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Archive for the 'Home Grown' Category

A Thrilling Jet Boat Ride Actually Begins In This Bryson City Factory

A 40-minute Jet Boat ride on Lake Fontana is a ‘must-do’ Smoky Mountains adventure for all ages. After experiencing the boat’s signature 360-degree “Hamilton Spins”, one passenger commented, “If you did this in a car, you’d get arrested.”

Did you know that the aluminum New Zealand-style jet boats are actually manufactured in Bryson City? They’re made by Smoky Mountain Jet Boats, the same people that take riders on those crazy rides across the lake. Above, Tony Ward and Adam Queen smooth the welds in a boat destined for Madison, Indiana. In just the past year, owner Nick Williams has shipped boats to Memphis, Myrtle Beach, Galveston, Gatlinburg and Naples, Florida; and as far away as Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Portugal.

The company is only U.S. manufacturer of the New Zealand style boats that are United States Coast Guard approved.

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Shelton Family Farms’ CSA – “Garden in a Box”

Last Friday was the first weekly distribution of Shelton Family Farms’ 2012 Community Supported Agriculture program. Now in its fourth year, the Shelton’s CSA provides members with 25 weeks of fresh produce neatly packaged in a take-home box. Above, Rita and Rogers Shelton pack this week’s box with kale, spring onions, lettuce, radishes, basil and strawberries. The selections will change from week to week throughout the season as each vegetable reaches harvest maturity.

Located in Whittier on what was once the William Holland Thomas farm, the land has been farmed by the Sheltons since Rogers’ grandfather bought the property in 1922. Today, the fourth generation of owners includes William and Sabrina Shelton, along with sons Wil, Sam, Cal, and Tom.

The Sheltons will continue to accept memberships in their CSA throughout the season with fees prorated. You can find more information on their website, SheltonFamilyFarm.com.

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Bryson City Company Makes Small-Scale Old West Wagons

When Horace Greelee said “go west young man”, J.R. vanLienden must have been listening, because he’s gone into the Old West Wagon Train business.

But he’s not making wagons for pioneers and teams of horses. J.R.’s wagons are scaled down for kids and are powered by the ‘horses’ under the hood of a garden tractor or riding mower — an “amusement ride for home or business,” he says. At the recent “Green Thumb Day” festival in Whittier (above), J.R. offered free rides on one of the wagons. And he says several can be strung together for a ‘trackless train’.

J.R. makes his wagons in the old Whittier School. You’ll find more information on his website, TinkerMania.com.

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A Mild Spring Means Strawberries in Mid-April

Normally, we expect locally-grown strawberries to ripen in time for Mothers Day in mid-May. But this year’s mild Spring brought the berries to market about a month earlier. Above, Jennifer Cooper of Bryson City (left) and Marta Laksa of Cherokee sample freshly-picked berries at Darnell Farms, just east of Bryson City on Highway 19. Darnell and the Shelton Family Farm on Thomas Valley Road in Whittier are two local growers where you can pick your own or purchase containers of berries.

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A 4H Project Starts Scores of Home Gardens in the Smokies

Lyndsay Taylor brought her 4-H project to Whittier’s ‘Green Thumb Fest’ on Saturday — a few hundred starter plants that the teenager grew from seeds in a 4-H greenhouse. Above, Regina Swimmer of Cherokee selects one of Lyndsay’s hanging baskets. Other choices included cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, pepper and flowering plants.

If you missed the Whittier festival, Lyndsay has plenty more plants for sale at the Lyntree 4-H Greenhouse at 995 Needmore Road — next door to the Maple Springs Baptist Church, about a mile off US 74. Lyndsay says “if I’m not there, just select your plants and pay on the honor system.” For information, call 488-3934.

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Bryson City Artist Fashions Gourds Into Functional Art

Bryson City artist Joan Glover practices a craft that is as old as mankind — fashioning hard-shell gourds – “nature’s pottery” – into beautiful, functional vessels.

In a few short years, what began as a gourd birdhouse hobby has grown into a full-time craft enterprise that takes Joan to major craft shows throughout the region. Her creations combine gourds with just about anything natural — feathers,  philodendron sheaths, jacaranda pods, wooden beads, basketry and tillandsia air plants.

And nothing is wasted. The gourd tops become vases or wind chimes, and the parts she can’t use are recycled. Another artisan uses the dried pulp in her handmade papers. And the seeds go back into the ground to grow more gourds.

