Nutty Buddy Collective
Ileana Grams Moog Orchard Proposal
“Nut growing is in advance of the times, but the times are soon to catch up.”
The Nutty Buddy Collective (NBC), utilizing it’s depth of experience, enthusiasm and resources, will create an overlay of orchards over the two existing hay/ pasture fields (approximately 4 acres total). For compensation of letting NBC plant, maintain, and harvest crops from trees, the lessor will receive a royalty, or percentage of the harvests. In order to assure a stable working relationship, a 99 year lease is sought to ensure both parties interests are maintained.
The lessor’s desires for their family property may include the following:
1.) Personal benefits:
- Having access to healthy nutritious food for their family and friends
- Derive more income from the land
- Maintain and possibly expand agricultural tax status
- Improve the value of their land
- Have projects that might be engaging to future generations so they take an interest in interacting with and maintaining the family property
2.) Benefits to your community:
- Creating and maintaining local wealth as a producer and processor
- Contributing to the community foodshed with excess harvests
- Improvement of the environment through species diversification and beneficial wildlife habitat
- Engage in a dynamic economic model of collaborative partnership.
- Mentoring of new young farmers
- Maintaining aesthetics and relevancy of the rural countryside
3.) Benefits to humankind and the world:
- Supporting a model of low maintenance permanent agriculture
- Sequestering carbon and preserving soil
- Improvement of native tree crop through breeding and selection for local adaptation and usefulness to humans over a long span of time
The NBC proposal to plant edible orchards on leased land is an opportunity for landowners who may or may not be actively farming their land to have healthy food grown for their consumption in a way that improves the quality of the land they own. It is our intention to be net producers that will have years of bumper crops so that extra food can be shared and income can be had. Because orchard trees need so much space it is not difficult to fill large tracts of land, thereby expanding agricultural tax status. Generally speaking, declared income of 1000.00 or more must be produced from the farm to achieve tax exempt status. Depending on the scale and design of site-appropriate tree plantings, it may take 4 to 10 years to derive this much income. Christmas tree production, an already established precedent, take seven years to yield a return and it is understood by the tax office that income will be delayed. At the end of seven years, more than 1000.00 must be declared for tax status to be granted throughout the entire time. Nut trees live for hundreds of years, so tax status is maintained indefinitely as long as crops are harvested and sold.
It is universal pleasure that is brought to those who are around trees. This fact alone improves the value of land that support trees. Useful food producing trees up the value another notch. These not only attract wildlife, they also attract family and friends. We want our children to take an interest in our farms, but how to make a rural farm attractive to adolescent children and young adults is a tough nut to crack and one NBC cannot provide a definite solution for. We can improve the odds however. Certainly, the more diversity of projects that are happening on the farm, the more alluring it might be. Perhaps fresh fruits available at vacation times and fall harvests that can be enjoyed throughout the winter will help the younger generation value the land their family owns. Often old-timers relish the memories of a favorite apple, cherry, or pear tree that they spent much of their youth climbing in and eating from its fruits, and shooting squirrels from them.
Benefits to our community
Farming produces pure wealth. With soil, water, sun, human labor, products are grown, harvested, and sold or traded producing wealth that did not previously exist. Since America is no longer a producer country our inherent wealth is going overseas. Our national, and especially local rural economies are beleaguered resulting in rising prices in hard goods like food. The quality of these “goods” we can buy has declined over our lifetimes. Americans have limited access of not only locally produced food, but of healthy, quality food grown in ways that are sustainable and actually benefit the environment from which they are produced. These are in high demand and rising value. As a result, there has been a groundswell of locally grown food in the form of annual vegetables and animal meats whose production does not take long to establish. In contrast, the tree fruit crops which take years to establish have been in decline. Nut crops and chemical-free fruits are virtually non existent. It is very difficult for a landless young person with aspirations of farming to get started because of the expense of land. If they are able to acquire land, the mortgage is such that a large amount of income must be generated in short order in order to satisfy the demands of the banks that have loaned the money to the farmer. This is not new and little has changed. The result beholds a farmer to an extractive agriculture that has a high production rate, but degrades the land rapidly. This is why few long-term perennial food crops like nuts and tree fruits are ever planted. Nuts especially provide rich and necessary proteins, fats, and starches to the human diet rivaling, and in appropriate locations, surpassing the production of high input staple annuals. Because we are working with native fruits and nuts there is little or no need for the crutches of chemical pesticides as they already grow in our region with out the interventions of man. And because we are working with perennials there is no need for continual soil disturbance that leads to erosion and the constant inputting of fuel, fertilizer and free time.
