February 2021
Home Gardener News
From the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers:
We are now on the upswing of the gardening year, with the days getting longer and milder making it more tempting to get into the garden. There are also quite a few things to be done inside for those days when going outdoors just does not appeal at all. No matter the weather, a gardener can always find things to do.

A bit of advice for those looking to purchase seeds and plants from online or catalog suppliers is to get your orders placed immediately. Between the increased interest in home gardening and the reduction in workforce at the suppliers, the products are selling out fast, the days and times when orders are being accepted are variable, and the delivery times are many weeks out.

Livestock News
N.C.B.A. Winter Reboot
What is the cattle industry Winter Reboot?
Brand new and reimagined for 2021, this two-day virtual experience featuring education, industry updates, market outlook, and a robust virtual market place with some of the top companies in the industry.
Sessions include an update out of Washington DC, including what to expect with the new administration. And TEN educational programs covering topics like sustainability, as well as a tech tool preview and a preview of what to expect from the 2021 Cattlemen’s College in Nashville, Tennessee August 9-10. Click here for more information!
Family and Consumer Science News
Cook Smart Eat Smart Program Offered Virtually

The past year has provided us with many more opportunities to prepare and eat more meals at home. Some may have found this a welcome diversion while others may have found it added stress to an already busy life. Read more

Virtual Adult Sewing Classes

Virtual Adult Sewing Classes will be offered beginning February 13. The classes will be held one Saturday each month, from 9 am until Noon. There will be a special project taught, with pictures of step by step instructions as well as written instructions.

These classes are sponsored by Saturday Stitchers ECA (Extension and Community Association) Club. There is a one-time fee of $10 to join the North Carolina Extension and Community Association. As a member of this association, you are able to participate in all district and state meetings. If you are interested in participating in these classes or would like more information, email Renay Knapp, Extension Agent, Family, and Consumer Sciences, at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Henderson, and Transylvania County Centers.
Natural Resources News
The Transylvania Natural Resource Council will have its monthly meeting via Zoom on February 12, 2021 beginning at 9:00 AM. This month's presenters will be students from Brevard High School who will discuss monitoring bird migrations utilizing doppler radar; as well as a member of Greenville, S.C.'s Hawk Watch group.

To join this presentation via Zoom please call our office at 828.884.3109 or email and we'll send the Zoom link info.

Small Fruits Workshops Available
Winter is the ideal time to work with many of our small fruits. We've got a few workshops available for everyone to safely learn from their living room, or join us to get hands on practice with some overgrown blueberry bushes at Gaia Herbs>

In person Blueberry Pruning at Gaia Herbs (click here to register): Friday, February 19th at 1:00PM at Gaia Herbs, Brevard NC. Call 884-3109 or email for more info

Small Fruits Zoom (click here to register): Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:00PM (online event)

North Carolina Hemp Update
The Western NC Hemp Growers meeting will be held via Zoom on February 17, 2021 starting at 5 p.m. There have been several other regional hemp meetings this winter that have focused on NC State led research and provided information on insect and disease control, drying, and economics of production. Those meetings have been recorded and we will provide links to them so you can view them also. But this meeting will feature WNC hemp farmers, several processors, and a fiber industry rep as our primary speakers. Hemp production and marketing in western NC is a bit different from the rest of the state and we thought it was important for you to hear from those who are in the industry. They have promised to share the good and the bad. You must register in advance for this meeting. Please click on this Eventbrite link to register. We will keep that page updated as the program develops. This meeting is organized by NC Extension personnel in western NC.
Nutrition News

February is American Heart Month  

The Valentine’s hearts we see everywhere this month are a good reminder to take care of our own hearts. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. According to the CDC, almost 1 in 4 deaths each year is caused by some type of heart disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can improve our heart health. Here are some simple nutrition tips for a healthy heart: 

Hold the Salt and the Added Sugar!
You can start by lowering the amount of salt (or sodium) you are eating. The Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat no more than 2,300 mg of salt each day, but most Americans are eating about 3,400 mg! To reduce the amount of salt you’re eating, you can season homemade food with spices other than salt, eat more fresh foods, and choose low-sodium options at the store. Added sugar can also increase the risk of heart disease and is not a required nutrient, so the less you consume, the better! Many of our favorite snacks and beverages contain a lot of added sugar. Remember to check the Nutrition Facts label to find out how much sodium and added sugar are in your food.

Pass the Veggies Please!
A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains provide vitamins and fiber for a healthier heart. Make sure half of your plate is fruit and vegetables. Choose lean proteins and healthy oils instead of foods with trans fats or that are high in saturated fat. Beans, tofu, nuts, fish, skinless chicken, and low-fat dairy foods are examples of healthy foods that contain protein.
Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program
Medicare Advantage Dis-enrollment Period Going on Now
The annual Medicare Advantage dis-enrollment period runs from January 1 through February 14.  During this time, a Medicare beneficiary enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan may choose to leave their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.  If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until February 14 to enroll without penalty in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan for 2021.  Your prescription drug coverage will begin the first day of the month after the drug plan receives your enrollment form. read more
NCSU Homegrown Monthly Digest
Homegrown is an ever changing source of information that will be of interest to everyone. Timely articles are posted continually throughout the year, covering topics relating to In the Garden, In the Kitchen and On the Farm.
You can sign up to receive a monthly newsletter directly to your inbox by visiting the NC State Extension Homegrown website.