The harvest is looking great! You can sign up below to receive notices about chestnut news (pick your own dates, sales, end of season warning). To sign up to help harvest, use the
We will be open for purchasing chestnuts at the orchard on Thursdays, Fridays and weekends 2pm-6pm beginning September 25th. We have not yet set the dates for pick your own customers, but it is likely to be the second weekend in October. As soon as we can determine our crop load, we will post the dates.
See you there!
Our order page is open although we will not ship until later in the month. Besides needing to gather up enough to ship, we would like to give the early nuts a chance to "cure" before we ship. When chestnuts first fall, they are full of water and starch. Over time, the nuts will dry down slightly (even in the cooler) and the starches change to sugars giving you that wonderful, full flavored nut you love. Our best guess is that we will start shipping on September 29th.
We have taken the small chestnuts off the order page since we are harvesting very few small nuts. A combination of years of grafting for larger sizes as well as some good rains this year. Sorry to those who really like the smaller ones!
What do you do all summer when the chestnuts are developing??
We are asked that question a lot and honestly, when we started the orchard I thought "Plant the trees, mow a little, pick up the nuts. How hard could that be?". Well....
In May, June and early July, Charlie will work on and tend the grafts. We track the qualities of each tree (almost 1500!) and graft those that produce small or otherwise inferior nuts. After almost 20 years, we don't have a lot of grafting to do, but still that takes time. With the age and size of the trees the bigger issue is pruning and thinning, which we have been doing all spring and summer. We don't mow until all the ground nesting and fledging birds have a chance to get out of the way, so we are just starting the mowing routine.
At all times, we work to keep the orchard from becoming a wild elm, mulberry and grape jungle. Since we do not spray, all woody plants which grow too close to the tree to mow are removed by hand. No, we do not get it all done!
Right now we are getting ready for the harvest. Cleaning and clearing out the sheds, working on the harvest carts, fixing up the collection bins and working on ways to make it easier for us and our help.
Speaking of help, see "chestnut harvest" tab to sign up to help us gather the nuts!
Our harvest help
We are lucky to be close to Lawrence and have a great harvest crew. About 50 people from our community; students, families, folks interested in agriculture and many others, come out to hand harvest with us. This year a couple of Scout troops are gathering chestnuts as a fund raiser. We'd like to thank all of our helpers. Because of their consistency we are able to harvest daily, rain or shine, and get the nuts into the ideal conditions of our cooler within a day of falling.
We appreciate your encouragement and hope that you will support tree crops, the soil-conserving permanent agriculture.
Contact us if you wish to receive an e-mail when chestnuts are available or when the pick your own harvest is ready.
Charlie started planting chestnut
trees in 1995 on old farm ground north of Lawrence, Kansas. Following
organic practices from the start, the orchard has been
certified organic annually since 1998.
Growing up around wild black walnut trees in eastern Kansas, and being inspired by the visionary economist J. Russell Smith, author of Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, Charlie has always been driven to plant trees that produce food. Whether talking about erosion, water quality, dead zones or global warming, trees are part of the solution. "The more we learn about modern petrochemical-based agriculture,
the more convinced am I that tree crops offer a lifesaving, sustainable
path to the future."
Since cancer rates began to increase in the 1950s and '60's,
and pesticides and other synthetic farm chemicals showed up in ground
water and were implicated in the the poor health of farmers, it has
been Charlie's bedrock conviction that we would farm organically or not at
all. Chestnut Charlie's is certified organic by Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA).
We are proud members of the Chestnut Growers of America