News from the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative
Recipes + ASFC Updates + Event Calendar
Collage by Eleanor Reagan.
Perennial Nuts Offer a Key to Our Food System
From the beginning (2008) we chose the word staple over grain in ASFC’s name, not only because nuts (and beans) are powerhouses of nutrition. Unlike the global impacts of corn, wheat, and soy crops, perennial nut trees are carbon sequesters, and ensure the integrity of the soil and water.
Nut cultivation holds a rich history in Appalachian culture and ecology, and came to be a major contributor to the region's economy. Indigenous peoples heavily relied on abundant native nuts for food and medicine alongside wildlife without exceeding environmental limitations.
From the onset of colonization, the hilly terrain of Appalachia proved to be too difficult to clear for traditional agriculture and led many early European settlers to adopt a mixed hunting and gathering farming practice. Decades after the chestnut blight outbreak, we're seeing a resurgence of nut enthusiasts in the region looking to revitalize a forest-based economy.
Nut-works Build Regional Resilience
As supply chains become increasingly unreliable and energy shortages more frequent, local food production and processing will become ever more crucial to rural communities. Acornucopia, a cooperative of nut growers, harvesters, and processors here in Appalachia, sees a forest-based economy as a potential solution.
Ohio Chestnut Farm Incorporates Alley Cropping
As nut orchards grow in popularity, farmers are looking for innovative ways to generate income and improve soil health as their trees mature. This has prompted many to diversify their plantings through alley cropping, an agroforestry practice where crops are grown in the alleyways between spaced rows of woody plants or trees.
After harvesting 1/6 an acre of garlic this July, the Southern Ohio Chestnut Company preps next seasons alley crop beds. Photo by the Southern Ohio Chestnut Company.
West Virginia Hazelnut Orchard Finds Local Cultivars
John Kelsey has been growing hazelnuts on his farm in Mason County, West Virginia, since 2011, when the Thousand Cankers Disease outbreak damaged the black walnuts he had planted for timber in 1970. John subsequently planted a mix of Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) resistant and immune cultivar varieties cited as proven production winners by nurseries.
Bill Whipple of Nutty Buddy and Acornucopia shares this acorn pudding recipe via his interview with The Wander School. Acorns make a delightful thickener for savory and sweet dishes!
Check out his book The Nut Book - A Manifeasto of Community Nut Processing for more nutty recipes!
Roasted Chestnut Ice Cream
During our research and development of culinary chestnut flour, we have the opportunity to experiment with a range of uses for our milled products.
We particularly loved this roasted chestnut ice cream from the Lemon Apron using Route 9 Cooperative chestnut chunks!
Photo by the Lemon Apron
ASFC Partners with Route 9 Co-op and Local Mills
The Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative is partnering with four farmers from the Route 9 Cooperative and two local mills to develop value-added products including a fine chestnut flour made from Grade B chestnuts.
The demand for culinary chestnuts far exceeds the supply from our region and thanks to a recent grant from North Central SARE, we will research and develop fine flour and other products from chestnuts grown at Route 9 Cooperative. While Grade B chestnuts don’t immediately offer the same return as fresh chestnuts, they hold promise if processed into a value-added product. After our first milling day at Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, we distributed fine and medium flour to bakers, chefs, and brewers from our region and beyond. Clemence Gossett of The Gourmandise School sent us a message saying, “Smells DIVINE! Shockingly like maple syrup!”
Interested in our work? Join us this fall for our Chestnut Field Day on September 30, 2022 at Route 9 Cooperative in Carroll County, OH! Contact Eleanor@ruralaction.org for more information.
ASFC Co-Hosts Heritage Grain School
We're partnering with Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice, Tecumseh Land Trust, Antioch College, and Cornville Seed to offer a three-day Grain School on August 12-14, 2022 in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Over the course of three days, participants will have hands-on experience on the topic of Ancient Heritage Grains. Join us for farmers panels, beer tastings, baking demos, and lectures on various grain related topics such as ‘The History of Beer’ and ‘Dispelling the Myth of Backyard Grains.' Come for one day or all three days. Visit our registration page for more details!
Chefs and Bakers Experiment with Chestnut Flour
Our grant from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation enables us to collaborate with a range of chefs and bakers to develop a kitchen-tested culinary flour.
Athens Bread Company used our coarse chestnut flour and chunks to bake a wonderfully nutty and surprisingly sweet sourdough loaf!
Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) Project Awards Recipe Development Mini-Grants
The joint annual conference of the Northern Nut Growers Association and the Chestnut Growers of America will take place August 7-10, 2022 on the Penn State Berks campus in Reading, Pennsylvania and online.
What Does the Future Hold for Corn and Maize?
Learn about the influence of corn and maize on public health and society. Hear perspectives on food security, environmental impact, community resilience, and a vision for the future.
Join us for the three-day Heritage Grain School this August to learn about the craft, culture, and cultivation of Ancient Heritage Grains!
Antioch College and Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice will host a range of hands-on activities, lecture panels, and demonstrations.
Perennial AF: a podcast and blog by the Savanna Institute
Check out Savanna Institute's new podcast and blog––where they have honest conversations with real people about farming with trees. You might have guessed, AF stands for agroforestry.
Build social solidarity not charity! Support horizontal networks of cooperation by sharing resources with organizations on the frontlines of food sovereignty work. This section will feature opportunities to fund grassroots organizations related to the newsletter theme.
Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance
The Native American Food Soverignty Alliance (NAFSA) places Indigenous farmers, wild-crafters, fishers, hunters, ranchers, and eaters at the center of the fight to restore Indigenous food systems and self-determination. NAFSA’s primary initiatives are the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network, the Food and Culinary Mentorship Program, and their Native Food Sovereignty Events. Each of these initiatives centers around the reclamation of Indigenous seeds and foods.
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