Monthly Newsletter
December 2022

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ickels for Know-How Approval Is a Gift to NC Agriculture

In the recent statewide referendum, users of fertilizer and feed voted favorably to continue a self-assessment supporting agricultural research, extension and teaching programs in NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

On Nov. 17, 2022, the Nickels for Know-How referendum passed with nearly 96% of the vote. Since 1951, the Nickels For Know-How check-off has been voted on every six years and has passed in previous referenda with an average 90% favorable vote.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services collects the check-off funds – about $1.4 million annually – from the manufacturers of feed and fertilizer. Manufacturers build the cost – three nickels per ton – into the price of their products.

Nickels for Know-How supports teaching, research and extension projects and student programs at NC State University. Investments include internships and annual scholarships for CALS students; workshops for high school vocational agriculture teachers; strategies to reduce the seasonality of milk production on southeastern dairy farms; and studies to help tomato growers address the most important soil-borne disease problems. Many of the significant advancements in North Carolina agriculture in the last 65 years have been made possible by the Nickels for Know-How funding.

Nickels for Know-How funding has greatly benefited agriculture – from providing seed money for supporting new research and Extension work that addresses current and emerging issues farmers face. Nickels for Know-How has also supports students through programs that help train the next generation of leaders prepare careers in food, agriculture and the life sciences.

On behalf of all my Extension colleagues, I would like to thank you for your continued support of the NC Cooperative Extension and for approving the Nickels for Know-How Referendum. It will allow us to continue meet the current and future needs of agriculture, in NC.

Deborah McGiffin, County Extension Director, Moore County


Heritage Foods Can Economic Opportunities to Farmers

How does rabbit meat over rice topped with shaved black truffles sound? Or would you like to enjoy a North Carolina craft beer or a glass of muscadine wine with dinner?

North Carolina's heritage foods are making a comeback and their resurgence holds economic potential for farmers and food entrepreneurs.
To bring some of these old-timey North Carolina foods back to the table, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences researchers and NC State Extension educators are helping make them better than ever.

Read more about how heritage foods can also promote agricultural opportunities for NC farmers, and add diversity to your menus.


Air Fryers 101: Fried Foods Without All the Grease

Whether you are hoping to get an air fryer under the Christmas tree or you simply want a healthier option for fried foods, air fryers are all the rage.

Air fryers really are amazing tools. Air fryers cook evenly and quickly, taking less energy and time than a conventional oven or stovetop. And your favorite fried foods come out crisp, flavorful and healthier than traditional methods.

In this edition of Homegrown in the Kitchen, listen to nutrition expert Catherine Hill, RDN, LDN, give tips and explain how air fryers cook by circulating hot air, much like a convection oven.


Young Farmers: Get a Step Ahead,
Plan for Retirement Now

For a young farmer, retirement may seem like a long way off, but failing to plan for retirement in younger years can put a farm at risk in later years. Unfortunately, by the time a farmer realizes they may need more savings for retirement, it may be too late–the farm may be the biggest asset, which the farmer is forced to sell to pay for expenses, often long-term care expenses.

Join NC FarmLink staff for this free webinar on Thursday, December 15th, at 2 p.m., which will give a basic overview of how the retirement system works now in the United States, with some common pitfalls to avoid as a beginning farmer. To attend, please register here via the following ZOOM link.


Delay Winter Clean Up

Leaving the garden litter and leaves behind this fall will be a real benefit to wildlife come winter. Leaf litter is a boon for wildlife and pollinators.

If you must clear your lawn, then rake leaves under trees and shrubs or into flower beds, where they will provide a habitat for all sorts of creatures. Most pollinators use the leaf litter for winter protection of eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises, or adults.

Sure, that litter harbors potential pests, but it also shelters many beneficial insects that help manage those pests. Cleaning ornamentals and vegetable gardens now will remove beneficial overwintering insects like ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps, and more.

In your flower garden, allow the stems to remain where they will provide a place for insects to overwinter. In addition, the flower seed heads provide an essential food source for birds.

Delaying your garden’s clean-up until the spring temperatures are in the 50s for at least seven consecutive days is wildlife- and pollinator-friendly and a constructive step in regaining the good and bad balance in your garden.

