Sierra Watson

The Key Note

Bringing you the good news during hard times.

Sep 28

Mural Settings

Posted on September 28, 2020 at 4:25 PM by Crystal Keener

Fall in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains is hard to beat. The cooler weather, clear skies and changing landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for exploring, and one way to do that - a scavenger hunt, specifically one involving outdoor art. 

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Aug 28

Have You Herd The News

Posted on August 28, 2020 at 12:15 PM by Crystal Keener

Maybe you've seen the herd of goats grazing on the hill at West Park recently, and thought "what's going on here?' Well, let me explain.

First, we recently said goodbye to our summer intern and blogger, Sierra Watson. I guess you could say she moved on to greener pastures, as Access Coordinator for Wilkes Fresh, a mobile produce market for local fruits and vegetables. Wilkes Fresh is a project of the Healthy Wilkes Action Team under The Health Foundation and in collaboration with several other local agencies. 

The Health Foundation owns and manages West Park Medical Park and that brings us to the goats. 

Several years ago The Health Foundation received a planning grant from the NC Forest Service  to beautify West Park. They offered suggestions about how to replant with native species and remove non-native, and invasive plants, specifically on the hillside behind Village Inn Pizza. In order to do that, they needed to clear the way, but that posed a bit of a challenge.

Health Foundation Executive Director Heather Murphy explained, "The steep, rocky terrain makes it challenging for human landscapers and their equipment to navigate safely. West Park is adjacent to the river, and so the use of chemicals that could adversely affect the water system was something we wished to avoid as well, since protecting the watershed is essential to the health and well-being of our community."

Introducing...The Goats. They're  are environmentally friendly, hard-working, natural landscapers. They are built for rough, uneven terrain and are known to be especially effective at taming kudzu. Living in North Carolina, you know well the struggles we have with kudzu.


Murphy had to seek variances from the town to allow goats within the city limits and to be protected from predators by the electric fencing that surrounds their workspace.
That variance was adopted by the North Wilkesboro Board of Commissioners on February 4, 2020

The Goat Squad out of Chapel Hill, NC is providing the workforce. Since 2012, The Goat Squad's Mission has been to offer vegetation removal, educate people about native plants, and introduce our herd as useful and friendly.

Are you curious about getting a little help from goats? Town Planner, Meredith Detsch says you'll need 
a zoning permit, which can take a couple of weeks to process. There's also a limit on how many times you can emply them throughout the calendar year. But what a green way to clean up, and it's entertaining too.


Aug 10

Keepin’ Wilkes Fresh!

Posted on August 10, 2020 at 11:54 AM by Crystal Keener

Now this is the story all about how Wilkes Fresh mobile market is travelin’ around town. And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became the Food Access Coordinator of a county called Wilkes-air (I tried). 

Clearly I am no Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But I will tell you what I am, the Food Access Coordinator for The Health Foundation’s Wilkes Fresh mobile market (not as catchy, I know!). So let me give you the freshy-fresh rundown. 

Wilkes Fresh is a traveling mobile produce market bringing Wilkes delicious fruits and veggies across the county. It is a project of the Healthy Wilkes Action Team under The Health Foundation and in collaboration with Wilkes Health Department, Wilkes Community Partnership for Children, Town of Wilkesboro, Wilkes Cooperative Extension Service, and the Wilkes Family YMCA. 

So now let me hit you with some fresh facts (say that three times fast). Wilkes County has a 19% poverty rate with 13.8% being food insecure. 22.6% of children in Wilkes County live in homes that are food insecure. Wilkes County has two distinct food deserts (say whaaaaaat?). Food deserts are areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food (I’ll save you the Google). One is located in the western part of the county with the other being in one of the town centers – North Wilkesboro (betcha’ didn’t know that). 

Produce is sourced from local farmers and sold in six rotating locations on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Wilkes Fresh was built to eliminate transportation and expense barriers that keep residents from sourcing fresh fruits and veggies. Wilkes Fresh accepts cash, debit/credit, EBT/SNAP benefits, and “Market Bucks” (vouchers from The Health Foundation provided by the Wilkesboro Health Department). “Market Bucks” can be redeemed at our mobile market, or at North Wilkesboro’s farmers market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. 

Let’s just say I’ve clearly got my work cut out for me (also that I should not quit my day job to pursue a rapping career). So what can you do? Support and follow the Wilkes Fresh Facebook page so you can stay up-to-date on where we will be next! You can’t miss our colorful souped-up ride. 

So this isn’t goodbye, it’s ta ta for now! Don’t be down, I’ll still be around (see what I did there)!