Food Business Almanac: How to source local products

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources that agribusiness owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at

There is no denying consumer demand for local products, but how can you make sure that your product is a true North Carolina product from ingredients to the store shelf? We have three resources available for you on the department’s website.

The North Carolina Grower/Shipper Directory gives you a listing of local growers who have the capacity to ship large quantities of agricultural products to your processing facility. For smaller quantities of produce, you can turn to for a directory of statewide roadside stands and farmers markets. There’s also the North Carolina General Store, which has a listing of fresh products as well as processed ingredients for your food product.

In addition to these directories, the department also offers information on locating shared-use kitchens, establishing your own certified home-based kitchen, or becoming a certified meat processing facility.

Grocery stores in the state understand demand for local products, which presents a great opportunity for your food business. For more information on how to get your product into North Carolina stores, contact one of our retail marketing specialists.

Yours to success!


News Roundup: Nov. 8-14

newsroundup11Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  •  “Work doesn’t end for apple farmers when fruit is picked,” Hendersonville Times-News: As Henderson County’s apple farmers wrap up a mixed season this month, their work is far from over. Now comes the pruning, raking, preventative spraying and repairs that lay the foundation for next year’s crop. With the exception of Sky Top Orchard outside Flat Rock, most u-pick and pre-picked operations have closed for the season, including Grandad’s Apples and J.H. Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard. Meanwhile, commercial growers are picking the dregs of their late-season varieties, including a few Pink Ladies and Gold Rushes. But even when those are gone, farmers don’t have time to rest on their laurels. “A lot of people will be raking orchards and as these apples are in cold storage, we’ll start hauling apples to shipping facilities,” said farmer Kenny Barnwell. “Then you have to repair all your boxes, and by the time you’re done pruning, it’s time to start spraying again.” …
  • “Organic Strawberry Research Gets $200,000 Boost From Walmart,” Growing Produce: With an additional $200,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, scientists from the University of Florida and North Carolina A&T University are expanding grower engagement in organic strawberry research. While the focus of the 2013-2014 work was broad and exploratory, a key component of this year’s research will be to test the best aspects of the organic strawberry production system under farm conditions and with grower management. Growers at three farms in North Central Florida are assessing two cover crops and three commercial strawberry cultivars that performed well in last year’s Phase I trials. Grower evaluations of the Phase I research resulted in suggestions that researchers assess cover crop combinations as well as a cover crop that could produce a marketable product. In Phase II, scientists will evaluate the on-station and on-farm research for seasonal variability in market yield, nutrient-use efficiency, consumer acceptance and response to postharvest handling and storage. …
  • “Demand pushes Pittsboro’s Farm Boy Farms to double in size,” Triangle Business Journal: Farm Boy Farms of Pittsboro – a local provider of barley, wheat and malt for craft beer – is doubling in size, which means more local ingredients could work their way into local craft beer. In 2012, the state had 85 breweries, it had 123 breweries by 2013 and currently has 146 breweries – most of which are craft breweries. Plenty of craft brewers believe part of creating a quality product means sourcing ingredients locally, driving the need for farm owner Dan Gridley to expand. “We are doubling our American Malting Barley Association-recommended two-row barley acreage from 25 acres to 50 acres,” says Gridley. “We are also adding five acres of rye and networking with other area growers to provide us wheat.” According to Gridley, more than half of next year’s hops crop has been contracted with existing and soon-to-be established Triangle breweries, but he isn’t disclosing which ones. …
  • “Women In The Meat Business,” WUNC: As the demand for local food and farm-to-table restaurants rises, the American agriculture and food production industries are expanding. Burgeoning local food systems have opened up opportunities for more women to own and operate businesses throughout the supply chain, especially in the meat industry. Farms and ranches operated by women have more than doubled in the last 30 years, and more women are also entering the fields of livestock production, meat processing, butchery and culinary arts. But succeeding in this new landscape presents a unique set of challenges. Host Frank Stasio talks to some of the women who recently gathered for the 2nd annual Women Working in the Meat Business Conference. …
  • “Farmers harmed by decline in nation’s public seed supply,” Agriview: A much-anticipated analysis of the state of the country’s plant and animal breeding infrastructure and seed supply was released recently, marking the first such analysis in more than 10 years. The proceedings from the Summit on Seeds and Breeds for 21st Century Agriculture were published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), a farmer-based non-profit organization located in Pittsboro, N.C., and member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). In the proceedings, RAFI and other key stakeholders within the agricultural research community express their increased concerns about farmers’ limited access to seed, the narrowing of our country’s agricultural plant and animal genetic diversity, consolidation within the seed industry, the decline in public cultivar development, and how these trends are impacting farmers’ abilities to confront the unprecedented challenges of climate change and global food security. …
  • “WNC Farmers Market to develop 20-year master plan,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The WNC Farmers Market is asking locals to tell it what to do. The results, according to a recent press release, will be used to help develop a 20-year master plan for the market, a task that has been outsourced to Market Ventures in Portland, Maine. The master plan will propose physical upgrades to the market’s buildings, changes to operating hours, new programs and facilities for education and events. The Brevard Road market, open since 1977, is a hot spot for tourists, and ranks among the top 10 places to shop in Asheville on Tripadvisor. Even so, the market is searching for ways to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded farmers market landscape, citing the “changing needs of Western North Carolina.” Indeed, a search of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s website for “tailgate markets” turns up more than 100 results for the Western North Carolina area. …
  • “James Butler: North Carolina’s first Extension agent, hired 107 years ago this month,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina’s first county Extension agent was James A. Butler, who, according to the best information available, was hired Nov. 18, 1907 to work with farmers in Iredell County. Butler was paid by funds from the John D. Rockefeller-supported General Education Board to expand pioneering educational efforts, called demonstrations, taking place under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on farms in several other Southern states. Within two days of being hired, Butler had arranged for local farmer J.F. Eagles of Statesville to host the first North Carolina farm demonstration. Eagles agreed to grow 2.5 acres of corn and 2 acres of cotton according to USDA recommendations so that Butler could demonstrate to other farmers how the recommendations increased crop yields – not just in theory or in a laboratory – but under actual real-world conditions. Eagles told others that the recommendations were key to rejuvenating the worn-out soils on his farm. “I don’t think I ever would have succeeded had it not been for the use of limestone and clover,” he said. …
  • “NCDA’s Soil Testing Fee In Effect Soon,” Southern Farm Network: For the second year, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agronomic Division will have a fee for soil testing during the winter and early spring months. David Hardy, Chief of Soil testing for the Agronomic Division for NCDA: “The fee was put in place by the General Assembly to encourage people to send in soil samples at other times of the year, not just fall and winter, and to help defray the cost of overtime and temporary help during the lab’s busy soil testing season.” Hardy says the fee structure seems to have helped with the back log and turnaround time: “Farming is the first thing you think of when you think of soil testing, but soil testing is available for anyone in the state with dirt under their feet.” …




Got to Be NC Competition Dining: Chef Brian Williams

G2BNC Competition Dining1Once a month we highlight a chef and a recipe from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Chef Brian Williams of Upstream in Charlotte. Williams made it to the semifinals of this year’s Fire in the City Competition. He describes his cooking style as Asian Fusion.

The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The chef’s menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each of three courses, appetizer, entree and dessert. The competition is held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.

Below is a recipe from Chef Williams using fresh-caught grouper from Charlotte Fish Company. Watch Chef William’s prepare the recipe on The Daily Special segment of Good Day Carolinas on Fox 46 in Charlotte.

Tim Griner’s Pan Roasted Grouperwith scarlet queen turnip & breakfast radish salad, shishito peppers, okra, forbidden rice, ginger vinaigrette


  • 6 ( 6 ounce) grouper filets
  • 6 scarlet queen turnips – shaved thin
  • 12 breakfast radishes – shaved thin
  • 2 cups black forbidden rice
  • 1/2 pound local okra – cut lengthwise
  • 12 shishito peppers – small dice
  • 1/2 cup pickled ginger with liquid
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 scallion – minced, green part only


For the rice:

  • Combine the black rice with 2 1/2 cups water
  • Bring rice to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Remove from heat, add the scallion and fluff with a fork


For the grouper:

  • Heat a heavy cast iron pan medium/ high heat
  • Season the grouper with salt and pepper
  • Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan then add the grouper filets
  • Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes


For the okra:

  • Wipe out the grouper pan with wet paper towels
  • Return to medium/ high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Add the shishito peppers and sauté for 30 seconds
  • Add the okra and sauté for four minutes until tender, season with salt and pepper


For the salad:

  • Combine the turnips, radish, pickled ginger with liquid and sesame oil


To assemble:

  • Divide the rice into 6 bowls, place the okra around the rice
  • Set the fish on top of the rice, place the salad on top of the fish

The Final Fire competition starts Nov. 19 at the Renaissance Hotel at North Hills in Raleigh. The first pits Fire on the Dock winner Antine Murray from the Cape Fear Country Club in Wilmington against Fire on the Rock winner Michelle Bailey of Season’s at Highland Lake in Flat Rock.  Tickets are still available.