For more information, contact the Extension Master Gardener Helpline at 910-947-3188.

By: Claudia Watson, EMGV, Moore County

Photo Credit: Savvy Gardener

Caption: Green lacewings are one of many beneficial insects that need winter habitat

Poinsettia -The Christmas Flower

Nothing says Christmas like a flowering poinsettia, euphorbia pulcherrima. It is native to Central America and was used by the Aztecs for medicinal and decorative purposes. Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, was impressed by the beautiful plants and sent cuttings back to his home in South Carolina in 1828. The popularity of the plant grew and was named for him.

If you receive a poinsettia for the holidays, protect your plant from cold temperatures and chilling winds. At home, place it near a sunny window where it will get bright, indirect light for at least 6 hours a day. Keep it out of direct sun and avoid drafts, keeping temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Overwatering is a common cause of death, so water only when dry and don’t let the plant sit in water. No fertilizer is needed while the plant is in bloom.

To keep your plant for the next season, move it outside when night temperatures are above 50°F and prune to keep it bushy and compact. Poinsettias need long nights in complete darkness to initiate flowering. Starting in early October, cover the plant with a cardboard box or keep it in a dark place from about 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and water sparingly. When buds form in early December, stop the dark treatment and enjoy another season of blooms.

In 2002 an Act of Congress made December 12th National Poinsettia Day to honor the day of Poinsett’s death in 1851.

For more information, contact the Extension Master Gardener Helpline at 910-947-3188, Monday-Friday

By: Dolores Muller, EMGV, Moore County

Photo: by NCSU

Find local food year 'round...

Moore County Farmers' Market

Armory Sports Complex, Southern Pines, Thursdays,
Year-Round, 9 AM-1PM
(closed Thanksgiving)

See what Moore County farms have going on all year. Download the Visit NC Farms app to find out where to buy local plants and food, where to eat or drink at local restaurants, breweries and wineries, or where to tour local farms and learn about agriculture in Moore County.

Feeding the Holidays

This year President Joe Biden gave a “Presidential Pardon” to Chocolate and Chip, two North Carolina-raised turkeys. Chocolate and Chip will spend the rest of their second-chance lives pursuing higher education degrees in Poultry Science as they become the newest residents of North Carolina State University. NC State is nationally recognized as a top university for poultry production and research and is one of only six Universities that have a  poultry department in the United States.  This is the first time NC State University will house a “Presidentially Pardoned” turkey.

Chocolate and Chip were raised in Monroe, North Carolina, on the Circle S Ranch by General Manager Ronnie Parker. Mr. Parker is a 4th Generation Farmer and  the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation. Circle S Ranch raises over 9.5 million turkeys annually. This is a drop in the bucket of a 90-billion-dollar North Carolina industry. North Carolina is one of the largest turkey-producing states in the Country, second only to  Minnesota. North Carolina raises over 30 million of the 216.5 million turkeys annually.

I am one of the many people that would rather skip the turkey and have a juicy slice of ham.  North Carolina is also the 2nd largest pork producer in the nation, producing 8 million hogs and pigs annually.  There are many variations of pork dishes during the holiday season, ham, pork loin, pulled pork, bacon and even baked beans and collards. All of these dishes use a different part of the pig providing  delicious and unique flavors that form the backbone of the dish.

North Carolina represents much more than just  the main dish during the holiday season.  We also provide delicious side dishes such as sweet potato pie and casserole.  North Carolina produces 64% of all the sweet potatoes in the United States.  A whopping 1.8 billion pounds of sweet potatoes are harvested in North Carolina annually.  For me, Thanksgiving and Christmas wouldn’t be complete without sweet potatoes smothered in brown sugar and marshmallows.  

Traditionally in my family the day after Thanksgiving isn’t used for shopping for presents but for what the presents will sit under, a Christmas Tree.  We use fresh cut pine trees from a local tree farm.  Christmas trees and wreaths sustainably and locally sourced are a great option to adorn your house.  For every Christmas cut in the United States 1-3 trees are planted to replace and grow for 4- 15 years. . Christmas trees are also biodegradable and many States and Counties have tree recycling programs, often using them to mulch community gardens, roundabouts and walkways.  It may surprise many of you to find out that NC is a contender for the top spot for another Holiday tradition. We are the number two Christmas tree producing state and have produced the White House Christmas 13 times since 1971.

