Hazel Faze

Perennial crops have always been something of an enticing wonder to me.  I enjoyed my garden growing up, tending potatoes and the like on the farm.  But I also really enjoyed the apples and razberries and treasured winter jams.  But it didn’t take long to realize how lucky that was.  Many people that leave home and enter the renters world never fully grasp what they’re missing.  For ten plus years, I threw money at landlords never to see it again.  The spaces that I rented were often not enough to grow anything and usually crowded with sidewalks, trees and assorted trash.   And if there was space to plant something I had to really pour it on to get it and promise to “rip it out” when I departed.  And that was assuming you’d be there long enough to reap those long term rewards anyhow.  Oh the woes of a farmer living in the confinement of city life and not being able explore things more intimately plant-wise.
This is certainly the year though to change that.  As Kass, Japser and I wrap up our first year here at Wild Abundance Farm, I turn towards the plants that grace this farmstead we’ve landed at.   People that started it all and have lived here, probably can’t see what I see.  It’s slowly ramped up for them to what it is now because perennial plants take patience to build up their energy and infrastructure for long-term production.  For me I visited years ago, when things were small.  Today I can step out and can harvest gallons of berries and nuts that’ll keep on giving!    What an opportunity to seize and enjoy!  Many thanks to those so thoughtful to plant delicious food.
Something we didn’t have growing up was nuts.  Here at WAF, the nut in abundance is Hazelnuts.  These are the large bushes you see when you pull into the driveway.  Five plus years in the making these large hedges and starting to hit their production and showing us what their capable of, which is amazing to witness.  Hazelnuts, as some might know, are the exciting ingredient in many people’s favorite spread.  They’re also known for their superior oil value which is comparable to olive oil.   But you’ll notice these plants are different from those trees grown across seas.  Here we grow American Hazelnuts, a relative of the more traditional kind.  Sadly, like chestnuts, European hazels suffer from an endemic disease here called blight.  But the American species is resistant has been cross-bred to produce delicious resilient breeding stock.  Walking along these plants, you’ll see a genetics experiment at work.  Every plant a diverse individual, each having different attributes.
This is the first year we’ve been able to harvest them well and are excited by the process.   Plants set nuts early in the season and start to ripen around late Aug.  From then on out its a game to find plants that are ripening quickly and beating the animals to the punch!  This year we were prepared and gathered many buckets of nuts.  They’re usually packed together 3-5 nuts in a cluster.  After gathering, you dry them a bit to help ripen them and loosen them from the husk.  Store these nuts until you’re ready to gather round the fire or at a card game and start crackin em open.  We’re certainly excited to relish this bounty and begin stewarding them more carefully.  Swing out this SUNDAY, Oct. 15th, for our Fall Fest and try some of their delicious flavor!  Festivities start around 3:30pm.  Seeya then!
~ Clint, October 12th, 2017