We Grow Ashe County NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center

August / September 2019

We Grow Agriculture

On September 10, the Official NC/TN Pumpkin Variety Trial was harvested at the Upper Mountain Research Station. The trial was managed by Ashe County Cooperative Extension and maintained by Upper Mountain Research Station staff. Specialists from the University of Tennessee and NC State University were on site to harvest along with Ashe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and representatives from six different commercial seed companies. This trial had 54 varieties of pumpkins that are evaluated for shape, size, color, yield, and quality. This informs seed companies which pumpkins to make available to growers. It also provides our growers with information on the best suited varieties for the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are over 3,000 acres of pumpkins produced within a 40 mile radius of the Upper Mountain Research Station.

We Grow Citizens

Left to right: Randy Hutton, Jacqui Hutton, Nancy Vann, Linnea Miller, Steve Sheek, Jill Wall, and Beth Lyon-Smith

At the end of August, 7 volunteers graduated to the ranks of Certified Extension Master Gardener. This group went through over 40 hours of classroom training in 2018 and over the past year have put in a minimum of 40 volunteer hours. Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers provide unbiased, research based information that empowers residents to cultivate healthy gardens, landscapes, and ecosystems through safe, effective and sustainable gardening practices. Interested in becoming part of this volunteer program? Call our office at (336) 846-5850 to get your name on the EMG information list. We will begin a new training class in spring of 2020 and will keep you updated with more information.

We Grow Community

Ashe County is lucky to have Michelle Pelayo, Migrant Education Program Coordinator, to help families arriving to work our harvest season. The Migrant Program is in place to help families with everything from basic needs to parent teacher conferences in all of the different schools in the county.

One family arrived a few months ago and the three children were sleeping on the floor after their air mattress popped. With winter fast approaching the Migrant Program Coordinator did not want the children to be sleeping on the cold floor. She reached out to the Ashe County Bed Ministry and was able to get two twin beds and one toddler bed for the children. The family had a beautiful dollhouse donated to them that the children fell in love with and started to play with as soon as it was brought into the home.

We Grow Nutrition

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and East Carolina University began a two year program this year for teachers and parents in the Head Start programs across the state. The purpose is to help Head Start teachers and families become advocates of healthy living in their classrooms and homes with emphasis on becoming role models to the children. Head Start teachers and families can positively influence children by adopting and practicing healthy behaviors in their own lives. Ashe County EFNEP delivered 6 lessons to 47 participants at the BROC regional office in Wilkesboro to all teachers and staff in Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes County.

We Grow Youth

“Girl I feel bad for you,” is what one 4-H’er said as my bearded dragon, who was perched on my shoulder, did his business all over my crisp, white sweater. It was an educational, funny, albeit humbling start to 4-H Summer Parks first themed week: All About Pets. This was the first year to incorporate different themes throughout summer including: All About Pets, The Artist in You, Independence Week, Explore Ashe County, Science Discovery, Fun with Foods, and Outdoor Adventures. 70 youth participated in 4-H Summer Parks which lasted from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday for 7 weeks. Youth were able to explore a variety of subjects and develop different skills. Participants were also exposed to industries and organizations throughout our community including 70 volunteers and guest speakers and involvement from approximately 20 local businesses and organizations. Everyone had a blast this summer, and we are grateful to have such phenomenal support from those around us here in the Coolest Corner.

Caroline Goss, Extension Agent, 4-H shows off her bearded dragon.

4-H Afterschool recently partnered with F.A.R.M. Full Circle to donate excess produce from local farmers and grocers to be used as snacks and to be sent home with families. 4-H Summer Parks was supplied with an abundance of grapes, plums, and apples. The plums and apples we’re all taken home by families the same day and the grapes were used for a snack. Over 70% of the children chose the grapes to have as their snack as compared to the chips. Recently they supplied 4-H Afterschool with watermelon for an addition to their snack, each child ate at least two pieces and one afterschool teacher remarked she had “never seen so many bags of chips left over”.

Elizabeth Martinez exhibiting her ewe at Grayson County Fair.

Congratulations to 4-H'ers Elizabeth Martinez and Chloe Miller for bringing home ribbons in Breeding and Market Sheep classes at the Grayson County Livestock Show on August 10, 2019. They have worked with their animals all year to prepare them for show season.

We Grow AgriTourism

NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center is a sponsor of the new Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Virtual Tour. You can find the full virtual tour at www.thecoolestcorner.com. The virtual tour covers all of Ashe County from Lansing to Todd (and everything in-between) – even showing places many locals have never seen by combining beautiful photos, videos, 360 degree views, and virtual hosts. A user friendly online experience for both visitors and locals, the virtual tour highlights Ashe County's towns, arts, music, Blue Ridge Parkway, State Parks, agritourism, and the majestic New River. The Coolest Corner Virtual Tour is intended as a tool to encourage travel, tourism, and economic development.

Extension Employee Spotlight

Caroline Goss

Extension Agent, 4-H

Caroline Goss is an Ashe County native who enjoys working with people, animals, and agriculture.

Caroline is excited to work with Cooperative Extension in Ashe County to serve local youth through 4-H. “You don’t have to look very far to identify a need,” Caroline said. “I am looking forward to collaborating with community members and developing programs that meet these needs for our county’s youth.”

Growing up, she had various pets including dogs, cats, turkeys, and chickens. She grew up with a family that raised honey bees, and she worked at The Honey Hole of the Blue Ridge throughout college in addition to her aunt’s goat and alpaca farm.

She attended North Carolina State University where she earned degrees in Animal Science and Agricultural Business Management. In 2016, Caroline served as an Agriculture Intern for Samaritan’s Purse in Vietnam where she incorporated her passion for helping others and agriculture knowledge to improve the lives of beneficiaries in rural communities.

She and her husband Luke live in Jefferson with their three dogs: Sophie, Chief and Wally, and enjoy traveling, new experiences, being outside, and volunteering in animal rescue. They are also active in the Christmas tree industry and love calling Ashe County home.

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