the federal government is on record in recognizing that size does matter in regulating agriculture. By limiting FDA’s power to govern small farms and food makers serving predominantly local markets, the FSMA ensures that the local food sector can continue to thrive, continue to offer consumers a healthy alternative to industrial food, and continue to drive job growth.

This victory is thanks to our community working together, organizing, and making our voices heard. Now we will have a chance to see head-to-head whether diffused, localized food systems work to better protect public health—in terms of nutrition and pollution as well as pathogen control—than the highly-concentrated national and international system does today. The local, organic food community welcomes such a competition. The big handlers, distributors and retailers appear less enthusiastic.

CFSA will continue to monitor this issue, and police the FDA's regulatory process. The food safety fight is not over. But we have broken new ground in winning recognition for the unique contribution of local, organic food and farming. We look forward to working with you to achieving even greater success in the future.

Thank you!

Click here to read the bill - http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr2751eas/pdf/BILLS-111hr2751eas.pdf

Posted 11/18/2010 9:53am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.

Hope my phone call to Senator Burr(202-224-3154/DC# and 1-800-685-8916) helps to protect small farms in North Carolina like ourselves from more cumbersome rules and food regulations.  Senator Hagan is already on board for the Tester Amendment to Senate Bill 510.  Calls to support the Tester Amendment will protect and encourage small scale farm and food production and give opportunities to survive bureaucracy(the amendment helps the farmers with income under 500,000 dollars).

More information below from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association director and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project(we belong to both small grower organizations and they are great groups to support):


From: asap-bounces@main.nc.us [mailto:asap-bounces@main.nc.us] On Behalf Of Roland McReynolds
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 5:32 PM
To: asap@main.nc.us
Subject: [ASAP] S510 Update


Folks: There is still time--and still a need--to stand up for small farms and local food with the US Senate.

Today the Senate had a procedural vote on S.510, the food safety bill. The chamber voted 74 to 25 in favor of limiting debate on the bill, which clears the way for a vote on the bill itself. The Senate's arcane rules now allow up to 30 hours of continued debate on the bill, and it is possible that amendments on a number of unrelated hot button issues might be offered on the bill. So a vote could come tomorrow, Nov. 18; Friday, Nov. 19; or Nov. 29 or 30 (Congress adjourns for Thanksgiving Recess from Nov. 20 through 28).

Behind the scenes, negotiations continue regarding the Tester-Hagan Amendment, the proposal that CFSA and more than 125 other sustainable ag advocates (see http://www.worc.org/userfiles/file/Local%20Foods/Ltr_S510_Nov-4-2010.pdf for a list of some of those organizations) support to shield small farms and food businesses from industrial-size-fits-all regulations that would cripple the local, organic food economy.

Your voice is making a difference! Despite the opposition of industrial food processors and self-proclaimed consumer advocates, we are making headway and the Tester-Hagan Amendment still has a chance to get in the bill.

Let's keep up the pressure! Help us strengthen this nationwide campaign to protect the healthy alternative to industrial food. Call your Senators, and ask your friends, family and colleagues in other states to call their Senators, and tell them to support the Tester-Hagan Amendment, and to oppose S.510 unless the Amendment is included.

For a calling script, info on how to reach your Senators, and more background info, visit CFSA's Food Safety Action Alert at http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/alert_foodsafety10.shtml.

Thank you for fighting to protect healthy, local, organic food and farming. If we all work together, we can win this!



Roland McReynolds, Esq.

Executive Director

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

PO Box 448

Pittsboro, NC 27312

(919) 542 2402


Join us for the 25th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, Dec. 3-5, 2010 in Winston-Salem, NC

Posted 10/17/2010 9:48am by John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise.
Dear Friends,
Frost has arrived right on schedule in mid-October and our fall picking season has ended. Thanks to everyone who came and picked this year!
John Clarke & Karen Hurtubise
Qualla Berry Farm