News Roundup: Aug 30 – Sept. 5

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.

  • “Fish food: Aquaponics offers full-circle farming,” Smoky Mountain News: Tucked away along a squirrely offshoot of Jonathan Creek Road, Dennis “Bear” Forsythe’s 15-by-15-foot greenhouse is like his own private Eden. The small outbuilding in rural Haywood County holds 500 plants representing 58 species, everything from pineapple to pepper. “I just love doing it,” Forsythe said. “You have running water and it’s soothing, it’s relaxing. You come out here and you say, ‘I grew everything here from seed.’” The running water is a bit of an anomaly compared to most greenhouses. So is the complete absence of any soil. Instead of soil, the plants get their nutrients from the fish swimming in two separate fish tanks inside the building. Specifically, from their waste. It’s a method of agriculture that’s been gaining traction over the last decade or so, a method known as aquaponics. …
  • “N.C. Mountain State Fair opens,” Asheville Citizen-Times: In its 21-year history, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair has followed an established course. But why should it change? Last year’s fair pulled a record crowd of 191,596, and if the weather holds out, the 2014 edition should equal that. The fair, Sept. 5-14 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, is a feast for the senses. The fairgrounds are lit by colorful carnival rides. Booming pop music pours from speakers. Games line the midway. Vendors sell an assortment of tasty foods (this is no place to be on a diet). The Mountain Heritage Stage has live bluegrass, mountain music and dance. Agricultural and livestock exhibits are plentiful. Side show entertainment ranges from stilt puppets to sea lions and racing pigs. …
  • “Ag Summary: September is Wine & Grape Month,” Southern Farm Network: September is wine and grape month in the Tar Heel State. One indicator of the industry’s maturity is the federal government’s recent designation of a fourth American Viticultural Area in the state. North Carolina’s grape-growing history dates to the late 1500s, when Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers first noticed wild scuppernongs on Roanoke Island. North Carolina boasts more than 400 commercial grape growers. Muscadines are grown mainly in the East, while European-style vinifera grapes are grown in the West and Piedmont. While many of the grapes are used to make wines and other specialty products, there is also a significant fresh market for the fall fruit. In September and October, shoppers can find fresh, native muscadine grapes at farmers markets and roadside stands. …
  • “Forest service seeks tree nuts and seeds,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: The N.C. Forest Service office in Wilkesboro is seeking the public’s assistance in collecting acorns, hickory nuts and other nuts and seeds of trees to produce seedlings at the state nursery in Goldsboro. Michael Crouse, assistant county ranger with the forest service in Wilkes, said Thursday that he and other forest service personnel will gather tree nuts and seeds on private property with owner permission. The forest service doesn’t pay for what it collects. Crouse, seedling collector for Wilkes, said forest service personnel sometimes use non-motorized devices with wire mesh baskets, pushing them along on the ground, to collect nuts. He said church lawns often are among the best places to gather tree nuts. He said removing them also helps avoid accidents. Crouse noted that trees produce considerably more nuts and seeds some years than others. …
  •  “Couple’s dream turns into thriving cheese business,” Greensboro News & Record: Harold and Carol Penick were college students on their first date when they discovered that they shared a dream of building a farm.And now, nearly 40 years later, the two Auburn University graduates have not only worked to bring their dream to fruition, but also have launched a thriving goat cheese business. “We use a really old style of cheese making, so it’s different than anything else around,” their daughter, Jesse Penick, said. “It’s extremely creamy, very mild and very smooth — more like cream cheese — and people just can’t seem to get enough of it.” Situated on what used to be a tobacco farm, the 20-acre operation just north of Kernersville was nothing more than a meadow when the Penicks bought it three years ago, which inspired the farm’s name: Once Upon a Meadow. …
  • “LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Elected leaders ignore farmers’ biggest concern,” Hendersonville Lightning: By most accounts, Henderson County’s 2014 apple crop is high in quality and lower in quantity. A shorter crop is not necessarily a bad thing. Last year, despite record rainfall that ruined most of the sweet corn and produce in the French Broad Valley, apple farmers harvested a bumper crop. And not just in Henderson County. It was a big year up and down the East Coast. When all the apples came off the trees, the market was flooded with cheap fruit. “We had two extreme variables last year,” recalled Edneyville grower Jerred Nix. “We had 45-cent Galas early and a half-a-cent juice at the end of the year.” …
  • “Muscadines on the rise,” Wilmington Star News: It’s no secret that chefs, diners and home cooks have all embraced the farm-to-table and local food movements. And that trend may be just the boost that’s needed for one North Carolina agricultural product that’s more used to being the butt of a joke than served with a cloth napkin. “Some restaurants, a lot more lately, have gone to serving and cooking with muscadine wines, a lot more than five years ago,” said Jonathan Fussell, who owns the Duplin Winery with his brother David. “Our wines used to be one or two out of a hundred. Now it’s more like 15 to 20.” Fussell’s account is backed up by recent data tabulated by the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association. “Over the past five years, the number of muscadine grape growers has increased exponentially,” said organization spokeswoman Ashley Graham Phipps. “People want to grow them for personal pleasure, and most of our growers have seen an increase in food use.” …
  • “Looper numbers gaining in N.C. soybeans,” Southeast Farm Press: Remember that the threshold for soybean loopers (and all defoliating pests) is 15 percent defoliation throughout the canopy (thresholds and defoliation guide here). Loopers generally defoliate from the bottom of the canopy up so peel back those plants when you scout. Looper numbers have really picked up in soybeans. Loopers are migratory pests that sometimes show up late season and eat leaves, but not pods or seeds. Remember that the threshold for soybean loopers (and all defoliating pests) is 15 percent defoliation throughout the canopy (thresholds and defoliation guide here). Loopers generally defoliate from the bottom of the canopy up so peel back those plants when you scout. …



