On Cairncest Farm in Plainfield, two brothers, Edmund and Garth Brown, have resolved to eat only what they raise/grow/forage/hunt themselves for an entire year. Edible Finger Lakes is carrying biweekly updates from the Brown brothers as they embark on this food journey.
Food for a Year: September 17-October 1
I’ve spent the last nine months on a nut-free diet, not because of any allergy or intolerance, but because I arbitrarily decided to grow, hunt, barter or forage for all of my food through the whole calendar year of 2015. My farm specializes in pork and beef production, and while I’ve planted a few nut trees around the property, the harvest from them will not come for at least several more years. I don’t know anyone who grows a nut crop I could barter for… However, there is a nearby nursery whose owner is a woody plant aficionado. Twenty years ago he planted a grove of hazelnuts, which are really multi-stem shrubs, not trees. They’re mature and several members of his little copse bore nuts this year, and he was kind enough to let me come over and harvest.
I picked about 6 gallons of nut clusters when still in the their husks. After husking I had about 1 gallon of in-shell nuts. I put them in a household dehydrator for 48 hours to prevent mold, and now I’m enjoying hazelnuts for snacks here and there.
Hazels grow well in New York. The predominant disease that prevents them from being more widespread is Eastern Filbert Blight, but there are breeders who have bred resistance into their stock. So long as one purchases from a nursery with a guarantee against EFB loss, hazels are a wonderful addition to the yard, homestead and farm. I planted a few shrubs four years ago and now that I’ve tasted some local nuts I’m glad I did. I am going to plant many more next year. –Edmund
Brothers Edmund and Garth Brown are owner-operators of Cairncrest Farm in Plainfield, New York. They produce and sell grass-fed beef and pastured pork. They blog about their 2015 homegrown challenge here.
Read the last Food for a Year post here.
Photos by Normandy Alden