Monday, December 19, 2011
Somebody said, "Wouldn't it be quicker to use a gun?"
Luckily I finished all except for the grant, where I am in the 4th week of work on it. I just finished a video that I am using to introduce my farm to the folks that are judging the grant. It ended up being a pretty good showing of just what we are all about, so I decided to post it here.
Enjoy it and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Ira B. Jones School ,and the Evergreen Charter School brought out large groups of kids and our Hops Harvest Tour and Family Farm Tour all brought lots of folks out to see our farm as well. Everyone had a great time and we hope this trend will continue.
The farm is slowly getting bedded down for the winter. I still have quite a bit of weeding and mulching to do as well as some more plowing for some expansion of hops and blueberries. Never ending. More importantly though, I have been trying to expand new ideas into our farm.
I am excited to be a part of some new developments here at the farm as I have just finished meeting with Eric Mader, the Assistant Pollinator Program Director, and Nancy Adamson, the Pollinator Conservation Specialist for the East region. Both work for the Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation headquartered in Portland Oregon. Hank Henry, of the East Technology Support Center for the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), was also there.
I proposed making my farm a model for native pollination and they are going to be very supportive in this adventure by providing me with information about funding and technical advice through both the Xerces Society and the NRCS. I will be implementing a flowering hedgerow and creating a 1/2 acre native flower bed to add to the other wildflower and milkweed plantings on the farm.
The finished additions should provide an important model for the education of farmers throughout the country on the importance of the pollination of native insects and provide for the opportunity learn how to protect these species by increasing their habitat. It is all part of creating a more sustainable and productive farm.
Let's not forget that this is also grant writing time at the farm. All good small farmers are good grant writers! I am working on an energy grant and an infrastructure grant that should make the farm a true destination model sustainable farm!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
- It was monarch tagging time for the third grade at Ira B. Jones School during Sept. 22-23. They just missed the largest amount of monarchs by two days, but we had enough to tag and release them for the kids to see over the two day period.The kids got to enjoy seeing all phases of the butterflies as we still had eggs, larva, and chrysalis for them to witness. They had a great time seeing all of these up close and seemed to be the most excited by just touching the caterpillars.After visiting the flighthouse, they learned a little about farming as they helped pick milkweed seed pods and as a reward, got to keep plenty of seeds to plant at the school for the future.Other things at the farm were also equally fascinating to them as they learned about alternative energy, and spent time feeding the fish and watching dragonflies at the pond.
Our next big visit was from Evergreen Charter School, where we had 48 kids at once. These kids were the fifth grade class and I don't really think there wasn't anything that they weren't familiar with here on the farm.Not only did we have more monarchs for them to tag when they were here on Oct. 6, but they learned a lot about small farms and particularly about the history of our farm here over the past 160 years. They got to see some really old farming tools and learned about how the "old timers" were the best sustainable farmers.These kids also helped out a lot on the farm. They even brought work gloves and helped me prepare pots for blueberries, collect milkweed seed pods, and spread mulch onto my blueberries.What I thought was particularly exciting was to see the number of students who, when asked if they thought they would become farmers, raised their hands enthusiastically. Maybe, just maybe my little one day visit has inspired at least one new farmer for the future!!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
It was a beautiful day for the shoot and I was fortunate enough to have Agriculture Extension Agents Melinda Roberts, who was interviewed for the segment, and Sue Colucci who came along for technical support. Also on board for an additional supportive interview was my good friend Fox Watson, local celebrity, musician, and movie star.
Melinda is getting set up for her interview in this shot above as I scoot out of the scene.
Monday, August 22, 2011
"The Wall Street Journal, oh yea, what took you so long!"
Turns out, it was for real. She soon realized, after talking for nearly 2o minutes, that it was just my nature to say something like that. It was published today on the "online version" enhanced article about the beer industry in Asheville and me, of course.
Here is the link:
There are some more great media events for the farm coming up very soon.
Meanwhile, there is no stopping how much work has to be done here. It is the peak of weed season and so far it is weeds 4, van 1
We are hoping to improve!
Also, the Biltmore Estate just bought a lot of hops from me for a huge sold out "beer pairing" food extravaganza featuring world renowned beer brewing legend, Garrett Oliver. My hops are everywhere these days including some weddings.
Here is the site, check it out.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I approached Pisgah with a great marketing scheme that promoted both our businesses. I suggested that we do a joint adventure with a tour at the farm followed by a sampling of "Burnette's Brew", then letting the crowd leave the farm for a 5 mile journey to Pisgah Brewing and a tour of the their brewery and more beer.
One thing I know from the past is that folks that are interested in hops are also ironically interested in beer! I think everyone here had a great time. I could see their intent facial expressions linger on every word I said about growing hops and the struggle of our small farm.
I tried to speed things up, talking about my farm and all the tours and research we were doing to no avail. It was like a collapsing card house or sand castle. Slowly at first the lines followed suit leaving my hop yard and going to the beer tent.
