Thank you for making our chestnut project a success. Twenty-two years ago, when we started planting at our Lawrence, Kansas, 20 acres, we possessed only the barest knowledge and no experience of chestnut culture. We trusted that growing trees was a righteous labor and chestnuts were a healthy, sustainable food crop that could be grown organically. It was more work than we had imagined and there have been some bumps along the way. But the enthusiastic customer response to our organic chestnuts, both locally and around the country, is reaffirming. Many people miss having good-quality fresh chestnuts and are delighted to find our farm. We have received many spontaneous expressions of praise and gratitude, which is our best reward. Thank you so much!
In J. Russell Smith's Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, first published in 1929, chestnuts were the prime example of a "soil-saving tree-crops type of agriculture." Since then we have also learned that trees reduce global warming by capturing and sequestering CO2. This triple benefit: soil conservation, environmental healing, and food production, motivates our continuing efforts to improve our chestnut orchard. And we are also proud that our orchard has provided supplemental employment for our local harvesters, without whom we could not bring our chestnuts to you.
Although our production was a bit less this year after last-year’s bumper crop, we expect the overall trend of increasing harvests to resume next year and for years to come. Demand is growing for American-grown chestnuts. A big thanks to our customers for making it possible to continue this work. We hope to hear from you in 2017.
Have a wonderful winter!
Local Retail Sales
The Community Mercantile and Checkers in Lawrence have our chestnuts. Also Whole Foods, Hen House and 888 International Store in the Kansas City area.
Many of the Whole Food stores in the Rocky Mountain region (including Kansas) should have our chestnuts up through Thanksgiving. Ask your local produce manager.
Open Harvest in Lincoln, NE, Wheatsville Coop in Austin, TX, and Rising Tide Coop in Damariscotta, ME are amoung the independent cooperatives which will have our chestnuts before Thanksgiving.
Chestnuts at your grocery We work closely with the grocers who sell our chestnuts, but not all grocers understand how to handle chestnuts. And thanks to Mel Torme and "The Christmas Song", this is time of year is when many Americans think of chestnuts. In fact, chestnuts in the Northern Hemisphere are all harvested earlier in the fall and have been stored until they hit the grocery shelf. Chestnuts are best stored refrigerated at about 32° with high humidity, and even then there is some drying and perhaps some molding. Some farmers, many shippers and even more grocers do not store chestnuts correctly. They treat them the same as walnuts and pecans, when they should be treated more like pears. Add to the problem, most U.S. suppliers are sold out of this season's crop and your grocer is likely bringing in chestnuts from Italy or Asia.
So, if you are buying chestnuts, we highly recommend that before you leave the store, cut into a few of them with the produce staff. We've heard story after story of internal mold and/or completely dried up nuts in late season purchases. There is no reason why you should pay for bad quality.
At Chestnut Charlie's we have made a commitment to hand harvesting our nuts. Besides providing jobs in our community, we avoid having to maintain yet another piece of heavy equipment! We are able to harvest daily rain or shine without compressing the soil and are able to leave prunings and other organic material on the ground. A win-win-win for the orchard, our helpers and our customers.
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