We Grow Ashe County NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center

October 2019

We Grow Economy

The High Country Commercial Kitchen had its official grand opening and ribbon cutting on October 21. In June, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners appropriated funds to reopen the kitchen and enlisted Cooperative Extension with managing the space. It has been a collaborative county effort to open this valuable regional resource and we greatly appreciate the dedicated work from the Ashe County Administration, Economic Development, Maintenance, IT, and Finance departments.

Mitchell Peele, Sr. Director of Public Policy at NC Farm Bureau speaks at the Ashe County Voluntary Farmland Preservation Annual Meeting.

On Friday, October 18, the Ashe County Voluntary Farmland Preservation Annual Meeting was held at Midway Baptist Church. There were 70 members in attendance. A special thank you to Mr. Mitchell Peele for speaking regarding public perceptions in agriculture. There are 23,000 acres in Farmland Preservation in Ashe County. Farmland Preservation or Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) serves to protect agriculture property rights in North Carolina.

We Grow Safety

Micah Orfield, Extension Agent and Michelle Pelayo, Migrant Education Program Coordinator, provided Worker Protection Standard (WPS) training to farm workers on October 10. WPS training provides farmers and their workers with up to date safety procedures for their farm. The training topics include pesticides, heat stress, and potential allergens. Micah and Michelle ensure each worker understands the dangers of farming and how to minimize those risks in English and Spanish.

We Grow Agriculture

Ashe County Cooperative Extension received a grant from the NC Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund to create Christmas tree scouting videos in both English and Spanish. We have been working this summer and fall with Germain Media, LLC to create scripts, record footage, record narration, edit and produce videos. Michelle Pelayo, MEP Coordinator, translated all scripts into Spanish and provided narration. This month we released our first set of videos, Making Wreaths to Avoid Scale, just in time for the greenery/wreath production season.

We Grow Youth

Tara Best, Club Leader, teaches youth about horses and equipment after fitting youth for helmets.

Ashe County 4-H recently started the Head, Heart and Hooves 4-H Equestrian Club. Throughout the first two meetings, held in October, volunteer leader Tara Best, taught youth about horses, equipment, and riding across all disciplines. If you would like more information on the 4-H Equestrian Club, please contact Caroline Goss, Extension Agent, 4-H at (336) 846-5850.

Mountain View Elementary Sixth Grade students show off the water bottles they received after graduating from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
4-H Afterschool Harvest Table

F.A.R.M. Full Circle provided a Harvest Table for the 4-H Afterschool youth. F.A.R.M. Full Circle created an apple salsa for the children while explaining the importance of reducing food waste. 4-H’ers loved the cooking demonstration and eating the apple salsa even more! Each child was allowed to go through a produce assembly line in which their bags were packed full of grapes, apples, ginger and potatoes. F.A.R.M. Full Circle also provided families with recipe cards to help utilize the produce at home.

Staff Highlights

Michelle Pelayo, Migrant Education Program Coordinator, attended the National Identification and Recruitment (ID&R) Forum. This year’s conference had over 400 participants from all over the United States. Michelle was able to participate in many different educational sessions including, How to transition from Paper Enrollment to Electronic, Understanding the Migrant Family Lifestyle and Recruiter Safety in the Field. She received lots of valuable information that she was able to share with key community partners.

Amanda Butalla, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Rhonda Church, EFNEP Program Associate and Jill Cockerham, Local Foods Program Assistant, all successfully completed the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Examination .

On October 21, Ashe County Cooperative Extension Staff welcomed Rhonda Conlon and Scott McCollum from NCSU Extension IT. They provided a training on managing our Ashe County Center website portal. Staff learned how to edit many aspects of the website, allowing us to make this a valuable information resource for all our users in Ashe County. This is also where we will be housing all of our newsletters, now under the left hand tab We Grow Ashe County. Also, don’t forget to check out our events calendar for upcoming programs.

October 28 through October 31, Ashe County Cooperative Extension staff traveled to Raleigh for the 2019 NC Cooperative Extension State Conference. This year’s theme was “Partnering to Serve.” Throughout the week, staff attended professional development trainings and developed relationships with University staff. The information gained will help everyone continue to implement and deliver high quality programming to the citizens of Ashe County.

Employee Spotlight

Brad Edwards

Integrated Pest Management Program Assistant

Brad Edwards is a native of Alleghany County and began his career with Cooperative Extension almost nine years ago.

Brad inspires so many with his smile and positive attitude as he works with Christmas Tree and Pumpkin growers in Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga County. His personality and ability to work with any grower, large or small, allows him to build trusting, one on one relationships.

Brad helps implement many research based methods that are developed using a common sense approach with growers. Brad's economic impact across his three county area have annually averaged $3,106,000.

In 2016, the NC Christmas Tree Association selected Brad for their Outstanding Educator Award for outstanding service, efforts and contributions given to the North Carolina Christmas Tree Industry.

The definition of a great educator is a person who relates information to his students in a way that makes them understand. This describes Brad perfectly.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Created By
Jessica Ham


John Lambeth, NC Farm Bureau and NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center Staff