Within minutes I had an audience of 13 die hard home brewers in front of me and a line of 60 other thirsty folks in the beer line away from me. Oh well, I had basically said my piece, and, really, I was probably more ready for a cold drink of brew than they were.
Hats go off to my helpers for the day. Brent, my sister Vicki, wife Martha, and my mom for manning the money tent and to Seth, who took on the sole responsibility of parking cars coming to the show. There is not a day here on the farm that I don't have the help of some of these folks and I am sure it is the same of most of the small farmers in WNC. Thanks across the board for all of the volunteers that help make our small farms possible!! And thank goodness I have a wife that is most tolerant.
Mom, Seth, and Brent
One last thought, this will not be the last hop tour! Keep in touch!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
There is a limited 20 kegs produced so be sure and test it out at Pisgah or other popular establishments in Asheville. Be sure to get some this year. And one sure fire way to sample this brew is to come out to our farm on August 6 at 1 pm. and join me as I give a hop harvest tour of the farm. You will learn just about anything there is about growing hops and be able to sample that delicious aromatic fresh beer.
Here is a press release for the occasion:
Grand Hop Harvest Tour and Sampling --showcasing hops from the vine to keg.Hop’n Blueberry Farm and Pisgah Brewing Company invite you to experience a dual hop tour on Saturday, August 6, 2011.
Arrive at the Farm (24 Middle Mountain Road – Black Mountain) by 12:45pm for a 1:00pm tour. Then take a short drive down the road to Pisgah Brewing Company (150 Eastside Drive – Black Mountain) to continue your experience. Tickets are $8.00 per person and include a beer sample (or two).
Pisgah Brewing Company has been producing a “wet hop” beer with fresh hops grown at Hop'n Blueberry Farm for the last three years. This unique beer only happens once per year when hops are picked and added to the brewing process at the brewery within hours after leaving the farm.
The tour will start at the farm, where owner Van Burnette, will share information about growing hops from the ground up going from the vine to the kettle. Van will also talk about the many other things his farm is producing including the new butterfly flighthouse and exciting new crops for Western North Carolina.
The farm tour will end with a sampling of Pisgah’s wet-hopped beer, appropriately named "Burnette's Brew". According to Burnette, “This is the best batch yet with a fresh aromatic taste that will delight anyone. With an addition of more fresh hops obtained from Blue Ridge Hops in Madison County, the flavor is even more pronounced.”
After the farm tour, participants will leave for Pisgah Brewing Co. where they will enter the brewery to hear about hops from the kettle to the keg. Once the tour is complete, participants are invited to the taproom to purchase other great Pisgah beers along with more “Burnette’s Brew.”
Tickets are limited so be sure to get over here to secure a place for the tour!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Check out the latest YouTube video here.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The first group were the first and second graders. Cindy Debrull, the camp director warned me that this group loved to get their pictures taken and it was easy to see.
After a session of butterfly lifestyle with some videos that I have produced in the study area, the kids were eager to get to the butterfly house to see the wonders of the butterflies up close.
We had just missed seeing two monarchs hatch out from their chrysalis and also had just missed a caterpillar changing into a chrysalis. Both of these events are going on now for the next week or so.
Some butterflies landed on our visitors and the kids were awful excited to feel the butterflies on their hands. They didn't want to leave but finally had to because they stayed passed their lunch hour.
I am always amazed at how much these young folk know about butterflies and farms. It makes me glad to see. Maybe there is hope for the small sustainable farms and the insect pollinators that make them work!
Saturday, July 9, 2011
This is the special brew done by Pisgah for the last three years that features hops that are picked from my farm fresh and put into the beer making process within six hours after the pick. Called a "wet hop" beer, this brewing technique has to take place within 10 hours after hops are picked.
This year I was able to get Blue Ridge Hops, located near Marshall, NC. to bring in an extra 10 pounds of their certified organic hops to add to recipe with my 12 pounds of chemically free hops, making for a nice hoppy aromatic pale ale that taste really good and is probably good for you as well!
Watch the process below from my post on YouTube.
Monday, July 4, 2011
We already have one of Dan's replicas of a Native American grain grinders that not only looks like a part of real American history, but also serves as a bird bath/or in our case a butterfly bath!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
This vehicle is as unique as our farm is, no question about it.
The sleek design and Swedish integrity made this America's first truly compact car for the market. It's own marketing featured this car as the best floating car on the market if it fell into a lake or the ocean (go figure)! More pictures will follow.
The second thing I wanted to talk about was ASAP's Family Farm Tour. This seemed to be a great success to our farm. We increase visitation by about 30% from last year. Most of the time it was non stop and I was able to get the point across about our farm to about 130 people. Exhausting, but most beneficial.
Here is a quote for Beth who emailed just after her visit. She bought one of my native blueberries and wanted to know how to care for it.
