Monthly Newsletter
September 2021

Extension programs and resources are available to all county residents. Feel free to forward our newsletters on to family and friends. Watch out for monthly announcements of events as this newsletter arrives in your inbox each month or keep up with us on Facebook or Instagram.

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Internet Important for Farmers and Agriculture

What challenges do North Carolina farmers face in making the best use of new technology when they lack affordable high-speed internet? And what’s being done about it?

In this episode of Farms, Food, and You, two farmers and two broadband professionals talk the need for high-speed internet for agriculture and what’s being done to expand access.

Master Gardener Tips:

Pruning Hydrangeas

By Tonya Hart,
EVMG, Moore County

With huge flower heads, hydrangeas have an old fashion charm that's hard to beat.  They are also low maintenance and proper care will keep them blooming. These elegant plants are easy to grow, tolerate almost any soil and produce blue, pink, white, lavender and rose-colored flowers.

Most people are confused about pruning hydrangeas.  As long as you know which type you have, it's easy. The most common garden hydrangea shrub is the Bigleaf or Mop Head hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). Bigleaf hydrangeas grow just fine without any pruning, and making your cuts at the wrong time can actually remove the flower buds you are hoping to get. Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Mountain and Climbing hydrangeas are pruned AFTER the flowers fade.  These varieties bloom on the previous season stems ("old wood"). Prune Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas BEFORE flower buds are formed.  These varieties bloom on the current season's wood ("new wood"). Prune in the late winter when the plant is dormant.  This means that if the buds are killed during the winter the plant will produce new buds in the spring.

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

Photo by Dolores Muller

Extension Cites Rural Broadband Issues

Internet access across America today is characterized by a stark infrastructure gap between rural and urban areas. While urban centers enjoy widespread availability of reliable internet service, much of rural America has yet to be connected, and of the 24 million Americans living in households that do not have access to a broadband provider, 80 percent of them live in rural areas, according to the latest FCC data. Such disparities in infrastructure directly impact rural citizens and businesses. Access to broadband and high-speed internet can spur the local economy or leave communities behind. In rural communities, students and adults who don’t have access to the internet, don’t have a computer or laptop, or don’t know how to use them for education, work, healthcare or commerce are at an impossible disadvantage.

Moore County covers almost 700 square miles with about 49% of the population living in the rural areas of the county outside of any of the eleven incorporated towns. There are about 5,936 households in the county that lack access to the internet. However, this may be an undercounted number.  FCC regulations require broadband companies to report the census tracks they serve, not the number of actual people the company services in a specific census track. In other words, not everyone who lives in a reported census track necessarily has access to broadband, particularly if the broadband provider only services a portion of that census track.

Currently, there are public infrastructure initiatives in development that will help fund access for those households that lack broadband and connectivity to the internet. An evaluation identifying where the gaps in broadband coverage are will be needed by Moore County Government, so that funds can be dispersed to expand broadband services in the actual areas and households that presently lack intranet access. By answering this survey, you can help Moore County get a relatively accurate assessment of where broadband service is needed in the county.  

Additionally, Moore County Cooperative Extension has compiled some useful information and resources for addressing the digital divide in Moore County. Go to the Extension Broadband Access page and scroll to find links that accentuate rural broadband issues that affect how all of Moore County can better learn, earn, and access healthcare with equitable connectivity to broadband and digital technology.

Emergency Broadband Benefit for Eligible Households and Students

While getting broadband and internet service to rural and underserved areas of Moore County will be a work in progress for the foreseeable future, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, is a temporary FCC program to help households who do have internet access but have been struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service provider and one device discount per household.  Since the pandemic has forced so many schools to go virtual or offer virtual class options, this benefit may be especially useful for households with students who are dependent on internet access and who receive free or reduced lunch during the school year or for college students who receive the Pell Grant.

Go here to find more about who is eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit and how to apply.

Apply today, since this benefit will end six months after the federal government says the pandemic is over or when the program uses all of its $3.2 billion funding.

Fall Produce Is Good for Your Health

You don’t have to wait till Thanksgiving to savor fall’s bounty. Begin to enjoy all that fall has to offer with its many in season fruits and vegetables.

Generally speaking, produce is usually of better quality and better tasting when “in season.” Not to mention, it is more abundant and affordable, too. Fall boasts some of the most nutritious “in season” fruits and vegetables of the growing season.

Not only can you literally eat your rainbow of nutritious foods during the fall, but fall produce has some of the highest nutrients in fiber, minerals and calcium. The benefits of fall’s seasonal produce include:

Fiber – High fiber foods during the fall include blackberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, pears, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and apples.

