Chestnuts were considered to be America’s “perfect tree” because of the high quality of their nuts and wood, but an imported blight nearly eradicated the species by the early 1900s. Resistance has been bred back into the crop, though, and it’s now being planted by farms in agroforestry systems in places like the U.S. Midwest, which sell nuts to the huge international market and, increasingly, to Americans as well. Agroforestry systems combine woody trees and shrubs with annual crops and livestock to create a sustainable agriculture method that increases farms’ economic resilience, boosts biodiversity, stems soil erosion, and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere to slow the effects of climate change. A new report, “Overcoming bottlenecks in the Eastern U.S. chestnut industry,” by agroforestry experts with the Savanna Institute offers a roadmap for farmers and marketers who wish to join this growing global market. When Americans hear the word chestnuts, they might conjure images of snowy, holiday evenings and roaring fires. But for most of the world, chestnuts are part of the daily diet. Cooks in some countries use the nut as a starchy substitute, while others treat chestnuts as an ingredient in decadent desserts. This global demand means that […]
Chestnuts and chestnut bur on wooden table.