Life thrives in relationship. It is to our benefit to further the enhancement of our orchards by supporting the the relationship of native beneficial flora and fauna by planting flowers, creating habitat, and general support of natural diversity. “Economics” is just another word for “relationship”. NBC is a collective of five people sharing the work and benefits of our project equally. We believe in the idea that innovation and incentive are best cultivated in individuals when they work in a group and derive their fair share of the rewards. We understand that what is best for the group may not benefit the individuals in the short run, but it will in the long run. There is flexibility in our model for the landowner to engage in this partnership as it suits their interest and energy level and we welcome cultivating that relationship.
Farming is a craft. Crafts develop best when handed down from experienced mentors. This enables the next generation to spend less time wasted on making the same mistakes the previous generation made, freeing them up to carry the work forward. NBC is a collective of 5 individuals. Uniquely, we have not set up as a business-as-usual hierarchy, but rather have structured as partners, although our experience level is quite different (see bios below). We consist of one farmer with 30 years experience, and four young aspiring farmers. This benefits the long range vision of the project by providing for succession. It may be 25 years before the nut trees are really in full swing, and 50 years before we have developed new varieties of trees, and by having a succession of experienced farmers passing down their knowledge the project will best be supported through the ages. It is through this relationship that the resiliency needed for long term projects has a chance. The previous models of individual proprietors have proved limited in longevity historically. This empowering of the youth as responsible stewards who can make a healthy living from the land has to play a crucial role if we are to revitalize relevancy to bucolic American agriculture and the rural landscapes they nestle in.
Benefits to humankind and the world
By the 1970’s an average of half the topsoil in the Midwest had eroded away due to conventional agriculture. The demands of current agriculture have only been increased. Our model of developing perennial tree crops that utilize native and hardy species that are well adapted to our region means that they will need little if any inputs. We lightly till the soil to plant the trees and after that they are mostly on their own. Since there is no quick profits to made from this practice there is little research being done and less being practiced. It is up to us as individuals to work together to initiate new projects that will feed a healthy world. We have the heart, knowledge, resources, energy and time, are you interested in providing the land? The tilling of soil creates enormous plumes of carbon dioxide not only from the machines but more significantly from the decomposing microbes in the soil. Annually, huge amounts of soil are carried off by wind and water while inputted soluble chemicals are saturating the soil and leaching into, and toxifying aquifers, water systems, and the Gulf of Mexico. Food is less nutritious and of poorer taste than ever. Perennial tree crops are supported by large banks of woody trunked trees. Growing these giants sequesters large amounts of carbon for 100’s of years from the air and builds soil over that time. The more soil that builds, the more plants can grow and produce food which means the more carbon that can be sequestered … on and on. A positive feedback loop is created and mankind is the beneficiary.
NBC is associated with a longstanding organization called the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) that has been collecting the very best genetics of native nuts and fruits in America and developing the skills to maintain them in a productive orchard setting for over 100 years. With this greater foundation of experienced mentors and material from which to plant, we have a unique opportunity to carry forward the work of these intrepid explorers in a time where healthy, environmentally friendly new foods are in high demand. We will be starting out with select native black walnuts varieties that crack out meat in 1/4 of the time with a considerably higher proportion of meat to shell ratio than that of common black walnuts; and hickory nuts that will crack out in halves like a pecan, etc. Since harvest and processing are such a huge part of nut orcharding these efficiency features give us an enormous competitive edge in the market. (Provided there would be any competition in the future). One of the long term directives of the NBC is to continue developing improved genetics through breeding the best of what exists now and selecting for adaptability, better taste, higher overall quality of food produced and ease of processing. This not only is good for us but also how we contribute to mankind. In order to optimize this, it will be in our interests to continue soil improvement with amendments such as lime, mineral inputs and organic matter.