Today’s Topic: Farmland preservation grants available

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

County governments and nonprofit groups interested in farmland preservation can apply for funding assistance from the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.

The application deadline is Dec. 19. This year’s funding includes state appropriations, plus $1 million for military base and training buffers. The military buffer funds are from the 2014-2015 budget and must be contracted and encumbered by June 15, 2015. The general appropriations are anticipated in the 2015-2017 budget.

Grants can help in the purchase of conservation easements on lands used for agricultural production. They also can be used to support public and private enterprise programs that promote profitable activities in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. In addition, grants can help with the cost of developing farmland protection plans. Over half of North Carolina’s counties have approved farmland protection plans.

Applications and guidelines for the current funding cycle are available online at If you have questions, call 919-707-3071.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this grant program.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


News Roundup: Nov. 1-7

News Roundup logoEach week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “New State Veterinarian Named for North Carolina,” Southern Farm Network: Dr. Douglas Meckes of Apex, NC, has been named the new state veterinarian replacing Dr. David Marshall who retired in August. Dr. Meckes comes to NCDA from the US Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Meckes received his undergraduate degree and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University. He spent 30 years in private practice in Apex on both large and small animals before making a move to Washington, D.C., to serve as a congressional fellow for Sen. Chuck Hagel. Meckes will oversee the 130-employee Veterinary Division, which includes four sections: Animal Health Programs, Poultry Health Programs, Animal Welfare and the Diagnostic Laboratory System. Meckes’ first day on the job was Monday. …
  • Money from dirt: NC soil lab uses fee to help spread the load,” News & Observer: The state Department of Agriculture established a new fee last year aimed as much at altering behavior as at raising money for the state. It appears to have worked. Since the 1940s, North Carolina farmers and gardeners have been sending soil samples to a state lab in Raleigh for testing to determine if and where to add lime and fertilizer. Until last fall, the tests were free year-around.  …
  • “NC State Plant Science Research Complex working toward a 2020 opening,” Southeast Farm Press: If all goes as planned, by the year 2020 students at North Carolina State University will be working alongside leading researchers in the plant sciences in a first-of-its-kind facility on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. The North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative is a brand new way of approaching the plant sciences because it will be interdisciplinary, where researchers across disciplines, from soil scientists to plant breeders to engineers to biochemists to economists, will work together in a collaborative way.  …
  • “Protecting farmland topic of workshop,” Burlington Times-News: Protecting local agricultural lands is the subject of a workshop Wednesday in Greensboro. The workshop is among six the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund is holding across the state in cooperation with the state office of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. The workshops are highly recommended for all past, present or potential recipients of federal and/or state grants associated with farmland preservation. County governments and nonprofits pursuing farmland preservation projects have until Dec. 19 to apply for the grants. …
  • “Ag Summary: Peak Season for Soil Samples Closing In,” Southern Farm Network: Now that November is here, we are in the short rows of free soil sampling through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agronomics Lab. Peak season for soil testing begins on November 26th, and runs through March 31st, 2015. During this period samples are $4 each. To avoid the fee, soil samples have to be on the loading dock by 6:00 pm on Tuesday, November 25th. To obtain a soil sampling kit, visit your local extension office, or contact your area agronomist. Soil sampling through NCDA’s agronomics lab is available for all North Carolina landowners and homeowners. …
  • “Bertie County company takes peanuts worldwide,” The Washington Times:  A dented and charred popcorn popper sitting on the crowded top shelf of the main office of Powell & Stokes farm supply is something of a shrine. The late Jack Powell Sr. began about 40 years ago soaking large peanuts in boiling water, then frying them in oil in the popper. The peanuts blistered into a tasty, crunchy snack. He offered samples to farmers coming to the shop.”People said they were so good, ‘Why don’t you sell them?’ ” said Jack Sr.’s grandson, Jonathan Powell III. So they did. …
  • “Locals show livestock during sale,” Jacksonville Daily News: A Carteret County teen and an Onslow County teen showed champion livestock during this year’s state fair. The junior livestock grand and reserve grand champion steers, barrows, lambs, goats and turkeys were recently auctioned in the Sale of Champions during the N.C. State Fair. The reserve grand champion barrow was shown by Travis Cox, 8, of Richlands. Hog Slat Inc. and Neese’s Country Sausage purchased the barrow for $8,000. The reserve grand champion steer was shown by Madison Boyd, 13, of Pinetown (Beaufort). Harris Teeter purchased the steer for $17,200. …
  • “The Veggie Wagon Expands Culinary Offerings,” Wilmington Business Journal: What began as little more than a roadside stand with fresh produce brought in from a handful of farms in Columbus County has grown into a full-scale farm-to-table enterprise. Max and April Sussman set out five years ago to help bring local produce to residents and visitors on Pleasure Island. Today, as owners of Veggie Wagon, they’re not only providing locally grown produce in their store as well as through their weekly delivery service, but they’ve created a whole line of products around what’s available here in eastern North Carolina. “There was really a lack of access here on the island to produce grown within our region,” Max Sussman said. …
  • For these N.C. farm owners, making cheese is just kid stuff,” Washington Post: The burgeoning local food movement usually seeks to bring the farm to the table. But the Goat Lady Dairy brings the table to the farm. Several times a month, for most of the year, the North Carolina dairy opens its barn doors to about 50 people who register in advance for a $60-per-person “dining adventure”: a five-course, locally inspired meal showcasing the dairy’s multiple varieties of goat cheese. We signed up partly for the food and partly for the goats, and neither disappointed.  …






Flavor, NC: Sunburst Trout Farm

Flavor NC logoTwice a month we feature local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we review episode five of the first season in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Sunburst Trout Farm in Haywood County.

North Carolina is home to more than 3,000 miles of trout streams. Many of these are found in Haywood County, home of Sunburst Trout Farm. Since 1948, this family-owned company has been one of the leading suppliers of farm-raised rainbow trout on the East Coast.

In this episode, Lisa shows viewers the process of harvesting and processing farm-raised rainbow trout. Charles Hudson, research and development chef for Sunburst Trout Farms, also shares three ways to cook trout and a few easy recipes to try at home.

Below is Chef Hudson’s recipe for Quick, Easy and Lusty Trout – one of his daughter’s favorite recipes.

  • 4 Sunburst Trout Fillets
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons Lusty Monk Mustard (or other whole grain mustard)


  • Preheat your oven to broil.
  • Place trout fillets on nonstick baking pan.
  • Sprinkle trout fillets with lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle trout fillets evenly with seasonings.
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of mustard evenly on each trout fillet.
  • Place under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Serves 4.

Visit for more information about N.C. Aquaculture.


Don’t Move Firewood backpacks a hit at State Fair

6,000 Don't Move Firewood backpacks were given away by teh NC Forest Service at the 2014 State Fair.

6,000 Don’t Move Firewood backpacks were given away by the N.C. Forest Service at the 2014 State Fair.

Thousands of visitors to the N.C. State Fair got a new accessory and the chance to spread word about the N.C. Forest Service Don’t Move Firewood campaign. Each visitor to the Fair Forest had the opportunity to answer a 10-question quiz in the Forest Service’s tent. A successful quiz netted participants a red drawstring backpack with the “don’t move firewood” message on the back.

“As folks return home and use the backpack, they are spreading our don’t move firewood message,” said Sara Thompson, N.C. Forest Service forest health specialist.  “In some cases these bags will travel across the state, much like firewood does. The difference is there are no invasive pests in the bags like there could be with firewood.”

Don’t Move Firewood is a national campaign from The Nature Conservancy. It’s primary goal is to spread the word that moving firewood could transport invasive tree-killing pests to new areas. Citizens are encouraged to buy or gather firewood local to where they will burn it.

Fairgoers said they enjoyed the interactive display and they learned a lot. Many commented that they would have never guessed that firewood movement could have such consequences to our native forests. The N.C. Forest Service gave out about 6,000 backpacks during 10 days of the State Fair.  The only requirement? Recipients not use the backpacks to move firewood.


Today’s Topic: It’s North Carolina Farm to School Week

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

It’s North Carolina Farm to School Week, and the NCDA&CS is asking schools across the state to celebrate this program, which helps put fresh North Carolina produce in schools.

The NCDA&CS Marketing and Food Distribution divisions coordinate the program, but Commissioner Troxler says they couldn’t do it without the support of the school nutrition directors who work hard to make sure kids have access to healthy and nutritious meals.

Eighty-three of the state’s 115 school systems participated in Farm to School during the 2013-14 school year, and they purchased over $1.3 million worth of North Carolina food.