The role of fiber:
  • Slows the absorption of sugar from food
  • May reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Helps control weight
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Relief of constipation/diarrhea
  • Lowers risk of bowel disorders
  • Lowers risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer

How much fiber do you need for your age?
  • Females ages 31-50 = 25 grams per day
  • Females age 50+ = 21 grams per day
  • Males age 31-50 = 38 grams per day
  • Males age 50+ = 30 grams per day

Minerals – Foods with high minerals are also on the fall list. Examples include green leafy produce such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and beets.

The role of minerals:
  • Like vitamins, minerals help your body grow and stay healthy.
  • Your body needs minerals to perform different functions, from building healthy bones to transmitting electrical impulses along nerves.

Calcium – Foods with high calcium include dried figs, broccoli and okra.

The role of calcium:

  • Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body.
  • Calcium helps form and maintains healthy teeth and bones.
  • Proper levels of calcium over a lifetime can help prevent osteoporosis.

When staying within healthy guidelines for calcium, the recommended calcium intake is 1,200 milligrams per day, for most adults.

Sh-h-h, It's a Secret

As wild fires have raged on the West Coast, as the Pacific Northwest endured a record breaking heat wave, and Texas a record breaking winter cold snap, and with Hurricane Ida hitting New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this year has shown us that climate conditions can and will usurp a
spects of our daily lives involving agriculture, environment, transportation, tourism, public health, and safety.

People who first come in contact or become aware of the Cooperative Extension usually say we are the “best kept secret in North Carolina.”  But there is another secret that few in the public and even within the Extension Service know is available to North Carolinians. The North Carolina Climate Office serves as the primary scientific Extension resource for weather and climate science for the state of North Carolina. On their website you can monitor micro-weather patterns and conditions across North Carolina through the Environment and Climate Observation Network (ECONet) which consists of a network of 43 research stations stretching from Mount Mitchell to Bald Head Island.  Students of all ages can gain access to classroom-ready curriculum that teaches students more about how our climate affects our quality of life in North Carolina. Agricultural data gathered by the Climate Office help farmers determine when to plant and harvest crops, how to calculate chill hours or mitigate weather conditions that can be detrimental to crop production. Research conducted by the Climate Office documents issues related to air quality, drought, and fire risks assessments.

The North Carolina State Climate Office is one of the most active and upcoming such offices in the nation, and was acknowledged by the American Association of State Climatologists as one of the first officially recognized State Climate Offices. The mission of the Climate Office is to improve the understanding of the complex interactions between NC weather and climate and the environment. The office serves all North Carolinians.

It's Apple PIcking Time for the 2021 Virtual Sandhills Farm Tour

The 2021 Virtual Sandhills Farm Tour continues this month with a visit to James Creek Orchards and Cider House right during apple picking season. Click here to go on a tour of the farm; then enjoy the year-round apple pickings offered at the James Creek Cider House, adjacent to the orchards.

Landowners-Learn How to Enhance Wildlife on Your Land

The Nature Conservancy, NC Forest Service, Forest Stewards Guild, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Audubon NC, NC State Cooperative Extension, and GFR Forestry have teamed up to present a workshop on bottomland hardwood management, funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  The workshop is designed for landowners, land managers, and consulting foresters who have a primary interest in enhancing wildlife habitat and water quality in bottomland forests, while generating some revenue from management activities.  The workshop will discuss the ecological and economic values of bottomland forests and present suggestions for management.  The workshop consists of a webinar on Oct 26, 2021 from 1-4:30pm, and a field trip to Bladen Lakes State Forest.  Participants can choose from one of 4 identical field trips, Oct 28 9am-12 or 1-4pm, or Oct 29 9am-12 or 1-4pm.  Field trips are capped at 20 participants each and COVID safety protocols will be followed.  It is not required to attend a field trip in order to participate in the webinar.

Home Landscapes Beneftit Best in the Fall

If you think spring is the only season to do major yard work, think again. Fall is actually the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials in our region, which means the next few months are the perfect time to work on landscaping projects. The weather is
cooler, making it more enjoyable to work outdoors and less stressful on new plantings.

Planting in the fall has many benefits to your landscape. Plants that are planted in spring and summer face many challenges. As summer arrives, we ususally experience a sudden onset of hot, dry weather. Because their roots have not yet grown out into the native soil, trees and shrubs planted in the spring have a limited ability to absorb water. Just a few days of neglect can result in a dead tree when the weather turns hot and dry, making the frequent watering imperative for plant survival. Planting in the fall avoids many of these challenges, resulting in healthier plants with less work.

