Up until the early 1900’s, our land, like much of the United States, was dominated by chestnut trees towering up to 100 feet tall with a 14 foot diameter trunk. These behemoths fed the Native American tribe living at the tributary of Whitehall Reservoir as well as thousands of deer and other wildlife. However, after the introduction of the blight in 1904 the population of chestnuts rapidly diminished. At their peak, chestnuts made up about one in every four hardwood trees in the country. Now, except for a few small enclaves, the American chestnut is all but gone, though hope is not lost. The blight does not impact the tree’s root system and American chestnuts still pop up throughout our forests and with the work of scientists, researchers, and hobbyists alike, a blight resistant American chestnut is still a possibility for the future. To assist the land in returning to its natural state, we have re-planted a section of the property with blight-resistant chestnut trees. Chestnut flour is both healthier and less allergenic than modern wheat and can be readily consumed by those unable to eat gluten.
Below our chestnuts we have planted a variety of hazelnuts and other perennials. These hazelnuts offer a perfect complement to the starchy, bread-like quality of chestnuts as the oil derived from hazelnuts has the greatest percentage of monounsaturated fats, making it one of the all-around healthiest, safest and tastiest oil available for consumption today. While currently hazelnut oil is difficult to find and expensive if you do there are a small number of perennial nut farmers in MA who hope to change that. While we are currently building our nut orchards, which takes time, once established these forests will require little maintenance in order to be incredibly productive. Once established, perennial tree crops, particularly those bearing nuts, require little human intervention to remain healthy and bear highly nutritious, versatile nuts that can be processed into a myriad of products. Combined, chestnuts and hazelnuts, are a potent pair, that despite taking a few years to reach commercial viability, are well worth the investment and can provide an exceptional amount of high quality and nutritious food while being resistant to the pressures of an increasingly hostile climate.
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