Hello all nut tree enthusiasts!

Let me introduce myself and get you up to speed on the work being done at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

My name is Gabriel Smith and I started at CCE Tompkins county as the Agroforestry Educator in April of this year (2023). My main directives right now are supporting hazelnut and chestnut growers, practitioners of agroforestry, and promoting silvopasture and alley cropping specifically - 2 of the 5 USDA agroforestry practices. (If you are interested in agroforestry or are already using it, please email me at gs735@cornell.edu.)

The short story is that I get to work to compile best management practices for hazelnut and chestnut producers, identify plant material that is promising for future needs of the NY nut growing community, record innovative models (biological, economical, managerial), and facilitate farmer to farmer experiences for communication, sharing, and learning. CCE has also worked to help get better processing equipment for nut growing cooperatives. Everything is geared towards supporting those interested in growing nut crops, helping those already in the industry, and making it easier for the industry to expand.

The coming months, in particular, are important for this work. Starting this July through the fall we will carry out visual assessments of trees that could be potential candidates for propagation. This will set us up for long term monitoring through which we hope to measure and track various characteristics of the nuts.

At this juncture, we are looking for feedback on what growers are looking for in a 'good nut tree'. We know that what a backyard grower wants might be different from a larger commercial grower, and we want to know both. In general we are looking for trees that are blight resistant and are good producers. We are very interested if those trees are 12 years or older. If you have a tree that you like and would be interested in helping CCE in its efforts to support chestnut and hazelnut growers in NY then let me know!

There is also a grower survey where you can help us assess the current state of producers in the area.

We hope to be able to help facilitate the growth of this community and support you all through our work in the agriculture team at CCE.

We will be hosting two events, in August and September, looking at chestnut and hazelnut lineage and propagation, and scaling up processing and infrastructure to meet expansion of production. We will also be hosting an agroforestry event in the fall. Look out for more details to come!

Thanks and nice to meet you!

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