What species of chestnuts are there?
Chestnuts are in the genus Castanea and in the Beech/Oak family.
- American chestnut - Castanea dentata
- American chinkapin/Dwarf Chestnut - Castanea pumila
- European chestnut - Castanea sativa
- Chinese chestnut - Castanea mollissima
- Chinese chinkapin - Castanea henryi
- Seguin’s chestnut - Castanea seguinii
- Korean chestnut - Castanea crenata
What kind of chestnuts do you recommend planting?
A mix. Restoration is a good value, but honestly, we're more interested in getting Beech-family food production out in the world in order to replace our dependence on grain agriculture. Most northern-hemisphere ecosystems have included beech-family systems: from the Oak-Savanna of the west coast, to the dense chestnut forests of New England, to the European civilizations that grow out of chestnut agriculture. If you live in the places where the American Chestnut lived and the climate is still the same after climate change, go for it.
We're growing mixes of European, American, Chinese chestnuts to ensure a wide genetic diversity and a grex of organisms that can adapt to a lot of locations. They aren't that far apart in evolutionary terms.
The American chestnut is very vulnerable to blight and there are not many left.
What are your top three cultivars?
We're still learning. For our personal planting this year, we're using mostly Belle Epine. But we're hoping to breed out of cultivars, because the notion of a cultivar is pretty problematic.
Are you selling chestnuts? Can you bring chestnuts to me and plant them?
We aren't selling chestnuts, and we probably can't come help you plant nuts. We are not a chestnut supplier. Our goal for this project is to help groups around the country and internationally organize to acquire and plant their own nuts. We are here to help with this process as much as we can, but acquiring and planting nuts will be up to you and your community.
Where can I get chestnuts?
Here is a list we’ve compiled of chestnut sources. No guarantee they are still open/good quality/haven't sold out for the season.
You can also harvest them yourself!
Where do you plan to plant all your chestnuts?
Our plan is to establish easily-accessible chestnut nurseries within/near cities: everywhere from backyards to parking strips to church properties to schools to parks to municipal buildings. Over the next year we will be looking for places to plant that are publicly available.
Because of the pandemic, we are relying mostly on people willing to do small 4 x 4 planting beds until trees are ready to be placed in the locations listed above. One of these beds can accommodate 20 chestnuts for a year.
Our hope is that these final planting locations will be catalogued and tended, and that many will be incorporated into Food Cooperative efforts.
Do you have recommendations for taking care of chestnuts?
Please see our planting guide (coming soon).
What will keep the chestnuts you're planting from being wiped out by blight?
When should I be planting chestnuts?
Is it feasible to plant chestnuts in my location?
We've selected chestnuts for this project in part because they can grow in many places, but they may or may not be feasible for your location. You may need to do some research to find out.
Can you recommend resources for starting a chestnut nursery?
Can you recommend resources about how Indigenous Americans built the American chestnut forests?
Can you advise best practices for creating/maintaining a compost pile?