Sunday, September 28, 2014


We are planning our annual monarch tag and release on Oct. 4 at 1 pm on the farm.  This is a great event for the family as we will hopefully have several monarchs that we have both in the flighthouse and outside available to put tags on the wings and send them off to Mexico for the winter
Male monarch
The event is free to the public but a donation is a great thing to have as well.  Kids will have the opportunity to catch wild monarchs outside if they are here for the tagging.  We will also have kids butterfly nets, milkweed plants, and seed kits for attracting monarchs for sale.

For more information, call the farm at 828-664-1166.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Pollinator Movie

I just completed this movie featuring some of the pollinators that are active on the farm during September.  The place is a buzz with these guys really, you can hear the buzz when you step out into our native flower pollinator field.  Enjoy the movie.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Learning Community School Visits The Farm

The Learning Community School, located in Black Mountain, NC brought out the kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 4th graders to the farm to experience our Monarch butterflies and learn about pollinators.  It was a great time for them to come because of the many things we have to offer at this time of the year.
Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders

One of the favorite things was going through our Pollinator Maze.  Set up on the farms native flower pollinator habitat field, the maze offered the kids a fun exploration to see the many types of flowers in bloom and the insects that pollinate them.

After the maze, we went into the flight house to look at the monarchs and other butterflies

Then it was on to make seed bombs using clay and native wildflowers, including some seeds that they gathered themselves.

After washing up, it was time to go and say goodbye.  I sure had fun, and I'm pretty sure that they did too!

Here is a short video of the kids coming out of the maze:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

5th Annual Hop Harvest Tour

Cascade hops at sunset
This year, our Hop Harvest Tour promises to be the best ever.  Not only will we have a very informative tour of our hop yard and the process of growing hops, but we will be having samples of beer made from our hops from Hi Wire and Lookout Brewing Companies.  
Pickers in the yard
And for the first time ever, we will have live music provided by Unnamed Suspects.  This should really be fun and educational to boot.

The event starts at 1 pm. and tickets are $12 online at our website , or $15 at the gate.  After the tour ends around 3 pm. visitors are encouraged to visit Hi Wire Brewery in Asheville, or Lookout Brewery located only 3.5 miles from the farm.
Cascade and Nugget hops ready for the Lookout Brewing Co.
What is truly unique about this harvest is that the cones are picked off of the vine and used immediately in the brewing process, all within 8 hours.  This is called a "wet hop" or "fresh hop" beer and offers a taste that is truly aromatic and floral.  Talk about fresh!  And local!

Folks at the tour
Get your tickets early as we will have a limited amount for sale.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's That Time---Hop Harvest!

Pickers in the hop yard
We have had a generally good year for production.  Our numbers are up, although still short of expectations compared to out west with just a little over a pound per vine average, some of the cone sizes just have to be admired. Just look below at these cascades.  Of course these are some of the "top picks", those from the top of the vines that receive the most sun, but the rest were easily three fingers long.
These are what I call four finger hops!
This year our first pick went to Hi Wire Brewery in Asheville.  Here they made a 1.5 barrel run of wet hops from our farm.  We picked early in the morning and got the pounds over to the brewery by 12 noon where they were put directly into the boil by Luke Holgate, the head brewer.  

Our next pick went to Lookout Brewing Company here in Black Mountain.  During the morning of the delivery, I had at one time 6 volunteers from around the area, including 3 from Lookout, that came over and made short notice of the harvest time.  We were able to bring in nuggets and cascades to add to their boil within just 2 hours.  A truly fresh "fresh hop" beer.  
Head Lookout Brewer Tanner Frizzell gets a bowl of our hops from Sara Gulotta
One happy moment!
I will tell you that I am really excited about tasting these beers in about three weeks and bringing them to our Hop Harvest Tour event on August 23.  We are going to have a great time at the farm for this years tour with lots of education about the art of growing hops, live music, and of course, samples of the beer that has been made fresh from our hops!  

Stay tuned for more info on this upcoming event and cheers!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chrysalis On A Stick And Milkweed

We just now have our first monarch butterfly chrysalises!  This is great news as I am starting to do my part in helping with the declining monarch population.  These chrysalises were from 4 monarchs that visited my farm in April more than likely returning from Mexico.  I have over 100 and am offering them for sale attached to a stick stand so you can watch the transformation yourself in the confines of your own home.  I call it a "Chrysalis On A Stick".

This is a great opportunity for self educators, summer camps, schools, and individuals to be able to see the transformation from a green chrysalis to a transparent shell where you can actually see the butterfly inside and, if you are patient enough, to watch the butterfly hatch out.  When the butterfly hatches out, you to can do a part in increasing the population by releasing them.

We don't really want to ship these guys out, so coming by the farm is the only way to get one of these at a cost of $8 each.  Give us a call and set up a time to pick them up.  All the info is on our

And if it is milkweed you want, we also sell some here at the farm.  Plant it and do a big part in providing a food source for the monarch caterpillar insuring that the monarch migration may not disappear.

