We’re a little nuts about nuts here at GLPP! These perennial staple crops are the most appropriate species to base a permanent agriculture in the great lakes bio-region upon. Prior to settlement, our region was almost completely covered in forest.
This forest ecology creates a base pattern, the use of wood based products to meet our needs, to follow in development of our own regenerative agricultural systems. Nut species are excellent sources of food, oil, lumber, firewood, dyes and other products. They also constitute a number of the dominant forest tree species our in our bio-region.
The culture and care of nut trees is not always straight forward. Some varieties produce quickly, while others take years before producing. Different species have different soil and water preferences. Disease can be a concern. Propagation also takes skill and varies from species to species.
Luckily, folks around the bio-region have been cultivating nut trees since before European exploration. In the past hundred years, a number of associations have been formed to share knowledge about the growth habit and culture of nut trees. The Michigan Nut Growers Association (MNGA) is one of those organizations.
Open to all varieties of nut and fruit enthusiasts, from backyard growers to commercial operators, MNGA brings together a wealth of knowledge about growing these perennial crops in Michigan. MNGA holds three meetings a year, here the spring 2014 meeting is highlighted.
After lunch Bill Nash of Nash Nurseries gave a presentation on nuts and rare fruits that can be grown in Michigan, as well as talking about their many uses and adaptations in cultures across the world. Here he talks about the origins of the “English” walnut.
To learn more about the MNGA visit their website. The summer meeting is on July 13th.
Other groups of nut growers in the region include:
- Northern Nut Growers Association: “brings together people interested in growing nut trees”
- Indiana Nut Growers Association: “dedicated to the culture of Indiana hardy nut and fruit trees, their advancement and helping those interested in cultivating them.”
- Illinois Nut Tree Association
- NY Nut Growers Association: “to educate people on the benefits of nut trees and to provide cultural information to assist in growing nut trees for crops and timber.”
- Ohio Nut Growers Association: “to provide educational, scientific, tree grafting, pollination, marketing and other information to members.
- Society of Ontario Nut Growers: “dedicated to the promotion of nut trees as a source of enjoyment, food, timber and a host of byproducts.”
- Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association: “dedicated to assisting Pennsylvania Nut Growers in developing better quality nut trees.”
- The Midwest Nut Producers Council: “to enhance the regionâ€™s commercial nut industry through education, research and promotion of nuts and the tree species and varieties that bear nuts.”
- Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative: “a collaboration of growers and researchers working to develop a sustainable hazelnut industry in the Upper Midwest.” (see article)