Since 2013, we’ve been importing what we believe are the best chestnut, and hazelnut trees, for Ontario. These are hardy trees (at least Zone 4) selected for blight resistance, early flowering, large nuts, high yields, and resilience against pests in no-spray situations. We also offer bulk Korean Nut Pines (for windbreaks and pine nuts), and Elderberries (for medicinal and culinary uses).
For farmers, chestnuts and hazelnuts can be an ecological approach to some premium crops.
For those with less land, chestnuts and hazelnuts can be a delightful supplement to their diet, or pocketbook.
Did you know that chestnuts have a really similar nutritional profile to corn, and hazelnuts have a really similar nutritional profile to soybeans? Both can be adapted to mechanical harvest techniques, just like corn and beans, but you only have to plant them once. After they’re established, they just get more productive year after year for decades. When you combine techniques from forest gardening and permaculture (as described below), you can multiply your yields by adding berry crops, culinary and medicinal herbs, that grow alongside the nut trees as they establish.
Hazelnuts are a growing crop in Ontario, with support from the Ontario Hazelnut Association, and Fererro, which has established a confectionary plant in Brantford, and are looking to buy Ontario hazelnuts. Beyond the larger-scale confectionary industry, hazelnuts have tremendous potential as a direct-marketed or specialty product, whether at a farm store or farmers market. As of March 2019, a bag of in-shell hazels is selling for $18 per kg. There are also loads of ideas for niche products, such as hazelnut tofu. Even if you sell all your hazelnuts for mixed nuts, the chances are high that nuts are always going to be a premium commodity over corn, beans, and wheat.
The hybrid hazelnuts trees we import are from robust hardy stock that’s highly tolerant and resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight, and have been producing reliably in Zone 4 near Viola, Wisconsin for twelve years. They have been selected for youthful bearing, high yields, pest and disease resistance, and suitability for low-input and certified organic conditions. Why choose hybrid hazels over clonal varieties for some of your plantings? See more below.
Many people don’t realize we can grow chestnuts in Ontario. This is probably because of the Chestnut Blight that wiped out almost all the American Chestnuts several hundred years ago. Fortunately, there are some blight resistant, and potentially blight immune, chestnuts available for planting.
Most grocery store chestnuts are currently imported, but you canfind them sometimes at local farmer’s markets. It can be worth it to hand-pick them off the ground, but pull-behind nut sweepers are an easy option. Currently for sale for $18.50 for bagged un-shelled, like hazelnuts, these are a lucrative crop. Ideas for niche products include gluten-free flour, or pasta, and a whole range of traditional European confections.
Our hybrid chestnuts also come from Zone 4, near Viola, Wisconsin. They include genetics from a variety of blight resistant or immune breeding programs. The breeding goals are high yields, large nuts, pest and disease resistance and suitability for low-input and certified organic conditions. Note that these nuts will not typically be as large as Chinese chestnuts, but Chinese Chestnuts are hardy in only limited parts of Ontario.
Unfortunately, we are sold out of Chestnuts for 2019. We expect to have lots for sale in 2020.
We also import Korean Nut Pines and Elderberries. Nut pines, because they make such great windbreaks and are hard to find in bulk in Ontario, and elderberries because they are such a great crop for medicinal and culinary products, yet grow easily in swampy and wet areas, and are native species.
Make your own pesto, and/or sell perhaps the most lucrative nut of them all. Currently going for $25 for 227 g (That’s around $100/kg), pine nuts make a terrific tree for windbreaks, since they get big and dense (really similar to White Pines), and yet also have a bonus luxury crop. Down the road, someone is going to thank you for calming the winds on the fields/roads, plus, in this case, you might like to harvest the pine nuts.
Pine nuts are another one of those premium crops that are super expensive at the store. Imagine bringing them to a local farmer’s market, or even getting some of yours for sale in a health food store. You could even save the work of harvesting the seeds to someone else – sell the cones as novelty bird feed at a farmers market or craft show. A nice little extra side-crop from space used for a windbreak.
We’ve brought these in before – like all the stock we import, they are excellent quality, and already pretty well-established (a couple of feet tall with plentiful roots). Elderberries are made into medicinal syrups to combat winter colds, and also famously used in elderberry pie. The flowers are an awesome plant for herbal tea, and and even the stems, because they are hollow, can be made into little whistles or even spiles for maple sap collection.