See you soon!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hop Harvest Is Near

It is getting close to our hop harvest and we have three breweries that would like to try our hops this year. We always guarantee that our hops will be in the boil in less than 8 hours from the vine  if it is done locally.  Watch our promo here:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Help Save The Monarchs

Monarch Cats On The Move
Young one week old Monarch caterpillars
Our first batch of Monarch caterpillars are eating their way through tons of milkweed right now and are for sale at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm, call us.  These cats were hatched from just a few monarch butterflies that were on the farm in early April.  These Monarchs were from the few returning butterflies coming up from Mexico this year and were the original butterflies that flew down to Mexico last year from the northern US and southern Canada.

In case you weren't aware, the migrating Monarchs are in grave danger of becoming an extinct event.  The numbers are incredibly low this year.  In fact, less than half of last years numbers and down 75% or more than just 4 years ago.  Much of this it is generally accepted due to Monsanto's generically modified "roundup" ready crops and the over spraying of herbicides killing thousands of acres of milkweed, the only plant that the Monarch caterpillars eat.
Female Monarch on Buddleia
One way you can help save the monarch migration is to plant milkweed!  As much of it as you can.  We generally have seed here, but a we had mice get into our stock and clean us out.  Check with your favorite nursery to see if they have one or two of the many species of milkweed (Asclepias).  And, of course another way is to purchase one of our caterpillars and follow it as it changes into a chrysalis and finally hatching into your very own Monarch.

If you are interested in getting your own caterpillar, you must have access to milkweed to feed it.  They require fresh leaves every day.  Call us for more info.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blueberry Pruning

I pruned my blueberries this year in the spring of 2014 for the first time.  The changes were noted immediately in my production for this year. 
I attended a workshop put on by Dr. Bill Cline with NC State University at Janet Peterson's blueberry farm, Cloud 9 in Fairview NC.  Right after the workshop, while under the freshness of how to properly prune, I got out my shears and started to work on my crop.
The results are evident.  My blueberries were bigger and the plants not affected by disease were definitely better looking.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the root fungus that is attacking some of my plants.  So I pruned those plants by pulling them out of the ground and closing off the area where they grew.
Lots of space for sunlight

Large size berries need fresh stems to produce on

Downy Mildew Is Present

Unfortunately, the reality of growing hops in the East means that there will be a good chance of those plants getting devastating disease problems.  Here at the farm, we definitely have downy mildew and some root fungus problems that are killing my plants after 8 years.

I will have to start treatments as soon as possible and get rid of all signs of the disease.  Also, I will not be able to plant any more hops in the area where my root disease problems are.

Most of these problems were accelerated from last years six and one half feet of rain!  Hops hate "wet feet" and I had plenty of water here last year.  In fact, in the month of July 2013, we had 14 inches of rain during the first 14 days of that month.  50 of my blueberry plants also suffered a root fungus death that cannot be cured. 

Note in the photo's below what these problems look like.  Just bear in mind that the best practices are to use drip irrigation, have raised beds, and stay on top of your pruning and weeding.  The bottom line is that your production and plant growth will be severely affected, and if not taking care of, will kill your plants.
Downy mildew "spike"
 Note the small leaves and short space between the leaves on the vine, this one indicator of the presence of downy mildew.  It is important to get rid of these as soon as you find them and to keep your tools clean between working on different plants.
Blueberry rows showing lack of plants and stunted plants
The above picture shows the areas affected by the root fungus from the mycelium of a puffball mushroom that will kill the root system of the blueberry plants.  There is no cure and the area can't be used to plant in again.

Hops Growing Workshop And Tour Schedule change

Hey folks, just to let you know there will be no general tours at the farm on Saturday June,14 or on Saturday June 21.  The general tour will be held on Sunday at 2 PM  June 15.

On June 22nd, we will be putting on our annual Hops Growing Workshop.  Here you will learn everything you might want to know about growing hops from the site selection to the packaging of the final hop product.

The tour will begin at 1 PM at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm near Black Mountain, NC.  Expect to receive lots of information and gets hands on experience with very detailed questions answered.  Be sure to bring a pen and paper as there will be an abundance of details exchanged!

The cost is $15/person.  Buy your tickets now to reserve your spot using PayPal.
Call 828-664-1166 for more information.
Purchase tickets here

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last Chance to Really Learn About Growing Hops

Yep, tomorrow you can learn about the truth of growing hops south of the Mason Dixon Line.  We are offering our last special hops tour in conjunction with NC Beer Month.  You will have an in depth tour, culminating in a sample of beer from on of our buyers, Lookout Brewing ( where the tour will follow), a free hop plant, and more back up info in your endeavors.  It starts at 2 pm.

Hawaiian Tour At The Farm

We were honored to welcome the Agricultural Leadership Program Class from Hawaii to the farm last week.  The Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i provides leadership development opportunities for those working in Hawaii's agriculture, natural resource management and rural communities. 
I met folks that were doing everything from farming fish in the ocean to breeding new plants as well as University professors.  There were 16 of them that have been on a week long tour of North Carolina visiting farms and agriculture adventures from the coast to the mountains where my farm was targeted as an example of sustainability and history. 
A group shot of the crew

I got to show them all about the farm from our latest addition to alternative energy, the ram pump

The ram pump is able to pump water 3 times higher than the source and uses not electricity, gas, or other conventional energy source other than gravity.
and also let them see out total solar array, solar hot water system, gravity feed drip irrigation, and our composting two room toilet facility.

We look at our hop plants just out of the ground as well.  Hops never, ever, fail to get attention.
I have one last thing to say, aloha, but bring your jackets!