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In Praise of Pruning

We’re in late winter now and it’s high time to get up into the canopy of your fruit and nut trees and give them their seasonal spruce up. A judicious pruning is probably the best thing you can do to keep fruit trees healthy and productive.

The Nutty Buddy Collective is offering pruning, grafting, and general fruit tree care services, as well as orchard design and consultation services. If you’re looking to hire some help with your trees or plans for trees, send an email for more info: nuttybuddycollective@gmail.com

And a few more words on the subject:

I really love pruning. There are lots of resources out there that will give you rules for how it should be done, but I’ve found it’s really more art than science. And unlike canvas or clay, a tree is active and has a ‘mind’ of its own, acting according to established patterns of growth, in response to what’s going on around it, according to its own schedule and maturation. When pruning, we need to take into consideration so many things: present and potential diseases, pests and other hazards to the tree, the tree’s likely response to pruning cuts, the tree’s current growth phase and how that interacts with the seasonal cycle, what the goals and needs are of the people caring for the tree, the shape of the tree and of negative space, the physical aspect of how the pruner’s and tree’s bodies interact to make a cut possible…

You can follow a protocol to navigate this tangle of considerations, and I do to an extent, but it’s the kind of thing that ultimately needs to become intuitive if you’re ever going to get around to all the trees in the orchard.

OK, now going out on an esoteric limb a bit: It’s a lovely thing, to interact with a tree from intuition. Speaking for myself – though I think it’s true for many of us – I know, rationally, from hearing and reading it from experts, that trees very much have what we can call intelligence, albeit a very different intelligence from the two-legged’s kind.  But this is a hard thing for me to feel, you know? They’re just so different from us, and I spend so much time caught in our anthropocentric echo chamber that it’s hard to stretch my empathy enough to connect with a tree and really sense its intelligence. Well, pruning helps get me there. It’s a bit counter-intuitive to think that cutting a tree is the thing that gets me to connect with it. Seems a little masochistic now that I say it that way. But I insist, it’s not. For one, cutting a limb is not like amputation. Trees evolved with a whole lot of disturbance; think of the pruning saw as modern mastodon incisors. And secondly, through considering and executing a pruning cut and going into that intuitive space I described, you have to focus and look closely at the whole tree, as well as interact with it in an pretty intimate and physical way, getting up in its limbs and even its crotches.

Whew…didn’t think a post on pruning would get so risque. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the act of pruning gets me to pay close attention to and interact closely with trees, to express my needs and desires to the tree and to try and understand what the tree wants and needs. This forces me to think more like a tree and allows me a glimpse of the depths beyond the objectified idea of ‘a tree’ that I otherwise tend to rely on.

There are also less romantic things I love about pruning. One is that it brings order. Which kinda gives that same satisfying feeling you get from cleaning the house or clipping your toenails or getting a haircut. There’s probably some multi-syllabic German word for it. 

Another is that pruning also often yields scionwood, depending on what you’re cutting. Scionwood is like a little rod of DNA, used to propagate and move around varieties of woody and semi-woody crops. Typically, the dormant, most-recent woody growth is used. If the tree you’re pruning grew well the previous year, you’ll likely have many yards of scionwood you can cut off of the prunings, and potentially 100’s of dormant buds. Whenever I’m pruning, I carry some tape and a marker and a plastic bag with a moist paper towel in it so I can collect any grafting material I may want. Grafting is a whole other ball of wax that I’m not going to smear any more of on this page, but maybe I’ll do a post on it soon.

-Justin

justin on ladder

look how happy this guy is to be pruning

ACORNUCOPIA SHELL-A-BRATION & TASTING PARTY WITH BILL

At Villagers in West Asheville on Wednesday, 11/14/18, 6:30-8:30pm

The Acornucopia Project has been coming up with creative new spins on the ancient native nuts that bless our woodlands. What would a world look like if we derived the four basic commodities of “grain”, oil, “dairy” and “meat” from perennial native trees? Could it look like acorn crackers? hickory oil chestnuts fritters? walnut cheese? hazelnut charcuterie? What we eat creates the world in which we live.

As the season’s light dims, many cultures focus on trees as the symbol of the abundance of life and rebirth. By mid November the tree nuts will have been gathered and cured, and we move into the season where we gather with friends and loved ones to give thanks for the abundance, and dream about how to cure the woes of the world. The Acornucopia Project is a decentralized network of nut trees, foragers, foodies, people concerned about their health, the health of their community, and the health of the environment and this is an invitation to dream big with us.

Let’s share all this abundance over a discussion of how working together promises to transform us from a world of corporations into a world of cooperation. Let’s revive and reboot the ancient village cooperation of foraging, processing and marketing of open source wild foods, and make good, wholesome, nutritional, perennial foods accessible.

$10 per person. Includes a $10 voucher for Acornucopia products (to be redeemed at the door). Please register in advance. Admission will be $20 at the door.

Register here at the Villagers website.

Nuttery and Nut Foraging Workshop 11/7

Click here for additional info and to RSVP

Hickories, Black Walnuts (yes, they’re more than just yard debris and hazardous tree bombs), Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans, and Acorns of all shapes and sizes, oh my!
You haven’t tasted anything until you’ve tried the robust, earthy flavor of a freshly pressed nut oil.

Join the Nutty Buddy Collective at The Nuttery at Smith Mill Works as we educate about how to forage for this wild treasure trove crop in your own backyard and what you can do with the nuts after you’ve collected them. Come learn more about their work and how you can get involved through Acornucopia Project.

What’s nuts is the idea that we can begin to transition to perennially plant based diets utilizing the beautiful native hardwood trees that make our environment so enjoyable. The Acornucopia Project is trying to get as many nuts as possible. The A.P. is a worker owned cooperative, and to cooperate with these workers is as easy as learning how to I.D. nut trees, observing them, knowing which trees can be profitably foraged, and how to care for the nuts post harvest.

In this class members of the Collective will illustrate the diversity of native nut trees we have, their many uses, value, simple tools and techniques needed for efficient harvesting, and what to do with them afterwards. After the class, we can take a short tour of our nut processing facility and you will leave with a $10.00 voucher you can cash-in for some fresh nut products and the capacity to have a supplemental income foraging for nuts. So come out and learn which ones can give you the most return bringing nutritious local food back to our community.

Let’s start rebuilding a world that is completely nuts!

There is a sliding scale fee for this class: $10.00 to $20.00
All proceeds go to help fun the efforts of Acornucopia project
Participants will get to take home a voucher good for 1 small bottle of wild nut oil (a $10.00 value) to be cashed in once this year’s crop starts getting processed in coming weeks.
Class is open to all ages – Children ages 12 and under are free.

Nut Season 2018!

The Nuttery at Smith Mill Works in launching this Sunday, 9/16 at noon!

Our hours will be:

12pm – 3pm on Sundays

5:30pm to 7pm on Wednesday

Read all about how to get nuts with us here, on our page dedicated to the project.

It’s likely Hurricane Florence is going to cause lots of windfall and maybe even wash lots of nuts away. The time to get squirrelly is now!

We’ll be at Villagers this Sunday, 5:30 to 7:30 to talk through the ins and outs of foraging nuts (and perhaps even go on a foray), and at Smith Mill Works next Wednesday evening doing the same thing. 

greg picking up chestnuts

The mast is fast, pick ’em quick!

 

Nut Tree Identification and Foraging Class at Villagers // 9.16.18, 5:30-7:30pm

It’s shaping up to be a fruitful nut season! Come learn how to get in on the foraging fun.

We’re continuing to explore this concept of a cooperatively run nut processing facility that could be the engine of a thriving regional tree crop economy. After last year’s first go at it, we learned a lot and are working to make the whole Acornucopia process, from tree to table, even more fun and enticing for everyone involved.

Acornucopia Project

Here’s the event on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2034112779973995/?active_tab=about

Here’s where you can register:

09.16.18 // What's Nuts? Tree ID and Foraging with Tom Celona // 5:30-7:30pm

The Acornucopia Project is gearing up for the fall foraging season! We’re trying to get as many nuts as possible by educating people on how to ID nut trees, understanding which ones can be profitably foraged, and how to care for the nuts post-harvest. In this class, Tom Celona, of the Nutty Buddy Collective, will illustrate the diversity of the native nut trees we have in WNC, their many uses, value, simple tools needed, efficient harvesting techniques, and what to do with them afterward. After the class, weather and nuts permitting, Tom will lead a foraging foray and we will gather nuts from trees in town. He will buy them from you on the spot, meaning that you could walk away from this class with money in hand and a voucher for more product! Imagine getting paid to take a class?

$10-20 per person, sliding scale. Includes $10 voucher for Acornucopia Project products.

Tom Celona is a community fruit and nut enthusiast who has been involved in growing food in public spaces for 8 years. He is one of the founding members of the Nutty Buddy Collective, a Nut and Fruit growing orchard business that works with landowners, creating long term agreements to produce local perennial food. The Nutty Buddy Collective is now growing a local Nuttery, where local harvesters can sell or trade their nuts to be processed.

**This Fall the Acornucopia Project is buying Acorns, Hickories, walnuts, chestnuts, and hazels so come out and learn which ones can give you the most return bringing nutritious local food back to our community. Let’s start rebuilding a world that is completely nuts.

A weekend of doing a whole lotta nuttin’

Brainstorming workshops on the next steps we can take 

to develop a new culture of small regional nut processing facilities together.

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The Quaker Oaks Tree Crop conference 

is going to be held in 

Blacksburg, Va September 14-16th

Come join the Acornucopia I-81 nut parade as we gather in Blacksburg for a camp out weekend focused on a collaboration of developing small regional nutteries. Asheville, Johnson City, Abingdon, Wytheville, Blacksburg, Roanoke, Lexington, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, and all their satellite communities are all along this major artery and we could be working together to create a new economy base around perennial tree crops supporting our local economies.

Weekend passes here- 30.00: 

A group campsite has been reserved at Boley Field just outside of Blacksburg in the Jefferson National Forest. Its is a beautiful location with lots of bike trails to explore. Tabla Rasa Restaurant will be catering  dinner Saturday night with awesome local organic food, and there will be potluck meals the rest of the weekend where food preparation is an exercise and a metaphor for sharing, creative collaboration, and working with what we have to feed everyone.

Just as the idea of cooking for 50 people is daunting, getting nuts from wild trees and creating food (Mast to mouth) is just too hard for individuals to take on as there are so many aspects to it. For the last 2 million years humans have worked together every Fall to reap the abundant harvests of the trees around them. Relying on each other is how we evolved to be human. Acornucopia is a  coalescence  of people who envision a world of mutually beneficial cooperatives. First we must gather and define a vision that is relevant for ourselves and our communities, and then see what talents people have to contribute. Needed are foragers, “nutworkers”, mechanics and tinkerers, marketers, teachers, artists, leaders, followers, nutritionists, computer savvy folks, cooks, value added entrepreneurs….. We have yet to find someone whose skills couldnt be utilized for getting highly nutritious nuts to the people who so badly are in need of them!

At the beginning of nut fall we will gather over the course of the third weekend in September 

and figure out what is the next step towards capturing this abundant resource that falls around us

The agenda will loosely be as follows:

1.) Learning which are the high value native nuts crops and identifying the trees they come from

2,) Scouting for these trees and what to look for when harvesting

3.) Techniques in gathering nuts, curing and getting to a hub/ processor

4.) Setting up a nut hub where nuts can be stabilized and safely held

If time and interest allows:

1.) Cooking with nuts/ what can be made from nuts

2.) Building markets for products

3.) “Show and smell”- sampling nuts, oils , flours, nut cheeses, etc

4.) Scaling up processing with efficient tools

5.) Completely nuts Talent show

6.) Mead Circle

7.) (???)

Within this framework we will gather in groups to discuss how to begin interfacing our communities with one another in supportive ways for a mutual goal. 

E.g. People who are tinkerers may gather around equipment development for curing nuts and processing, foragers may organize community forays, food people may gather with marketers and brainstorm about new product development, computer folks may get excited about developing foraging software aps, on and on…

…and you are needed.

This is going to fun, homespun, and s%^t is gonna get done.

Come as you are, come as you like , come and let’s go nuts

Tickets can be got:

 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/quaker-oaks-tree-crop-gathering-tickets-45404320545

For more info go to : https://www.acornucopiaproject.com/quaker-oaks

and 

https://www.acornucopiaproject.com/blog