Fall plantings promote better root growth. Cooler temperatures place less stress on newly transplanted trees, shrubs, and perennials while mild winters allow root growth to continue well after the top growth has stopped. By spring, fall-planted trees, shrubs, and perennials will have larger and more established root systems, resulting in better spring flushing and flowering. When planted in spring, plants are forced to establish new roots, shoot, and flower growth simultaneously, with roots usually losing out. Fall is also the time when plants naturally shift their energy from top growth to root growth. This helps plants establish faster. Perennials planted in fall translocate energy from their leaves into their root system, resulting in a stronger plant next year.

Another benefit of fall planting is there are fewer weeds to compete for nutrients and moisture, allowing more of the water and nutrients you add to be absorbed by plants instead of weeds. Less watering along with autumn’s cooler temperatures often comes gentle, soaking rainfall, which means plants set out in fall usually require less watering. In addition, plants naturally need less water in fall due to the cooler, shorter days. This is particularly true for deciduous plants that lose their leaves as winter approaches. While it’s still important to water plants well immediately after planting and for the next few weeks, within a month or two you should be able to rely on natural rainfall to provide all your plant’s moisture needs.

Planting in fall reduces the need for additional watering in the spring too by equipping your trees, shrubs, and perennials with a deeper, more established root system. Deeper roots are able to find more water, which they will need to survive the heat and drought that is sure to come next summer. When leaves unfurl and expand in spring, plants with deeper roots are better able to access the reservoir of water in the soil, reducing the need for supplemental watering.

Fall plantings have fewer insects and disease problems that could damage your new plantings. If you’ve ever had a plant fall victim to a disease or insect infestation, you know how severe these problems can be. Spring and summer are the months when pest and disease problems are most active, but fall is not. Since young plants are most vulnerable to attack, avoiding infestations by planting in the fall means you’ll have a better chance of success come spring.

Moore County Board of Commissioners Make Proclamation

As requested by members Emily Carson and Ivey Jones of the Moore County 4-H Teen Leadership Council, at their September 21st meeting, the Moore County Board of Commissioners proclaimed October 3-9 National 4-H Week. Read the proclamation here.

National 4-H Week highlights the remarkable learn by doing experiences that 4-H offers young people. Caring adult volunteer club leaders who are trained and supported by County 4-H Extension Agents are the sparks that ignite and instill STEM and life skills, confidence, and leadership skills in youth, while youth make friends and have fun.

This year 4-H events celebrated during National 4-H Week can be found here.

To find out how to start a 4-H club and become a volunteer 4-H leader or how to join 4-H, call Linda Gore at the Moore County Cooperative Extension office, 910-947-3188 or email her at

North Carolina Crunch

This October, join schools, child care centers, and organizations across North Carolina in celebrating National Farm to School Month by crunching into a locally grown apple. The 2021 NC Crunch will take place on Wednesday, October 20th. Participants of all ages are invited to crunch with us!

Across North Carolina, kids and adults will be crunching an apple grown on a local farm in October. In addition to commemorating National Farm to School and Early Care and Education Month, this annual event, co-sponsored by the NC Farm to Preschool Network and the Farm to School Coalition of NC, celebrates North Carolina agriculture, local farmers and farm workers, and nutrition.
The NC Crunch promotes healthy eating and supports farm to school and other local food purchasing initiatives throughout the state. It’s also a fun way to connect food and agriculture to all kinds of classroom curricula – from science to art. Don’t worry if you’re unable to participate on October 20th – you can host a NC Crunch event anytime during October’s National Farm to School Month festivities.

Ideas for farmers to participate in the NC Crunch:

  • Host a Crunch at a farmers market you sell at during October.
  • Visit a childcare center or K-12 classroom or lunchroom and provide a taste test.
  • Host a field trip on your farm.
  • Crunch on the farm with your family/employees.
  • Have a NC Crunch photo booth at your farm for u-pick customers through October.
  • Don’t forget to register your event! (No event is too small to register and you can skip the questions for schools if your event will not be held in a school.)

Ideas for community members to participate in the NC Crunch:

  • Host a Crunch event at your office or business with your employees.
  • Take a farm field trip to a u-pick apple farm with your employees.
  • Have a NC Crunch photo booth at your office or business.
  • Restaurants–feature a local apple recipe on your menu in October.
  • Don’t forget to register your event! (No event is too small to register and you can skip the questions for schools if your event will not be held in a school.)
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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