You can see examples of Joan’s creations on her website. Or visit Sleepy Hollow Farm where she and husband Mike market organically-grown produce and farm-fresh brown eggs in Bryson City.

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Want fresh? Buy your fruits and veggies from a local farmer.

Farmers markets, tailgate markets and roadside stands are a long-standing tradition in the mountains — providing a practical way for rural farmers to sell their products to the general public. And today that tradition is very much alive in Bryson City. Every Friday morning through October, area farmers bring their fresh garden bounty to the Swain County Farmers Market in the Main Street parking lot next to the Old Courthouse.

Above, Murphy Hunting learns all about Mike Glover’s farm fresh brown eggs and organically-grown produce from his Sleepy Hollow Farm. Other stands included honey from Balltown Bee Farm, fresh trout from Tumbling Waters Trout Pond, and handmade jewelry by Jane Spottedbird, as well as native plants, crafts, herbal products and more vegetables.

Swain County Farmers Market
May thru October
9:00 – 1:00
Main Street, parking lot by the old courthouse, across from the Chamber of Commerce

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The Strawberry Season Peaks in the Smokies

Three-year-old Jewlz White samples one of the juicy ripe strawberries she had just picked at Darnell Farms yesterday. She and her grandparents came from the Stecoah Community to pick berries at the Darnell’s Strawberry Jam festival, held annually at the peak of the berry season.

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Something is Brewing in Bryson City

Against a backdrop of gleaming steel fermenting tanks, Jen Huston draws a beer for Joe Rowland at the Nantahala Brewing Company’s new tasting room, which had its grand opening Friday. For several months, the Bryson City craft brewery has been supplying area restaurants with kegs of their IPA, Brown, Stout & Pale Ale and seasonal ales. And now, customers can enjoy the local brews at the 61 Depot Street brewery.

Jen, Joe and brewers Chris and Cristina Collier are initially opening the tasting bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 4 pm to 10 pm and Sundays 2 pm to 6 pm, with an expanded hours April thru mid-November. For more information and hours of operation, visit their website.

Updated 3/6/2011 with expanded March hours


Autumn Color — Take Some Home With You

Every October, people come to the Smoky Mountains to view the brilliant colors of autumn. And many of them take a little of that color back home with them — in the form of a bright, golden pumpkin from a local farm. Above, Allene Jenkins of Bryson City checks out the fall display of pumpkins and squash for sale at Darnell Farms, a family run business just east of Bryson City on Highway 19 at the Tuckaseigee River bridge.

Besides fall favorites — pumpkins, potatoes and apples — the farm has delicious strawberries every May and fresh produce throughout the summer. You’ll also find locally made jams, preserves, honey, salsas and boiled peanuts. There’s a river walk along side the Tuckaseigee and in the Fall hayrides for the kids. You might even catch some musicians jamming on the weekends. Darnell Farms is open every day. Call 828-488-2376.

When you return home with your pumpkins, try this recipe from the Hemlock Inn, a Bryson City Country Inn —

Myrtle’s Pumpkin Bread
2-1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together. Grease and flour two one-pound coffee cans. Pour batter into cans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for one hour. Turn off oven and leave in oven for 15 minutes. Turn out of coffee cans on cloth when cool. Serves 16.

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The Blooms of Bryson

One of the best-kept secrets in Bryson City is the local folk that call it home. Visitors don’t have to look far to find hometown pride. They can see it in the buildings that have been renovated instead of razed and in the beautiful flowers scattered throughout the county.

A short trip to West Deep Creek (which locals call the left side of the creek) reveals a garden so spectacular visitors stop in the middle of the street and take pictures. Larry and Catherine Winchester began planting sunflowers as a way of teaching their grandchildren about the land they love. Today it is a tradition.

The “Sunflower Garden” that began with a few seeds has grown into a traffic-stopping row that reaches high into the air. A welcome home sign to all who pass.

Words and photo by Renea Winchester
Website Blog

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The Joys of Country Living — Farm Fresh Eggs and Produce

On Friday mornings throughout the Summer, local farmers bring their harvest to the Bryson City Tailgate Market at the parking lot next to Fred’s on Highway 19 West. Two of those farmers are Joan and Mike Glover whose small organic farm surrounds their mountainside home just outside Bryson City.

In addition to growing organic vegetables, berries, apples and medicinal herbs, the Glovers’ flock of free-range chickens produces a steady supply of brown and pastel-colored eggs. They’ll all find their way to Bryson City breakfast tables and restaurants.

The Glovers’ flock of Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucana, Dominics, Golden Comet, Black Sexlink, and Anaconas will never be tempted to cross the road and leave home. Their life on the farm is much too cushy. Joan has even named each of her ‘girls’ — including Polly, Sugarland, Marlene, Lindsey and Chick-Fil-A.

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How Sweet It Is! Locally-grown Berries.

After months of commercially-grown-who-knows-where strawberries, the month of May is indeed special — we can finally enjoy the sweet taste of fresh-picked, locally-grown berries.

On Friday at the Bryson City Tailgate Market, Molly Shaw treated young Abby Shuler to a bright red berry from Shelton Family Farm in Whittier. Shelton and Darnell Farms are two area growers where you can pick your own or purchase containers of freshly-picked berries. And May 15 is the date for Darnell Farms’ annual Strawberry Jam, a full day of music, crafts, hayrides and food …including strawberry shortcake.

Molly Shaw is an elementary school teacher whose award-winning strawberry jam is available at the Cottage Craftsman and the Fryemont Inn. You can purchase local produce and crafts at Bryson City Tailgate Market, Fridays from 9am to 1 pm at the parking lot next to Fred’s on Highway 19 West.

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The Flight of Honey Bees Means Spring Has Arrived in the Smokies

While honey bees don’t hibernate, they do remain in their hives throughout the Winter months, living off honey they made and stored last year. And now, with warmer days and budding trees, the bees at Balltown Bee Farm are finally emerging from their hives — officially confirming the arrival of Spring in the Smokies. In another rite of Spring, Balltown’s beekeeper Kelley Penn (above) carefully inspects each hive to see how the bees fared over the Winter. “Quite well,” she said.

More than just bees, Balltown Bee Farm is a small, sustainable farm producing mixed vegetables, spring transplants and shiitake mushrooms, all raised chemical-free. You can find their products at the farmers markets in Bryson City, Sylva and Cashiers (in season).

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Bryson City Librarian Makes One-of-a-Kind Musical Instruments

By day, Jeff Delfield is the Librarian at Bryson City’s Marianna Black Library. And in his spare time, he’s a maker of unique hand-crafted musical instruments, filling requests from as far away as Australia.

Above, he’s putting the finishing touches on a tackhead banjo with a distinctive “patchwork quilt” design — a specific request of the buyer. To achieve the multicolored pattern, Jeff constructed the rim from eight different woods. And to fully display the beauty of the woodwork, he hid the head tensioning system on the inside of the rim, a technique he borrowed from the makers of Irish Bodhrán drums. The head is calfskin, the neck walnut and the fretboard is made of bloodwood.

Jeff makes just one instrument at a time, a process that usually takes about six weeks. You can see more of his hand-crafted folk instruments, including videos, on his Deep Creek Strings website.

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May Is The Month For Strawberry-Lovers


With supermarket strawberries available year ’round, it’s easy to forget the taste of fresh-picked, locally-grown berries. But May is the time to enjoy the real thing.

In the Bryson City area, two local growers have fields where you can pick your own or purchase containers of freshly-picked berries. Above, Brynnae Rhinehart of Bryson City samples a berry at Darnell Farms, just east of Bryson City on Highway 19. The other is Shelton Family Farm on Thomas Valley Road in Whittier.

Products made from locally-grown berries are also appearing on Bryson City’s retail shelves. Molly Shaw is an elementary school teacher whose award-winning strawberry jam is available at the Cottage Craftsman and the Fryemont Inn. And an area winery, Calaboose Cellers, uses local berries in their “Up The River” strawberry-rhubarb wine, which is served onboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad excursions, and is available at the Cottage Craftsman.

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The Blueberry Hills Are Ripe For Pickin’

Pick your own blueberrry farm in Whittier, NC

It’s blueberry time in the Smokies. And several “You Pick’em” berry farms — like the one above in the Whittier community — should have plump, sweet berries from now through late summer.

Want to make something special with your berries? Try this Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake recipe provided by the Folkestone Inn Bed & Breakfast.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes twelve 1/4 cup pancakes, four servings

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

1 egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Sift together flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and oil. Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible (only until combined). Stir in 1 cup blueberries.

Heat griddle to 375 degrees F. Brush with oil or melted butter. Pour 1/4 cup of batter to make each pancake. Cook until edge of each pancake loses its gloss, then flip. Uncooked batter can be placed in the refrigerator for the next day. (Recipe can be doubled)

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