North Carolina can often be overlooked when it comes to national agriculture because we don’t have large amber fields of grain like the Midwest but we produce many essential items for holiday traditions, turkey, pork, sweet potatoes and Christmas trees.  Without North Carolina farmers your favorite dish or holiday tradition would not be possible.

By: Tom Shea, Livestock Agent, Moore County


Holiday Décor

A couple weeks ago, we held an Awards Luncheon to celebrate the work of our Master Gardener Volunteers. I walked away inspired by our volunteers and their dedication to improving the gardening knowledge of our community. I was also inspired by the creativity of our volunteers, as they created some of the most beautiful centerpieces for the tables using items found in their own yards.

Using items such as harvested Asian Persimmons and branches from various needled evergreens, the beauty of the garden was brought inside and gave a whole new meaning to “deck the halls”. Look around your yard for things like pine cones, native hollies with their beautiful, red berries, or winter blooming shrubs like camellias. Stems with dried flowers or seed pods can also add a little flare.

By harvesting your décor, you’ll add a unique touch to your usual decorations and save a little money in the process. Enjoy the holidays by foraging for some holiday cheer!

By: Savanah Laur, Horticulture Agent, Moore County

Handling Food Safely

As we gather for holidays, showers, and parties, food can sit out for extended periods of time and you could be eating leftovers for days.  Leaving cooked food at room temperature for too long is an invitation for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Review these tips for storing food and leftovers to stay healthy and continue enjoying your meals!

  • Check your refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40 °F and freezer at 0 °F.

  • Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. Maybe spend a few minutes doing this before sitting down to eat.
  • Dishes containing perishable foods (meat, poultry, seafood and eggs) or cooked vegetables or grains should be thrown out or composted if left…
  • At room temperature for more than 4 hours
  • Outdoors at a temperature above 90 °F (32 °C) for more than 1 hour
  • Package leftovers in small, shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Eat leftovers within 7 days. Be sure to reheat and enjoy your food one portion at a time rather than reheating and cooling leftovers repeatedly.
  • Aren’t sure if you and/or your household will eat all of your leftovers within a few days? Freeze a few portions after initially cooking and enjoy them later in the month.
  • Debating whether to eat or throw away a food product after the date on its label has passed? To understand the phrases “Best if used by,” “Sell by” and “Use by,” watch "What Do Food Expiration Dates Really Mean?"

Some foods are fine to leave out for hours at a time because they are too dry or acidic for bacteria growth.  Check out the video below for more information about what foods are safe to include for appetizers and hor d'oeuvres.  

What about pies?  Check out this article from Iowa Extension on how long pies can be out.  Pies with eggs or dairy should be stored in the refrigerator until they are served.  Be safe this season and enjoy your time around the table.

-Sourced from the Holiday Challenge "Maintain Don't Gain"

By: Janice Roberts, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, Moore County

Eggcellent Achievements for Moore County

Moore County 4-H’er, Ola Mae Gibbons, participated in the 2022 4-H Eggcellent Eggsplorers Chicken Chain show on Saturday November 12th in Greensboro, NC. Ola Mae received her Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks in early spring and worked with them throughout the year to prepare for the show. This was her first 4-H project. She placed 3rd in the Junior Showmanship Division and was Grand Reserve Champion in the Silver Laced Wyandotte type class. Ola Mae also submitted a 4-H Project
Record Book for the Eggcellent Eggsplorers Chicken Chain program giving a full record of her activities, chicken nutrition, and growth over time. This was an outstanding job and we congratulate Ola Mae on her achievements!

By: Kaley Lawing, 4-H Agent, Moore County

Read more Moore County Extension news »
NC State University and N.C. A&T State University work in tandem, along with federal, state and local governments, to form a strategic partnership called N.C. Cooperative Extension.

Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made at least 5 days before the scheduled event
to Deborah McGiffin at or 910-947-3188.


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