Farmers markets offer apples, grapes and more this September

September offers a great opportunity to enjoy both late-summer and early-fall produce at local farmers markets. The state-operated farmers markets in Asheville, Charlotte, Colfax and Raleigh offer a large selection of fresh produce for school lunches, meats and cheeses for tailgating, and wines and specialty products made in North Carolina. You can also find flowers, trees and shrubs for your fall plantings. Many markets have events planned to celebrate Wine and Grape Month, in honor of the state’s fast-growing wine industry.  Here are all the events taking place at our markets this month:

Enjoy free apple tastings Sept. 19 at the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville.

Enjoy free apple tastings Sept. 19 at the WNC Farmers Market in Asheville.

Grape Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
September is prime time for fresh-market muscadine grapes. Enjoy grapes, jellies and wine during this annual event Friday, Sept. 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Seafood Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
This is the first-ever Seafood Day at the market. Shoppers can purchase fresh seafood from the North Carolina coast and sample seafood dishes prepared by Chef Tom Armstrong of Vinnie’s Steakhouse in Raleigh. Seafood Day is Thursday, Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

12th Annual Taste Carolina Wine Festival, Robert. G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax
During the Taste Carolina Wine Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13,  guests will get to sample a variety of N.C. wines from noon to 6 p.m. All guests will receive a complimentary tasting glass and a program to help find their favorite wineries.

Apple Tasting, WNC Farmers Market, Asheville
Locally grown apples are in plentiful supply this time of year. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the many varieties available at the market on Friday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sweet Potato Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
North Carolina is the top sweet potato producer in the nation and the market will be celebrating on Thursday, Sept. 25. Market vendors will offer plenty of sweet potatoes for purchase. Shoppers can sample a sweet potato dessert from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

These are just some of the ways to celebrate the best of local agriculture this September. Be on the lookout for other promotions and special events later this year that will focus on fall products, including pumpkins, collards, pecans and Christmas trees.


Flavor, NC: Goat Lady Dairy

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 two of the first season in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Goat Lady Dairy in Climax.

“When you think cheese, most think cows,” said Lisa. “Maybe it’s time to think goats instead.” Goat Lady Dairy, located in the sprawling farmlands of Randolph County, makes about 40,000 pounds of cheese per year. The farm was one of the first in the state providing handmade goat cheese.

