Late last summer, with two 99-year leases in place and our young nut & fruit trees slowly and steadily growing into abundant orchards, we decided it was time to start developing our processing facility. Growing the black walnuts, acorns, hickories, chestnuts, hazelnuts, cider pears and apples, aronia berries, and pawpaws is one thing (or, actually, it’s many things…). Making these crops into fine food products to be sold to market-goers and chefs is quite another thing.
We’re headed into not-very-well-charted territory in our effort to bring these uncommon crops to market. We can’t just go to Amazon.com and buy a continuous-feed black walnut cracker or chestnut sheller, for example. The equipment that does exist is often homemade by other nutty tinkerers and difficult to find for sale, let alone for testing and comparing with other options.
So, we set ourselves to researching and some R&D to explore various options and ideas for how to set up our processing facility. We decided to aim first for a large, powerful and versatile nut cracker that could crack a wide variety of nuts with minimal adjustments. We found the Patriot 600, which can handle up to 600 lbs. of nuts per hour. The cost was about $6000. This would allow us to easily crack any nut we wanted and begin to develop sorting (separating nut meat from shell pieces) methods, as well as begin to offer cracking services to other foragers and growers.
We turned to you all, our community of family, friends, customers and accomplices, to help make it happen. And you did! With your generosity and support, we succeed in raising enough funds to buy the cracker. We feel deeply grateful for your donations and, more importantly, for being a part of this wild vision we have for community that cares for each other and the earth for the long-term. You – whether you donated $5 or $500, or supported us with advice or encouragement or collaboration or by simply caring about what we’re up to – you are a critical piece of the Nutty Buddy Collective. We call our model ‘community-supported perennial agriculture’ because, for these slow-growing, long-lived, semi-wild and ecologically-regenerative crops and ways of growing to work, we need a village. Thank you for being a part of our nascent village and helping us take the next big step.
And there’s something else, too…now that you’ve helped us reach our goal, we’re excited to announce our next big thing. All the community support, research, conversation, and nut gathering, cracking, and snacking has inspired us to launch the…
Acornucopia is a place where folks can stroll in the shade of their backyards, parks, and farms, picking up nuts and to sell to their local nut depot, bringing health and wealth to people and planet. It’s a big vision and lots of fun. Check out the website!
And now, without further ado, here is the Patriot 600 nut cracker in action: