Category Archives: Events

Restoring the Family Table 1.3

After a late and very satisfying lunch with good company, I was not very hungry when I went to the SlowFood Asheville Foothills quarterly gathering in Tryon. Of course I still found room to taste to fabulous offerings from community members.  I nibbled on Corn Pudding and Carolina Coastal Shrimp– fresh from the coast on NC. I consider that local for shrimp. To wrap up my day I snacked on a few hand made crackers from Wildflour Bakery with homemade pimento cheese from Meanwhile Back in Saluda with the remaining Naked Apple Cider.

If you haven’t attended a Slow Food event, I strongly encourage you to do so. They are free, food is always good, fresh, local and created by loving hands that are committed to conscientiously supporting  local agriculture. Potlucks are quarterly. Find out more at  This event was held at the newly opened Community’s Kitchen located at 835 N Trade St Tryon, NC. the Community’s Kitchen is the hard work and dedication of community members and supporters, led by Carol Lynn Jackson of Manna Cabanna’s organic CSA and farm stand in Saluda.  Carol Lynn is a strong voice for local agriculture and entrepreneurial agribusinesses. the kitchen is a certified commercial kitchen and event space for community events and value added product production. The space is fabulous! Please check it out and use it.

For my local week- the first day was delicious and satisfying!

Restoring the Family Table 1.2

Lunch consisted of a Brined Turkey, scalloped potatoes, corn on the cob, grilled zucchini, purple beans stir-fried with garlic and onions, Homemade Peach Salsa and local bakery bread.  Dessert- Honey sweetened homemade yogurt with blueberries and blackberries and ginger mint.

It was nice to share lunch with family- 2 aunts, my mother, daughter and husband.

Brined Turkey- I had put a Restoration Farm Non-GMO fed heritage turkey in the brine Saturday about noon. The brine consisted of a Naked Apple Hard Cider, local peaches diced up, salt and peppercorns, rosemary and sage from the herb garden and an Italian herb mix from Meanwhile Back in Saluda, which is where I got the cider and salt.  The salt has been my most exciting find so far. It is from a company called Dickinson Salt Works in Malden, W Va.  Apparently in the early 1800’s an ancient sea ( Iapetus Ocena) was discovered deep below the Appalachian Mountains.  Today, two 7th generation descendants of William Dickinson are capturing this seawater, evaporating and hand harvesting a finishing salt. Very exciting to have an Appalachian Mountain salt.   I also found a wonderful condiment at Manna Cabanna in Saluda. It is a Caramelized Onion and Garlic jam from a local business- Happy Wife, Happy Life. Don’t you just love the name???   Just a touch really gave a pop to the brined turkey.

All vegetables and fruits were found at local farmers markets.- Tryon, Saluda and Columbus or Manna Cabanna in Saluda ( I got onions here), or my garden.  Butter and Milk for the potatoes from the Mill Spring Farm Store.  The Non-GMO wheat Bread came from Cool Mamas Bakery in Green Creek. Since I started making my own yogurt several years ago I have cut the cost of this purchase by at least 75%. It is easy to do and makes me feel very accomplished. We have bees on our farm and the honey, well…’s awesome too.   You can find local honey at most farmers markets, Meanwhile Back in Saluda, Manna Cabanna in Saluda and the Mill Spring Farm Store.

Restoring the Family Table 1

So my week of eating local has begun.
I will start with a little background of myself and the family farm. After being away from Polk County for about 22 years, my family, husband, 2 of 4 kids and 3 dogs returned to my family home in 2008. First Christmas-

My dear husband says ‘ darling, what do you want for Christmas?” Me : A chicken coop.

Husband: A What?

Me: A chicken coop.

Husband: What is that and what is it for?

Me: Chickens and eggs. I want fresh eggs.

Husband: eye rolling…..

Me: I got a chicken coop- he really does love me doesn’t he???
Fast forward to 2015: Restoration Farm ( owner and operator Dawn Jordan) has some 200 heritage breed chickens and turkeys of various ages and purposes, pigs and a few cows, bee hives and a small garden. My dear husband manages the cows and will occasionally kill the snakes trying to eat my poultry( last night was interesting).
So, with that being disclosed, breakfast this morning consisted of:
Farm Fresh EGGS that dear husband collected from the side yard coop,
SAUSAGE from one of our pastured hogs recently gone to market, sliced TOMATOES from the garden, SPELT TOAST from Beneficial Foods bakery and HONEY from our bees. The COFFEE came from Openroad Coffee’s newly offered onsite roaster. It was very good.
:ooking forward to lunch. I’ll give you a hint- we recently processed turkeys

Sourcing Note: All of these items can be purchased locally, produced by local farmers or vendors. I will be making a list of items purchased, cost and breakdown of cost per person.

Packaged Bee Installation Workshop

The season is ON for beekeepers! If you are a beginning beekeeper, you may want to know more about installing a package of bees.

Check out “Don the Fat Bee Man,” and his videos on YouTube, including this one about installing a package.

Phil Holbert of Holbert Bee Supply will demonstrate a package installation on April 10th at his shop in Saluda, NC. You can reach him at (828) 749-2337 for more information. There will be two sessions that day.



Gardening with Kids

This week marked the beginning of a new educational program run by Sydney and Alex, the AmeriCorps members at PCOAED.  The after-school program seeks to increase children’s understanding of where their food comes from, how to grow it themselves, and the nutritional benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

The program will continue until school lets out and will incorporate vegetable and herb gardening, cooking, and additional outdoor science education.  Heidi Ramsey, the after school director at Polk Central Elementary, has allowed us to visit the school once a week to provide hands-on, environmental education.


This week’s focus was on seeds.

Everyone was allowed to feel, smell, and explore a variety of seeds that are common in cooking and baking.  The children were excited and engaged as they realized they had eaten mustard, poppy, sesame, and dill seeds.  They were allowed to crush up coriander seeds and smell the fragrant, lemony odor.

The students then learned about seed growth and season extension.  In preparation for an early spring garden, the children planted broccoli, kale, kholrabi, mustard, and lettuce seeds in flats.

A large part of experiential education is open exploration.  As an educator you are there to answer questions as they arise, but not to hinder students from self-discovery.

I have spent the last three years teaching children about environmental conservation and gardening, and it is by far the most rewarding and exciting job one could ask for.

Children love dirt, worms, and most of all, eating.

Gardens allow a space for exploration and learning outside the traditional classroom.  Kinesthetic learners who may struggle in school, thrive, as they are able to learn through physical movement and self-guided problem solving.

Children also learn to prepare fresh produce, and often when they cook these things themselves, they are excited to eat them, and even ask for seconds!

I can’t wait to see how the students learn and develop as we progress through our gardening program.  I hope to provide a weekly update, and hopefully some funny stories, as we ourselves learn as we teach.


Cooking Local and Seasonal for Thanksgiving

This week marks the last Columbus tailgate market until the spring.  It is also the weekend before Thanksgiving, and a great time to stock up on necessities for your Thanksgiving feast.  The market accepts EBT and Debit, and even doubles your EBT dollars (spend $10.00 on your EBT card, you recieve $20.00 in tokens).

Often there is a perception that purchasing from the farmers market is more expensive than your local grocery, but in actuality, when things have had a good season, they can be much more affordable when purchased from a local farmer.  Additionally, local produce often boasts greater flavor and nutrition since it has not spent a week on a truck, and is often harvested the day before.  Once produce has been harvested, it begins to lose nutrients, so the sooner it is eaten after harvest, the greater the vitamin and mineral content.

At the Columbus market you will find kale, turnips, sweet potatoes, apples, artisan breads, honey, cider, butternut squash….and the list goes on an on.  Many of these items can be purchased ahead of time and will keep until Thanksgiving.  Local breads can be frozen and defrosted the night before the meal, and there are so many great ones to try!  So, for your Thanksgiving gathering how about trying a local, seasonal recipe that will impress your family with your magnificent cooking skills.

Below I have posted a few recipe ideas I found that seemed simple, tasty, and had a majority of their ingredients in season now.  Local meats and eggs can be found at the market or at the Mill Spring Farm Store.  Feel free to post your favorite recipe in the comments below!

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are good on their own, but if you’re looking for a unique way to utilize them in your meal, here are a few ideas.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes: Here is a twist on a twice baked potato that is usually made with russets (typically a late spring/summer crop)

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup:  This soup would be a good hearty addition to your meal, and could utilize local sausage and sweet potatoes.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can be used for sweet or savory dishes.  It is great roasted with a little honey and cinnamon, or made into a pie or soup.  Here are a couple recipes I thought would be good for Thanksgiving.

Spicy Butternut Squash Meatloaf:

Traditional Butternut Squash Soup:  this is always a favorite, and is pretty simple.  It’s sweet and savory and gives you a lot of soup for very little money.


Of course you have apple pies, apple cobbler, apple crumble, etc.  I decided I would post another option for utilizing apples which would add a healthy, light side to your meal.

Apple Grape and Celery Salad:


Kale is so nutritious and versatile.  You can make really any kind of variation of a kale salad you would like.  I wanted to post my recipe, but I realized I play it by ear and have no idea how much of any ingredient I use.  Below is a recipe that is similar to mine.  The cinnamon is surprisingly delicious.  (I usually roast my pecans in the oven with coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, and cayenne)  They’re tasty on their own, but really make the salad complete.


Turnips are one of those forgotten vegetables, that are actually amazing!  They are great simply roasted with other root vegetables, or added to soups, roasted meats, etc.  Here is a simple recipe to give a try.

Cider Glazed Roots with Cinnamon and Walnuts:

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a personal favorite of mine.  The bitterness that is associated with the vegetable can be taken out by quickly blanching the heads before cooking them.  This recipe looks so good, and is another semi-healthy option.

Brussels Sprout Apple and Bacon Hash:|/275510/brussels-sprout-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|953631

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is as versatile as butternut, and I personally like them cut in half and roasted with brown sugar or maple syrup.  You can also make an acorn squash pie!  Here are some recipes I thought looked tasty.

Acorn Squash and Kale Soup:|/275063/acorn-squash-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|257064

Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar|/275063/acorn-squash-recipes/@center/276955/seasonal-produce-recipe-guide|261881


I hope these recipes have inspired you to include at least one seasonal recipe to your Thanksgiving meal!  Don’t forget about the final Columbus Tailgate Market this Saturday, November 22nd from 9 am-12 pm in front of the the Courthouse.  See you there!




All about Pumpkins!

This week, in honor of October’s finest fruit, we will be talking about pumpkins.  

We are also celebrating the pumpkin by giving away pumpkins at the Polk County Tailgate Markets!  Don’t forget to stock up on other great seasonal fall produce, eggs, meats, and crafts after you score your pumpkin!  The Pumpkin Giveaways will take place:

  • October 16th-Tryon (Palmer and Trade Street) 4-6 pm
  • October 17th– Saluda (West Main Street) 4:30-6:30 pm
  • October 18th– Columbus (Courthouse Square) 8-12 pm


  • Pumpkins originated in Central America and were cultivated before Maize.
  • Pumpkin seeds have been found at archaeological sites in the American southwest dating back six thousand years, as well as at sites throughout Mexico, Central and South America, and the eastern United States.
  • The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon meaning “large melon.”
  • The popular Jack-be-little pumpkin is actually a gourd, not a pumpkin.
  • Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
  • North Carolina pumpkin acreage has been estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 acres.
  • The origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.  The pumpkin actually served as the crust!
  • Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats.


Health Benefits of Pumpkins

  • Pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene
  • Pumpkin seeds are anti-parasitic!
  • Accoring to the National Institutes of Health, a cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A, which aids in vision, especially in dim light.
  • Nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols, which have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
  • Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent cancer and wrinkles too!
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino-acid Tryptophan, which is important in the production of serotonin.  So they may make you happier!!
  • A serving of pumpkin has more potassium than that of a banana!

A Unique Pumpkin Recipe

(Pumpkin Pickles)

  • 1 lemon
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 sugar pumpkin (3 to 4 pounds), seeded, peeled, and cut into 1 1/2 × 3/4 × 3/4 -inch pieces
Directions: (45 minutes):
  •  Using vegetable peeler, remove strips of zest from lemon. In large nonreactive saucepan, combine zest, sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, peppercorns, and salt. Simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar, 5 minutes. Add pumpkin. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin is crisp-tender, about 15 minutes.
  • With slotted spoon, transfer pumpkin pickles to sterilized canning jars (you will need about 8 half-pint jars or 4 one-pint jars). Pour in cooking liquid to within 1/4 inch of top of each jar. Seal. Refrigerate and use within one week, or sterilize jars following canning jar manufacturer’s instructions for longer storage.

giant_pieThe largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.



Fall is a great time to check out a farm, sip on some warm cider, and pick your own apples and pumpkins.  Even though NC isn’t a huge grower of pumpkins, we have some pick-your own pumpkin farms not far from Polk county.  To find these farms I utilized a great site:  With this website you can search counties or broader regions for specific crops, farms, farm stands, etc.  I did a simple search for pick-your own pumpkin in Western NC, and got a list of several farms to choose from.

One thing to note is that many of these farms do not allow you to actually go out and pick a pumpkin, though there are a few near us.  Instead they let you choose from a variety of pumpkins they have purchased from another farmer and have on site.  The best way to know is to call the number listed before driving out there.

 Enjoy pumpkin season!!


Newsletter from Polk Cooperative Extension

If you are not signed up for the Polk Extension newsletter, now is a great time. Check out this month’s newsletter below – lots of great info.

Sign up for the newsletter by calling Extension at 894-8218.

Lawn Seeding Time
Labor Day signals a time for action to homeowners that need to seed or reseed their lawn. Ninety-five percent of all lawns in Polk County are Tall Fescue. Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass lawns are more successful when planted during the month of September. For bare ground or a complete renovation, use 6 pounds of seed per every 1,000 square feet. If you are over-seeding an existing lawn, reduce that amount to 3 pounds of seed per every 1,000 square feet of lawn area.

Tree ID Class September 30th
Ever wonder what type of native trees are growing on your property? If you have, then you’ll want to participate in the Tree Identification Class at the Raymond Fitness Trail behind St. Luke’s Hospital. Polk County Cooperative Extension and the NC Forest Service are co-sponsoring the event beginning at 10am, Tuesday, September 30th. A handout will be available for folks who call the Polk County Extension office at 894-8218 and register for the class. (A rain date has been set for Friday, October 3rd at the same time).

Sweet Autumn Clematis


One quick trip around Polk County and one will see wild vines growing on trees and shrubs with small, fragrant white flowers in late August and early September. Locally there are two different species of fall blooming Clematis. We estimate 70 percent are an Asian relative that can be somewhat weedy. The second fall flowering Clematis called the Virgin’s Bower Clematis is a native flowering vine, also with white fragrant flowers.

How can you tell the difference? The foliage on the two vines are totally different. The image on the right is the native Virgin’s Bower Clematis leaf. These can be found growing in sunny abandoned fields and often on woodland edges. This is a great vine and not as aggressive as the Asian Autumn Clematis.

Growing Garlic
In WNC the best time to plant garlic cloves is mid-September to early October. Space cloves 2 to 6 inches apart in the row. It is critical that garlic be transplanted in the fall because cold weather is needed for good bulb development. Recommended hard-neck varieties for our area are: German Extra Hardy, Chesnok Red, Music, and Spanish Roja. Soft-neck recommended varieties are: California Early and New York White Neck.

Research in NC has demonstrated that hard-neck garlic produces superior yields and possess more winter hardiness. This September try your hand at producing your own deliciously fresh garlic!
Planting Cover Crops

One garden task not practiced enough in Polk County is the use of cover crops. Cover crops or “green manure” crops help improve garden soils in many ways. Legumes such as Crimson Clover, Hairy Vetch and Austrian Winter Pea should be seeded in September. Small grains such as Rye, Barley, and Triticale can be planted as late as October 25th. We are mentioning it now so you can locate a source of seed.

Goldenrod vs Ragweed

Photo: Ohio State University archives

Fall is allergy season and many people blame their sniffles and sneezing on Goldenrod. Unfortunately Goldenrod is getting falsely accused. Goldenrod pollen is heavy and doesn’t float freely in the air. Ragweed on the other hand blooms at the same time (see photo) and its pollen goes everywhere. Worst of all, in Polk County, we have both common Ragweed (pictured), and Giant Ragweed.

Got Blackberry Problems?
Wild blackberry plants will pop up in abandoned fields and hillsides without any encouragement. Often these thorny plants become a woody weed in need of control. If you experience this problem, treat the blackberry foliage and canes with 1 1/2 percent solution of a herbicide with glyphosate such as Round-Up. Applied to wild blackberry in September, Round-Up will surprise you next spring, the plants won’t sprout. (note: spray with caution since glyphosate will also kill your pasture grasses if sprayed).
Orangestriped Oakworm Arrival

Here today, gone tomorrow, is an accurate way to describe the foliage on several species of oak trees in Polk County. Last week there were no Orangestriped Oakworms observed. In seven days they have denuded several Willow Oaks and numerous Red Oak species including: Pin Oak, Scarlet Oak, Northern Red Oak, Black Oak, and Southern Red Oak.

If the trees are small (under 15 feet) or newly planted, you should spray the Oaks with an approved insecticide containing Acephate, Spinasad, Bifenthrin, or Sevin. Dipel is an organic product that is an option when the worms are small. Note: sometimes the worm’s stripes are yellow, orange, and on occasion green.
Native Blue Ageratum

Last month we told you about the Japanese Anemone. This month we have another underrated fall blooming perennial. Native Ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum) has sky blue flowers in September on plants 18 to 30 inches in height. It is a vigorous plant that spreads by rhizomes and can become weedy in ideal growing conditions. This herbaceous native is often found in moist soils along streams, ponds, and ditches. It will grow in full sun to partial shade and continues to flower until frost. Great for the novice gardener to try, and best of all it is pretty!

4-H Barbeque Supper
BBQ pit at 4-H Center, Columbus, NC
Mark your calendar for Friday, October 24th for it will be the date of the Fall 4-H BBQ supper. Slow cooked chicken prepared over an open pit with our special sauce, or slow roasted roast beef cooked in its own juices. Get your tickets now for there are no tickets sold at the door. They can be purchased from Dot or Sarah at the Extension Office.
Feed Fescue Now
If you own pasture or have a cool season lawn (most are), then mid-September through mid-October is the ideal time to fertilize both. You may need to raise the soil pH by adding lime, but the only way to know for sure is with a soil test. Typical fertilizer rates are 1 pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. Without a soil test, read and follow the directions on your turf fertilizer label, or apply 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet. For pastures take a soil test today to determine what you need!
Pink Muhly Grass

A North American native, Pink Muhly Grass sounds too good to be true. Long-lived with little to no insect or disease pests, this ornamental grass is perfect for  the low maintenance sunny garden. Starting this month, delicate plumes of flower panicles create a striking pink haze above the foliage. Muhly Grass tolerates heat, humidity, and poor soil.
Tell a Friend
Please feel free to forward the newsletter to your other gardening friends. If they would like to receive the letter, ask them to contact the Cooperative Extension Center in Columbus at (828) 894-8218.

John Vining
Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for insuring that the extended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label, Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact an agent of the North Carolina Extension Service in your county.

Pressure Canning Chicken at Farmers’ Market

A very special thank you to Dawn Jordan for doing a great job at the Columbus Tailgate Market on Saturday. Dawn shared her pressure canning and poultry expertise with market customers as part of the Discover You Can grant.

A lot of people are intimidated by pressure canning, but the experience seems worthwhile. Dawn slow roasted four chickens to yield six quarts of meat and one quart of broth. At market, Dawn sampled turkey that was pressure canned two years ago. Now, it is easy enough to open the can of turkey, combine with a mirepoix, noodles, and cook to make an easy turkey soup. 

Thanks to Dawn for her canning inspiration! For more on pressure canning chicken, Ball has some great information:


Farmland Movie at Tryon Theatre presented by Farm Bureau

‘Farmland’ is a movie dedicated to younger farmers running their farms and ranches. Sponsored by the Polk County Farm Bureau, this is a different look at farms.

We will update with more details as we get them but be prepared for the showings on August 25th!