Jenny Tate and her brother, Steve Tate, bought a 200-year-old tobacco barn in the 1980s and opened Goat Lady Dairy in 1995. The 75-acre farm produces several varieties of goat cheese, operates a 15-acre community supported agriculture farm and, during several weekends of the year, offers farm tours and a slow-food dining experience. Dining is offered monthly in the spring and fall. Information and reservations are accepted online.

Following is a recipe provide by Steve Tate for Skillet Eggs with Kale and Italian Sausage.


  • 1/4 lb Italian sausage or Chorizo
  • 1 small onion, diced small or slivered
  • 1 bunch kale, separate stems from leaves, coarsely chop both
  • 6 eggs
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled Goat Lady Dairy Smoked Round, Farmers Cheese or both


Heat large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add crumbled sausage, onion and kale stems and cook, stirring often for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are starting to brown. Add kale and cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and pepper over the mixture and toss well. Reduce heat to medium and crack eggs, one at a time, at intervals over the sausage and kale mixture; cook briefly uncovered. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over pan contents and eggs; cover and cook until eggs are set, about 3 minutes.  Top with crumbled cheese. Serve immediately



Bladen Lakes State Forest, Elizabethtown Fire Department reach deal on land for training

Bladen Lakes State Forest

Bladen Lakes State Forest is known for its stands of longleaf pine trees. The N.C. Forest Service has reached an agreement that will allow the Elizabethtown Fire Department to use a portion of the forest to train firefighters.

The N.C. Forest Service and the Elizabethtown Fire Department have worked out a deal that will allow for a 10-acre fire-training facility to be built on Bladen Lakes State Forest.

The idea of putting a training facility at the forest came out of a monthly Bladen County Firefighters Association meeting a few years ago, said Elizabethtown Fire Department Deputy Chief Jamie Smith, the association’s chairman.

That meeting led Bladen County Board of Commissioners to ask if it was possible for the N.C. Forest Service to donate 10 to 15 acres of the forest, which encompasses about 32,800 acres. The forest staff offered 10 acres of property on the corner of Johnstontown Road and Bill Martin Trail.

“Currently, there is no public safety training facility in Bladen County,” Smith said. “The main factor here is our jobs entail us to make training scenarios as close to ‘real world’ as possible. With us having no place to conduct training of such nature it puts us years behind. … We must have a facility conducive to the jobs we do.”

Smith said the fire departments in Bladen County share props used in training, which limits their current training scenarios to one or two topics. A facility would allow them to combine a lot of topics together, enabling more realistic training. Their hope is to have a wide variety of training, ranging from basic firefighter to law enforcement, wildland fire training, incident management and a whole lot more.

Michael Chesnutt, supervisor of Bladen Lakes State Forest, said the objective was to locate the facility so as to minimize fragmentation of the forest’s wildlife habitats. The chosen location also minimizes the negative impacts to those who work at the forest, as well as hunters and others who enjoy activities there.

The property where the training facility will be located is in an area adjacent to Bladen Lakes Elementary School, which sits on property that formerly was part of the forest. The school is within a zone that is already designated as a no-hunting safety zone, so there would not be a need to designate another safety zone on the forest.

“This endeavor has been yet another example of cooperating with other agencies to fulfill some real needs,” Chesnutt said. “I am sure that one day I will see a nice training facility on this site, and that I will be proud to have played a part in it being there. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future the North Carolina Forest Service were to make use of the training facility.”

Smith says the objective for the facility is for it to be a training center for local fire, EMS, law enforcement as well as state and federal agencies such as the N.C. Forest Service, State Highway Patrol, State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation and any emergency service organization that wants to use it.

The timeframe for opening the facility isn’t known yet, Smith said. First, the fire department needs to work out the funding, which he believes will take about 1 ½ years.


Today’s Topic: NC trust fund awards 23 grants for farmland preservation, agricultural enterprise projects

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

The North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund recently awarded nearly $2.3 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and develop agricultural enterprises. The trust fund awarded 23 grants to counties, nonprofits and universities.

Funding resources included statewide general appropriations, money from the state’s settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority and, for the first time, funds from the military.

The trust fund collaborated with the military to support agriculture and agribusiness in areas of the state where military bases and training are located. TVA settlement funds were distributed to a 17-county region in Western North Carolina. And general appropriations supported projects across the state.

The 23 projects include conservation easements on farms and forests and helping counties develop farmland protection plans. The grants also support agricultural enterprise projects, such as studying the potential for value-added soybean processing in Eastern North Carolina.

From 1970 to 2010, North Carolina lost 6.6 million acres of farmland. In recent years, the state has been able to slow the rate of farmland loss considerably. But with North Carolina’s population continuing to grow, Commissioner Troxler says development pressure will continue to threaten farms and forests.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss these grants and why partnership between agriculture and the military is important.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


Grants awarded for hemlock restoration projects

Dead hemlocks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, N.C. Image: Ben Smith, Alliance for Saving Threatened Forests

Dead hemlocks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, N.C. Image: Ben Smith, Alliance for Saving Threatened Forests

WNC Communities announced three awards totaling $75,000 to help to restore North Carolina’s hemlock trees to long-term health. The awards program is a part of the new Hemlock Restoration Initiative, a cooperative effort launched by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and the NCDA&CS through a grant to WNC Communities.

Hemlocks across Western North Carolina are being decimated by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that sucks the sap of young twigs, which leads to tree death. Dead hemlocks can negatively affect nesting songbirds, trout populations, plant nurseries and landscapers, homeowners and tourism. The goal of the Hemlock Restoration Initiative is to work with and through current restoration initiatives to ensure that Eastern and Carolina hemlocks can resist the deadly hemlock woolly adelgid and survive to maturity on North Carolina’s public and private lands by 2025.

An advisory committee recommended three projects for funding. Together, these projects advance three complementary treatment and restoration methods: chemical treatment to stabilize hemlock trees until more lasting solutions are available, predator beetles to provide long-term adelgid control, and the search for native resistance or tolerance. The recipients are:

The three projects provide opportunities for hemlock restoration across all 17 Western North Carolina counties eligible for the award funds, and each project will also include efforts to educate the general public on how they can help support these restoration efforts.

These projects will each receive $25,000 in award funds, thanks to $50,000 allocated from the NCDA&CS Hemlock Restoration Initiative grant to WNC Communities, and $25,000 donated to WNC Communities by Brad Stanback, a Haywood County landowner and member of the advisory committee.

“We are very grateful to Commissioner Troxler, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and Mr. Stanback for making these funds available,” said Linda Lamp, executive director of WNC Communities. “We also sincerely appreciate the recipients, the other award applicants, the rest of the advisory committee, and countless other individuals, groups, and agencies who are offering help and hope for restoring our hemlocks to long-term health.”

“Hemlocks are important to fish, wildlife, homeowners, businesses and tourism,” Troxler said. “It’s going to take a team effort to protect and restore these trees, and we’re happy to support the search for potential solutions.”

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative Advisory Committee includes representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, NCDA&CS, the Alliance for Saving Threatened Forests, WNC Communities, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership. Each agency and group has provided considerable time and financial support for hemlock restoration activities throughout Western North Carolina.

-Information from WNC Communities


News Roundup: Aug. 23-29

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.

  • “Several Facets to Implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Southern Farm Network: At the Food Safety Forum this week, several speakers outlined the coming changes with the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is being implemented in stages, with the export segment coming next. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler explains why we need food safety legislation: “There is no doubt that we have the safest food supply in the world. So the question is why do we need this system. Think back to the tomato recall a few years ago, it did about $250 million in damage but it turned out it wasn’t even the tomatoes.” Troxler explains that the new food safety system will be an integrated system: “Out of this bad came a lot of good and that is an integrated food system. Integration between FDA and the states and the local food safety official to make it all work is needed.” …
  • “Worms, stink bugs prove to be problems for North Carolina farmers this year,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina State University Extension Entomologist Dominic Reisig says this year is shaping up to be one of the worst years ever for plant bugs in the state with heavier infestations of stink bugs, tobacco budworms and corn earworms being found in more fields. “I’ve been here for five years and it’s been as bad as I’ve ever seen. It’s probably as bad as we’ve seen for 30 years or longer,” Reisig says. “I expect plant bugs are a trend that’s here to stay so farmers are going to need to remain ever-vigilant in their scouting.” The insect infestations appear to be hitting the northeastern part of North Carolina the hardest. …
  • “Officials to hold public meeting on Sanderson Farms poultry processing center,” Fayetteville Observer: To help counter the opposition by some residents and landowners, local officials are holding a public meeting Tuesday to talk about a proposed chicken processing plant. The Fayetteville Regional Chamber is hosting the meeting on the floor of the Crown Coliseum with the support of the Fayetteville City Council and the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, whose members are eager to land the $113 million plant that would employ about 1,000 workers. …
  • “NCSF wants local fare,” Carteret County News-Times: A push to use more local seafood and a ticketed concert are two changes for the N.C. Seafood Festival this year. More than 65 festival sponsors, media, board members and affiliates met Thursday at Chef’s 105 to learn what’s new at this year’s event, set for Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 6. In its 28th year, the festival that packs downtown will feature live music, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, cooking demonstrations, carnival rides, a few athletic events and the Blessing of the Fleet nondenominational ceremony Oct. 6 that honors the commercial fishing industry. The community-oriented event benefits many of the county’s nonprofit groups, churches and more through their various efforts. Festival board members are making an effort to promote local seafood and produce in partnership with sponsors Got To Be N.C. Agriculture and Got To Be N.C. Seafood, a part of the N.C. Department of Agriculture, according to this year’s festival chairman Patrick Conneely. Thirty-two of 51 food vendors will sell local seafood, Mr. Conneely said. They’ll display a yellow flag at their booths that reads, “Fresh. Local. Got to be N.C. Seafood.” …
  • “Cabarrus County Farmer Takes Educating the Consumer Seriously,” Southern Farm Network: Earlier this week at the 10th Annual Food Safety Forum, hosted by NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler, poultry, swine and cattle farmer Tommy Porter sat on a panel discussing food safety issues from the farm to the plate. Porter takes his responsibility seriously when it comes to educating the consumer about where their food comes from: “I would much rather be home on the farm than sitting on a panel. But I would never turn down an opportunity to talk about the farmers side of the story. The consumer needs to know where their food comes from and how safe it is. And how its produced, everything from the land to the fertilizers to the equipment. We have the safest and most economical food supply in the world and consumers need to know that. And how it gets to their table. There is a lot of science and work that goes into it. There is science, for example breeding stock, to get to what the consumer demands on their table. If we can reach out and educate, that is why I’m here. That is why I took the day off from the farm and I think its worthwhile.” …
  • “Get out on the farms for fall,” Charlotte Observer: Once school starts and the vacation season ends, a lot of things compete for our attention. But some of the best local food all year hits fields in fall. It’s also cooler and less humid, the perfect time to make an excursion to a farm. What can you get and where can you get it? Here are a few farms with special things to offer in fall. For the full lists of you-pick farms and farmers markets that stay open through October, including the markets that are open all winter, go to …
  • “Farmers expect to offer plenty of fruit,” Hendersonville Times-News: Despite hard freezes, frost and hailstorms, Henderson County’s apple orchards emerged from all the bad weather with plenty of fruit for the N.C. Apple Festival. “Everybody around has got different damage in different orchards,” said Jerred Nix, president of the Blue Ridge Apple Growers. “Some places, Romes are affected; other places, they’re not. Some places, Galas are affected, and others they’re fine.” Despite the scattered damage, Nix said there will be no lack of unblemished apples in a range of varieties for sale at the Apple Festival, which starts Friday and runs through Monday, Labor Day. …
  • “Charlotte’s Gleaning Network gets food from fields to the hands of hungry people,” Charlotte Observer: It started in a field of corn on a farm near Concord. It ended with a hungry family in Charlotte. In between, a chain of volunteers gave time, sweat and gasoline to pick the corn, drive it where it was needed and hand it out. “It’s the best job ever,” says Jean Siers, the Charlotte coordinator for the Gleaning Network, which matches volunteers with farms that have more food than they can pick. “At the end of the day, you know somebody ate something healthy and good because you picked up the phone.” The Gleaning Network is one of a half-dozen groups in the Charlotte area that make up the system of food banks, emergency pantries and community gardens. It is also one of the few that focuses exclusively on fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies by the USDA have found that 17 percent of North Carolina households were in danger of not having enough nutritious food in 2012. …



In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: August 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. Featured this month are salads made with fresh, local ingredients found at roadside stands, farmers markets and grocery stores throughout the state.

This month, Brian and Lisa make an appetizer, dessert, main dish and salad using an abundance of fresh N.C. produce.

The first recipe is a appetizer that was originally entered in the N.C. State Fair by Gail Fuller of Raleigh. Lisa says the Summer Sushi Roll is “perfect for summer” and a “great way to get kids to eat their vegetables.” The recipe below uses Savoy cabbage but any type of cabbage can be used.

Summer Sushi Roll


  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 10 large Savoy cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 medium fresh carrot
  • 15 spears fresh asparagus
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • 2 slices fresh onion


For the rice:

  • In a saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and the ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix to a boil.
  • Add the rice, cover and steam until rice is tender. (about 10 minutes)
  • Cool and add the cream cheese, mixing well.
  • Refrigerate until cold and solid.

To prepare vegetables:

  • Cut carrot into about 6 inch sticks, the sweet pepper into slices and cut the onion slice in half.
  • Bring 1 cup of water and chicken bouillon to simmer.
  • Add all vegetables and blanch about 2 minutes (until just tender, but still whole).
  • Remove cabbage leaves, pat dry and let them come to room temperature.

To make the sushi:

  • Lay 2 cabbage leaves flat on work surface.
  • Spread about ½ cup rice mixture evenly on cabbage. (mixture will be sticky)
  • Lay 1-2 asparagus spears, 1-2 carrot sticks, 1-2 slices of yellow pepper and 1-2 half rings of onion lengthwise across the spinach leaves.
  • Roll cabbage leaves tightly around vegetables.
  • Cut each roll into 4-6 slices

Next Lisa and Brian make peach wontons from fresh N.C. peaches. Brian calls these a “new take on the peach turnover.” Lisa suggests making these wontons with a variety of N.C. fruits like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or plums. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Peach Wontons


  • 8 wonton wrappers (found in the produce section)
  • 1⁄2 cup N.C. peaches (peeled and chopped, 1-2 peaches)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • water
  • peanut oil
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla ice cream


In a sauce pan, add butter, honey and peaches. Sauté until the peaches are soft. Stir in cornstarch and let boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool fully in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Beat the egg and add a little water to make an egg wash. Place a dollop of the peach mixture on the wonton. Brush egg wash around the edges and press together at the tips.

In a large, heavy duty pot, add enough peanut oil to allow wontons to swim and heat to 350 degrees. Add wontons and fry until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Place 2 fried wontons on a plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Lisa’s husband, Robert, provided the next recipe, which Brian notes uses so many ingredients that their might not be “anything left at the grocery store after this one.” Lisa suggests it is a “great way to use all that stuff coming from the garden.” It is her version of Chinese comfort food. Add a little sriracha if you want a little extra heat .

Robert’s Stir-Fry


  • 2 cups sticky rice, cooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 green onions (green only cut into ½ inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 5 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce plus and few dashes
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 cup yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
  • 3⁄4 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced thin
  • 2 cups broccoli florets and stalks cut small
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces water chestnuts, sliced and drained
  • 5 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1⁄2 cups peppers (red, yellow, green, sliced)
  • soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the Broth:

Combine chicken broth, green onion, celery, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Let simmer on low for 30 minutes then turn off to cool.

For the Chicken:

Chicken is easier to slice thin if slightly frozen. Place the chicken in a zip lock bag add the egg white and coat. Combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Pour into the bag and shake to coat.

In a large pan or wok, set on high heat; add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Once hot, add the yellow onion and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon garlic and 1 ½ teaspoon ginger, cook for 10-20 seconds. Don’t burn it. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink and starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Continue to toss and stir the chicken. The chicken can be cooked in 2 batches but remember to divide your oils, onion, garlic and ginger. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

For the Sauce:

Combine ¼ cup soy sauce, ¾ tablespoon oyster sauce and ½ cup of the broth mixture. Then add ½ tablespoon cornstarch and stir to combine.

For the Vegetables:

In same pan, still set on high heat; add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Once hot, add spring onions and cook for 30 seconds add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 ½ teaspoon ginger and cook for a few seconds, and then add the mushrooms. Continue to stir so the garlic does not burn. Cook for a minute so the mushrooms can sweat. Then add water chestnuts, dash or two of soy sauce, pinch of salt and pepper cooking for 1 minute. Add bell peppers and celery with another pinch of salt and dash soy sauce and cook until they begin to soften. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the sauce to the pan and then the broccoli. Turn heat down to medium. Add the rest of the broth mixture if more juice is needed. Stir occasionally keeping the broccoli on top as much as possible. Cover to steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes and serve over the rice.

The month wraps up with a cold marinated salad which Lisa says is perfect for summer.

Edamame and Green Bean Salad


  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces Edamame (shelled soybeans)
  • 1 pound green beans (trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 green onions (cut into ½ inch pieces)
  • 1⁄2 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
  • 1 can Garbanzo beans (15.5 oz drained and rinsed)


  • In a small bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper; gradually add olive oil.
  • Cook edamame in boiling water for 5 minutes, then put into an ice bath. Remove and pat dry.
  • Cook green beans in boiling water for 3-6 minutes then put into an ice bath. Remove and pat dry.
  • Combine the edamame, green beans, garbanzo beans, green onions, red pepper and parsley. Pour dressing over the salad and gently stir to coat. Refrigerate a few hours before serving.



Taking care of your lawn also means taking care of your trees

Mowers and trimmers can damage trees and may cause dieback, disease, or decay.  Image: J. O’Brien, USDA Forest Service,

Mowers and trimmers can damage trees and may cause dieback, disease or decay. Image: J. O’Brien, USDA Forest Service,

It’s summer in North Carolina and that means many homeowners are pulling out the mowers on a regular basis to keep their grass trimmed throughout the growing season. While mowers may make your lawns look great though, they have the potential to make your trees look terrible.  Mowers and trimmers have the potential to damage trees, causing mechanical injury.

Trees can’t really “heal” the way you and I think of healing.  That’s why when a branch is trimmed, a permanent scar remains on the tree rather than new bark growing over it.  Instead, trees compartmentalize damage so that it does not injure other parts of the tree.  When trees are injured over and over or injured severely, it could lead to dieback, disease, decay and in some cases, death.  They just may not be able to get over the injury you cause them.

So, while you’re out in the yard this summer, cut your trees a break by not cutting them with power equipment.  Take extra care when mowing or trimming around your trees.  Another option is to mulch around your trees.  Not only will this result in a healthier tree with better soil moisture available, but you will not need to mow or trim against the main stem of the tree.


Today’s Topic: Fees for forest management plans

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

N.C. Forest Service shieldThe state budget approved by the General Assembly directed the N.C. Forest Service to start charging fees for woodland plans, which are commonly known as forest management plans. The budget bill also allowed the state Board of Agriculture to review and approve the fees, which the board did in early August.

Woodland plans will have a base fee of $45. In addition, there will be a fee of $3 per acre for forest management plans and forest stewardship plans, both of which are comprehensive plans. Practice plans, which are simpler plans that usually address just one management practice, will cost $2 per acre in addition to the base fee.

Commissioner Troxler says there are financial and environmental benefits to having a woodland plan. For example, certain types of plans can qualify a landowner for participation in the state’s Forestry Present Use Valuation Program, resulting in significant property tax reductions.

Woodland plans provide detailed forestry recommendations, but they can also advise landowners on wildlife habitat, soil and water protection, and recreational opportunities. In addition, they can help qualify landowners for forest certification.

The N.C. Forest Service continues to offer a variety of programs and services that are free of charge.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss forest management plans.

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