One of the great things about them, is instead of worrying about drying up a persistent wet spot, you can just plant these in it. They’ll produce a crop which you might have to wade in to collect, but since they are native species, you can even plant them responsibly in naturalized areas. If you don’t care to harvest them, or like to share, like us, you can leave some or most of the berries for the birds and other animals, which love them.
We import our trees from Forest Agriculture Nursery, run by Mark Shepard, located near Viola, Wisconsin (Zone 4). When first getting into nut trees about ten years ago, and researching about where to source chestnut and hazelnut trees, we learned of Mark Shepard’s book Restoration Agriculture. In that book, he puts forward a vision of transitioning our current farming system, which relies on annual crops, toward perennial crops. The basic idea is to keep farmers making money while making choices that are good for the planet. Mark has been selecting breeding stock of hazelnuts and chestnuts for two decades, and was selling nut trees grown from seed of these proven producers. We started jumping through the hoops to import these trees into Ontario, partially selfishly, so we can plant them, and partially because we want to share the opportunity with you, to buy some for your home or farm.
The trees are from seeds on Mark’s home farm, and fields run in collaboration with university research programs. They are grown out at professional nurseries, and come to you bare-root with really well developed roots, and typically 1′-2′ of stem and branches, sometimes more.
What makes his breeding program unique?
Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC, founder of Restoration Agriculture Development LLC and award-winning author of the book, Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers. Mark has also been a farmer member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the worlds largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, since 1995. He is most widely known as the founder of New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.
New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland and eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce food (for humans and animals), fuel, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind powered and farm equipment is capable of being powered with locally produced biofuels.
Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of forest derived agricultural products for human foods and bio fuels production.
Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement. He teaches agroforestry and Permaculture worldwide.
We import two different types of hybrid hazelnuts. Here’s some information directly from Mark Shepard to help you decide which one is for you. The short version is that the Controlled-Cross Hazelnuts are likely to be better producers, but that planting one Selected for every Controlled-Cross is good for pollination. Controlled-Cross cost slightly more, and we currently import more of them.
It’s the name of our nursery, and in case you don’t know what we mean, we better tell you!
Forest Gardening is an approach to gardening and farming that comes out of permaculture. Forest Gardening focuses on polycultures, instead of monocultures, and therefore looks at multiple yields from the same acreage using ideas observed in natural ecosystems. Mark Shepard calls his approach restoration agriculture, and it’s highly adapted to farming on larger acreages. Shantree and Rob prefer the term forest gardening, mostly because we are both gardeners who love forests!
Permaculture started in Australia in the 1970s, initially as a way to design agricultural systems based on ecological principles, and has since become an international movement to design for all human needs using techniques that are not just sustainable, but regenerative – that is, they make the planet better, instead of depleting it.
There are lots of books on forest gardening and permaculture, as well as courses, camps, and workshops. Shantree’s other business, The Living Centre, offers training and mentorships in permaculture and forest gardening, and Rob’s other business, Willow Creek Farm, has Permaculture Family Camp, which lets family come out and learn about permaculture, modern homesteading, holistic parenting, all while also camping on a farm with their family.
When purchased in bundles of 25, the price per tree is listed below.
NOTE – Prices subject to change for spring 2020.
Thinking of ordering more than 500?
We give a discount of 50 cents per tree when you buy at between 500 and 975 trees.
If you buy over 1000 trees, we’ll give you a full dollar off per tree.
That’s a great deal.
Fine print: We can’t include nut pines in this sale, because they are already such a good deal. The actual savings are 4.2% off and 8.4% off your totals, which works out to just a bit more savings for you.
Orders are done online through PayPal secure checkout, and are picked up at near London, Ontario in late April or early May. As we get closer to the date, we’re in touch with you by email to let you know when the trees arrive, and have been inspected by CFIA, and are ready for pick-up.
With orders over 500, we will consider alternate pick-up options. Be in touch by email or phone to find out more.
If you are not comfortable paying online through PayPal, and we can consider other options.
Phone: 519-762-3398 (Ask for Rob.)
Our supplier is running out of trees every year. We’ve been selling out too.
They are super popular across North America, and we’re the exclusive importer into Ontario.
If you want to add some to your planting this spring, please get your order in soon.