"Your tour was great! I LOVE the butterfly house, and I knew absolutely nothing about hops before yesterday. What an operation! We only went to 2 other farms yesterday & none were as good as yours....Anyway I really admire your trying to preserve your families farm land as well as taking some really big risks while working really hard, I'm sure, & even maintaining a great sense of humor! Hang in there!"
Now that was the only email that I have gotten so far from the tour, but she said post it by all means. How could I not!
The third and final thing on the farm is our first hop harvest coming up next week. I have been in contact with Pisgah Brewing and they are ready as well. My harvest will not be as bountiful as last year, but the "wet hop" beer will happen again with this organic and locally active brewery.
Don't miss their wet hop beer, "Burnette's Brew", named after me of course. Coming later this month.
Friday, June 17, 2011
There is a reason we call the farm Hop'n Blueberry and that reason does happen now. In these two pictures you can see some Jersey Highbush Blueberries (what few I have) and Cascade hops. Both are getting close to harvest. The hops are unusually early, and there aren't that many. Let's look at them first.
I think, the early warm spell, the low latitude, and varieties are a major factor about how hops are going to do in this area. In my opinion, it doesn't look good, but I am just one of a growing number of those studying the possible next replacement crop for tobacco in Western North Carolina.
North Carolina State University has taken some major interest in this crop and have started hop yards in both Raleigh and at the Mountain Horticultural Experimental Station in Arden. Being in at the ground level, my small hop yard has had close scrutiny by those involved in the experimental project.
Here is my summary:
I think that the day length is a major factor in early cone production. That is an unconfirmed observation. Vines are producing cones before the mass of vine growth is finished. Every since my plantings, cone production has remained the same or has decreased.
I have pulled every Centennial vine up and replanted with Nuggets that I root pruned this year. The variety that I thought was doing the best in my yard. So far the new plantings are at best 4 feet high compared to, lets say, the cascades that I bought 3 years ago from Oregon that reached a height of 20 feet the first year.
I could go on, but for now, lets see.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
My mother came out to help once again as the senior chaperons along with three other men who either taught at Ira B. Jones Elementary School in Asheville, NC., or who were parents of kids there today.
We really like these eager young people when they come out and explore the farm and learn about the monarch butterflies and farming. They seem to know about as much as I do at times. I hope that they get the chance to come out this summer with their parents and learn more.
Watch the video here:
Friday, May 27, 2011
Then, after waiting patiently, the shell cracks and the emerging butterfly pulls itself out into the world. The whole process takes about two minutes.
It will hang upside down for several hours until the wings are hardened off.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Yep, both agreed that varmints were to blame. Rabbits in particular. I got tons of rabbits. Seems that they just love to chew on soft hardwood tissue, just to piss you off it seems, cause it appears that they even leave the leaves? The incriminating evidence is the angular cuts on the stem as these two photos show.
Now, I will have to either cage the plants as they are put into the field, or, it's rabbit stew at the farm!!
My next varmint seems to be my neighbors now. They have increased traffic on my property and have diverted water breaks that lead to my irrigation system without my permission. It has caused me much headache and damage. They are city folk that don't realize what farming is all about or respect private property. I now have to repair my system and seek some retribution from these irresponsible actions. If I don't already have enough to do!!!
My first school group arrives this week. I will post the news from that later this week. Then the farm is booked for the most of June during the weekend, which is a good thing. I will have my annual family reunion, followed by a booked party, then the Family Farm Tour at the end of the month sponsored by ASAP.
Whooo, if you read all of this, think of how I must feel!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Oh yes, and the monarchs are coming again. I have my 5 instar caterpillars changing into chrysalis for the last few days. I have 30 in the house and 100's in the milkweed field. Can't wait for the grand opening on May 20, 2011. I will have a very large selection of all phases of butterflies at the butterfly house.
Come see us!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I use round bail bailing twine that I get from local farm supply stores for my twine. It seems to hold up through the season and is cheap. You get something like 15,000 feet of it for less than 40 bucks. Looks like for me, it is enough for 4 years at my current production of 135 vines.
Cutting the line to lengths takes some time, a good project for beer drinking friends one afternoon. They feel like they are doing something yet not stepping on anything! All kidding aside, I have had some really good help over here this year from friends at work, like Brent and Phil. I have another friend, Seth, who is also young and very energetic and who is going to grow some hops himself. They have saved me countless hours.
Once the lines are cut, I lower the main line and tie them to my permanently mounted hooks and raise it back up tying up the bottoms on my stakes at each plant. For stakes, I have made them out of pressure treated wood. They last and work well. I don't tie too tight, it is all tricky, but works so well.
Now comes decision time, picking my strongest looking vines to be trained clockwise up the twine. I usually pick three of them and cut out all the rest. This time next week, I will be back there cutting all the little ones trying to come up and maybe stripping the leaves off of my main vines up to around 18 inches to allow for air circulation.
I'll tell ya, these things are worse than having a house full of babies! From here on out, I will have to be tending to them every day and taking care of them. Make a man thirsty!