The Commissioner says there are several ways schools can celebrate Farm to School Week. These include featuring N.C. products on the menu; inviting parents and school board members to enjoy N.C. products in the cafeteria; and teaching students about the crops grown in North Carolina and their nutritional value.

The N.C. Farm to School Cooperative is offering prizes to schools for their work to promote N.C. Farm to School. For more information, plus lesson plans, classroom activities and other resources, click here.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss North Carolina Farm to School Week.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


News Roundup: Oct. 25-31

News Roundup logoEach week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “Onslow County Beekeepers Association Announces New Apprenticeship Program” Jacksonville Daily News: In 1977 the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Honey Bee and Honey Act. The General Assembly declared “it is in the public interest to promote and protect the bee and honey industry in North Carolina and to authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture and the Board of Agriculture to perform services and conduct activities to promote, improve, and enhance the bee and honey industry in North Carolina particularly relative to small beekeepers …” One Onslow County group is doing its part to carry out the North Carolina Honey Bee and Honey Act. …
  • “Tobacco growers say “no” on child labor,” Southeast Farm Press: Child labor on tobacco farms became quite a controversial issue in 2014, and two organizations of tobacco farmers took a stand objecting to any use of hired child labor in leaf production. At the beginning of October, the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina went on record as opposing hired child labor on U.S. tobacco farms. “While we do not believe that tobacco fields are inherently unsafe for qualified persons who receive proper training and personal protective equipment, we recognize that there are particular risks associated with working in tobacco,” says the TGANC resolution. …
  • Farming In NC: Success With Organic Tobacco (Collards On The Side): WUNC: The federal tobacco buyout program has officially ended. The last of the tobacco buyout checks are being distributed this month. The program, officially known as the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP), was started to help farmers transition from the Depression-era quota system to the free market. North Carolina has fared pretty well during the transition: Farmers and producers in the state collected more than one-third of the $9.6 billion in buyout payments. There is more tobacco grown in the state today than when the tobacco buy-out program began. Many farmers simply grew more as the price-per-acre went down. But Stanley Hughes didn’t do that. Instead, he reinvented himself as an organic tobacco farmer in order to survive the volatile industry. …
  • “NC Soybean Producers to Host Food Writers & Bloggers,” Southern Farm Network:  The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association is hosting a dinner later this week to once again address farming issues, and answer questions about where food comes from and how it’s raised. Charles Hall, Executive Director of the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association: “We have had a strategy to address the good questions consumers have about where there food comes from and about the farmers who grow it. One way we know that their questions are addressed are through people that publish blogs and other content that are putting a lot of answers out there. We thought that putting together an event that would bring these people together would be beneficial to have conversations and talk about what farmers do and how they raise animals and produce food.” …
  • “See a Farm Convert Pig Poop to Electricity,” National Geographic: Hog farming is a lucrative business in Harnett County, North Carolina. It’s also a major source of water pollution and greenhouse gases. Now a few concerned hog farmers are exploring solutions to reduce the environmental impact of their farm waste and even produce electricity. …
  • “Officials tour Piedmont Research facility,” Salisbury Post: The state and nation’s top Farm Service Agency officials took a field trip Monday to the Piedmont Research Station, touring the facility and even riding a self-driving tractor. Along with a handful of local farmers, Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini and N.C. Farm Service Agency Executive Director Bob Etheridge toured a portion of the 1,054-acre facility, taking a particular interest in a small tract of blueberries, which are unusual to the Piedmont Region. ” …
  • “Belly Up To The Bar And Meet NC Brewers,” WUNC: From the mountains to the coast, new breweries are opening. The national Brewer’s Association put the economic impact of craft beer in the state at more than $791 million dollars in 2012. There are 110 breweries across the state and the industry supports 10,000 jobs. Host Frank Stasio talks with Margo Knight-Metzger, executive director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and WUNC reporter Jeff Tiberii about the state of brewing. …
  • “Sweet potato dehydration plant opens in North Carolina,” Potato Business: Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC held its opening on September 30th, manufacturing facility in Pitt County, North Carolina. The company will dehydrate sweet potatoes to be used in various pet food products for the global market. Natural Blend will be managed by Ham Produce Company, Inc., which operates one of the largest farming operations of sweet potatoes in North Carolina. More than 50 jobs will be created and the investment in the project hit over USD 16 million. Ham Produce, headquartered in Snow Hill, NC, purchased the Collins & Aikman building in 2009 for the storage of sweet potatoes. Excess capacity spanning approximately 27,000 square feet has been renovated for Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration’s operation. …
  • “NC State Fair attendance rises slightly this year,” News & Observer: More than 97,600 people attended the N.C. State Fair on Sunday, bringing the total attendance for the 11-day fair to 929,748. That’s a little more than 2,000 more than last year, despite near perfect weather for the entire run. State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Sunday he was a little perplexed why attendance wasn’t better, but said judging from the comments he had heard and other feedback the fair was “absolutely wonderful.” The fair got off to a strong start last weekend, with attendance on the first three days exceeding the average for the previous five years. But in each of the remaining eight days, attendance lagged the five-year average. Saturday was the busiest day at the fair, at 126,629. The record for that day was 151,647 in 2010, when the fair drew almost 1.1 million people. …
  • “HCC awarded grant to help forest management tech students,” Waynesville Mountaineer: Haywood Community College was recently awarded a TVA Ag and Forestry Fund Grant through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The grant, Improving Technological Innovation of Forest Management Students, will fund $13,800 of hardware and software that will facilitate learning experiences and employability opportunities for the college’s forest management technology students. With four new hand-held GPS units, the forestry students will keep current with advances in forest inventory and geospatial technology and further their knowledge base. Through this state-of-the-art forest inventory technology, students will use these skills throughout their time at HCC and will rely on it to complete their final capstone project of preparing an entire forest management plan. …

