Great Lakes Permaculture Portal

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Growing Michigan Nuts – MNGA

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.

michigan nut growing by-laws

The meeting started with a riveting discussion led by association president Mike Dority of by-laws and how to develop fair ways to include members in association business without spending so much time at meetings talking about by-laws.

Mihcigan Nut Grower Trevor Newman

Trevor Newman, MNGA director-at-large, gave a talk on the edible landscaping and ecological education work he does with his companies Roots to Fruits and the Fruit Nut. Here he discusses guild plantings around orchard trees.

michigan nut based baked goods

For the pot luck, members brought a variety of delectable baked goods made using nut flours. These products are naturally gluten free.

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.

first place nuts

The association holds a nut evaluation competition in winter. Awards were given at the meeting to the winners. This competition helps identify superior genetics for propagation. The meeting also included a scion exchange to share genetics between members.

Michigan Nuts on auction

The meeting ended with an auction to support the association. Items included nuts, seedling trees, as well as tools for orcharding and propagation. The auction is a major source of income for the association, as they keep membership fees at a very reasonable rate so everyone can be a part of the association.

 

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:

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