Most exciting is the innovative spirit in which we initiate this project. There are few and far between who are willing to invest in such a long term endeavor such as planting orchards, let alone orchards of nut trees. The key piece is land access as it is nearly impossible to plant long term crops like nut trees and make payments on a mortgage. This is why we are looking for partnerships with people who own land and would benefit from the enhancement of their land through the development of long term orchards. Planting, growing, harvesting and genetic improvement of nut trees is an intergenerational project. One person cannot carry this work forward effectively, nor will financially driven institutions. We don’t live long enough and they don’t have the motivation or vision so it is not being done. Our model of a collective partnership is a model of cooperation amongst our group as well as the landowner. This plan draws from the diverse strengths of a number of people, guaranteeing that there won’t be large disruptions if one person is incapacitated. This will perpetuate throughout the generations like the succession of trees in the forest. Always there are young trees ready to fill in the gaps of the larger ones that fall. We hope that this proves to be of more interest, satisfaction, and profit (as well as better taste!) than merely receiving a modest check for hay rental every year.
Who we are collectively
Bill Whipple, 51 years old, after completing a one year degree in agriculture at Sterling college in 1983 he has owned his farm in the rural mountains of WV for 30 years in a geography nearly duplicate of western NC. 27 years ago he began planting 7 acres of fruits and nuts, grows them chemical-free, and sells the harvests at a premium in markets around Asheville. He cannot come close to meeting the region’s demand for well grown chemical-free fruits and nuts. He is the inventor and maker of the Wiplstix violin.
Ramin Sadeghian, 34 years old, has worked as general manager for a skin cancer clinic in North Asheville since 2010 specializing in human resources, operations management & quality control. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering which was followed by a master’s degree in business. His work history began in corporate manufacturing and moved on to several entrepreneurial ventures before settling into dermatology. He owns a home with his partner in the heart of West Asheville. Ramin supports community gardens at Francine Delaney elementary school and Vermont park as well as volunteers with the Buncombe Fruit & Nut Club and Bee City Asheville. He enjoys local art, live theater, and craft beer. He fell in love with tree crops during childhood summers in Iran where culture celebrates seasonal fruits and nuts from neighborhood trees and bazaars.
Tom Celona, 29 years old, believes that our community needs creative and diverse solutions to strengthen our perennial food infrastructure. He has been helping care for tree’s in public spaces with the Buncombe County Fruit and Nut Club since 2010, has co-owned and operated Nutty Buddy Nurseries since 2012, and been a partner of the Nutty Buddy Collective since 2014. Professionally, Tom has worked as an energy efficiency consultant working with electric and gas utilities for 7 years. Before that, he performed energy audits on commercial and residential buildings and helped design a net-positive energy home. His formal training is a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering. He is a homeowner in Asheville, has three cats, five chickens and a loving partner who happily puts up with him using every possible space as an experiment.
Greg Mosser, 36, has a B.S. in Biology & Environmental Science from Antioch College in 2000. He grew up working in his family’s orchard and gardens. He worked for several years for a family farm stand in Vermont, where he managed a store, helped with a large maple sugaring operation and a large apple cider operation, did a lot of greenhouse work and also helped out in the orchards. More recently he’s been studying permaculture and perennial food systems. He’s very interested in bringing more perennial foods to local tables, including fruits, nuts, tubers and perennial vegetables. He has been the manager of the Deli, Meat, and Cheese departments at the French Broad Food Co-op since 2008.
Justin Holt, 29 years old, holds a permaculture design certificate and is proprietor of Kudzu Cowboy Landcare, a permaculture design and landscaping company based in Asheville. He has worked as manager of a community and educational garden, volunteers as a member of the Buncombe Fruit and Nut Club to tend public-access food plantings, serves on the board of the North American Fruit Explorers, and is co-owner of Nutty Buddy Nurseries, a nursery offering fruit and nut trees and shrubs.