In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: October Recipe Roundup

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their Got to Be Good Cookin’ segment using ingredients grown and available right here in North Carolina. This month recipes feature great fall flavors like pumpkins, purple potatoes, country ham and turnip greens.


Honey Roasted Vegetables features North Carolina purple potatoes, carrots, parsnip, butternut squash, honey and thyme. Brian notes that this recipe is serving up a side of fall. Lisa suggests trying the honey glaze on a number of combinations of root vegetables.


1⁄4 pound purple or white potatoes (diced)
1⁄4 pound baby carrots (peeled)
1⁄4 pound parsnip (peeled and diced)
1⁄4 pound butternut squash (diced)
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter (divided)
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chicken broth or water
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)


Place roasting pan in oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stir together olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan. Add the potatoes, carrots, parsnip, squash, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot; saute 1 minute. Then add honey and chicken broth, bringing to a boil and stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, cook 5 minutes or until mixture is syrupy.

Drizzle over the vegetable mixture and cook for 10-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with thyme.

The next recipe is for a pumpkin pound cake and was shared by Betty Thompson from Nash County at the N.C. State Fair. Lisa notes that it is easy to make and hard to eat just one piece. It features fresh N.C. eggs, pumpkin and pecans.


Pound Cake:
1 yellow cake mix
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup water
4 eggs
1⁄2 cup oil
16 ounces pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
3⁄4 cup chopped pecans

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pound cake instructions: Mix ingredients until well combined and bake in a greased Bundt pan at 350 degrees for 50 – 60 minutes.

Icing instructions: Beat with a mixer until smooth and spread on cooled cake.

The next recipe, also including seasonal favorite pumpkin, is a pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce that Brian calls “perfectly spiced.” Lisa suggest serving the dessert warm, with whipped cream.  The recipe below includes instructions for using fresh pumpkins in your recipes.


4 cups white bread (cut into cubes)
4 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 1⁄2 cups milk
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons cold butter (cut into pieces)

Caramel sauce:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄4 cup whipping cream
1⁄4 cup honey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Dry bread cubes on a cookie sheet in oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Place bread cubes in pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, pumpkin, sugar, salt, rum or brandy, and spices. Pour over bread cubes and let sit for 10 minutes until bread is fully soaked. Dab butter over top and bake for 40-50 minutes. Serve with caramel sauce.

A medium–sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1 ½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.

· Baking method: cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem, seeds and stringy pulp. In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 1 ½ hours or until tender. Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it.

Caramel Sauce

Bring ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes before serving.

The final recipe for the month is a turnip green stew that includes county ham, onion, red and green pepper.  Lisa suggests serving with corn bread or a biscuit.


2 cups country ham (chopped)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)
3 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
16 ounces turnip greens (fresh or frozen)
2 cans (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup onion (diced)
1 cup red pepper (diced)
1 cup green bell pepper (diced)
1 cup celery (diced)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper


Saute ham in hot oil (oil is optional) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Prepare turnip greens by removing the stem and chopping. Rinse well and drain. Add broth and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Add water to just cover the vegetables if needed. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes.