Category Archives: Updates

Some (holiday) food for thought.

For me, food is one of the highlights of the holiday season.

Actually… let’s be serious.  Eating is one of my most favorite activities, in general, at any time of year.

However, the act of gathering with family and friends and chowing down on some lovingly prepared holiday food is particularly special to me.  And that’s what I appreciate so much about agriculture; the food that our farmers cultivate has an ability to bring people together.  I’ve been lucky to get to experience this through the monthly Friends of Agriculture Breakfast that we manage here at the Office of Agricultural Economic Development.

The Friends of Agriculture Breakfast is held on the third Wednesday of each month from 7:00 am to 8:00 am at the 4-H Building in Columbus, NC.  That requires a 6:00 am (or earlier) wake-up call for most folks who attend.  I am consistently amazed by the number of people who come out each month to show their support for our agricultural community, despite the early nature of the event.

The staple Breakfast menu includes sausage, eggs, bacon, and grits, and we strive to feature food from local farms as best we can.  We also make a point of preparing a “special item” dish each month, depending on what’s in season.  This month, we baked up some apples from a local orchard and we also made pancakes with eggnog syrup.  Yes, you read that correctly. Eggnog. Syrup. You can find the recipe here to try the sugary, buttery, eggnog-y deliciousness for yourself.

Whether it’s gingerbread cookies, holiday ham, eggnog, or whatever it may  be – we hope that you all enjoy your holiday food traditions and the company you share it with.  Happy holidays from the Polk County Ag Economic Development team!

Restoring the Family Table 2.2


Monday lunch:
Leftover Scalloped Potatoes with sausage crumbles and Kimchi I made a few months ago. If you have never tried Kimchi I recommend it. It is naturally fermented vegetables of any combination, usually incorporating garlic, onions, ginger and cabbage of some variety. I added kale to mine as well. Before refrigeration, fermentation was a common method of preservation. Fermented foods are easily digested and in some cultures, it is always present-like we have salt and pepper on the table. I had a peach for an afternoon snack.
I had an appointment in Shelby in the late afternoon and I will admit- it was tempting to go through the Chick-Fil- A drive thru for waffle fries, but I DID NOT!
Home at 6pm- My dear Aunt from Florida was very willing to participate in the ‘ Eat Local’ Challenge and had prepared a wonderful meal for those able to attend- 2 Aunts, my mom, my daughter and 2 cousins. We enjoyed: Pork Chops with a 5 Pepper Coffee Rub from Meanwhile Back in Saluda, yellow and zucchini squash with onions, baked sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes and kimchi on the side. I also added a bit of the very yummy Caramelized garlic and onion jam to my sweet potato instead of butter. That stuff is a great compliment to many food items! Dessert- fresh sliced Crenshaw Melon and blueberries. All vegetables and fruits came from Farmers Markets in Polk County. Pork Chops compliments of our farm.
I had a late night snack of Spelt toast with Rose’s Best FROG jam ( FROG- fig, raspberry, orange and ginger).

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.


Tilling the Ag Center Garden

AmeriCorps alum Laura Brookshire came by the Ag Center today and spent some volunteer time tilling up the garden today. Our garden this year will be twice the size of our previous gardens. Thanks Laura!

Tilling March 2014 Tilling March 2014 2Tilling March 2014 3

New Website

Thanks for bearing with us as we transition to the new webpage. Patrick and I are working to get all of the information back up and available. We lost most of the content from our last web site, so we are having to start from scratch.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.