Friday, July 8, 2011

Announcing: Badgersett Research Farm 20th Annual Field Day

(click on photo for bigger views)

Badgersett Research Farm 20th Annual Field Day:
Saturday, August 20th

If you want to learn about growing hazelnuts in the Midwest; it makes sense to go and see where it's been done the longest. That would be us, we're at 32 years, and counting. No other grower or researcher has production rows like ours.

We're making a concerted effort to expand our Field Day event this year; we're inviting quite a few other folks to bring what they have to show and sell, and set up booths in the chestnut rows, where we can guarantee good shade. Stay tuned to this blog, where we'll be announcing the specifics as we have them. We're inviting hazel growers, graziers, wool spinners, wood carvers- anyone who makes a living, or wants to, from sustainable farming and integrated woody crops. And our Amish neighbors will be here, of course.

Plus- in a change from the past few years, we WILL have plants available for sale this Field Day; hazel, chestnut, and hickory-pecan tubelings will be available for purchase. (In "moderate" numbers... we probably couldn't sell you 5,000 plants right then, for example.)

The major guided tours will start at 10 AM, and will run throughout the day until 4 PM. Lots of folks wind up staying and talking until 5:30 and 6.

This year's Field Day will have 4 special focus aspects:

1: On-Farm Hazel Cloning.

Dr. Sue Wiegrefe, Badgersett Research Associate, will be running tours to see both our new field plantings of our cloned hazels, and "division parent clones" in the greenhouse. We are now outplanting divisions of some 20 different clonal hazels; from several varying processes, including direct in-field divisions.

NOTE: At these tours, we will be making public the division processes we have up to now kept proprietary.

Dr. Wiegrefe has taken our years of work on the division process, and brought the techniques ahead to a state of success where it is now time to publish so other researchers can add to it. Following the Field Day, we will be publishing the divisions research details online, as part of our peer-reviewed Badgersett Research Bulletins series.

2: Integrating Animals In Woody Crops.

Tours will look at our "chicken/guinea tractors", sheep, and horses. All of these animals contribute to grass/weed control in our crops; and all can produce farm income. We're in the very early phases of learning how to manage them profitably; but any hazel grower with more than a few years of growing knows by now that grass control is critical to any hope of a profitable hazel crop. Simple machine mowing, in the long run, will not be a competitive practice.

3: The Sins Of Not Fertilizing.

Hazels, and all woody crops, have highly complex responses to fertilizer. Fertilizer applied in the current year will have measurable, and visible, affects at least 4 years down the road. Since our goal from the outset has been agricultural style food production, all Badgersett hazels have been selected for production when supported by additional fertilizer. Leaving them unfertilized will have the same effect as if you put your herd of registered Holstein cows out to graze on poor pasture, with no feed. They will produce milk until they get sick; and you will be making no money next year. Various efforts to grow and select hazels that "can produce without fertilizer" will result in selecting for "wild-type" genetics. Bison may survive on poor range- but they won't be producing big dairy crops - or meat - for you.

Ultimately, all concepts of avoiding fertilizing are fantasy, by very simple reference to the science of physics. If you are harvesting x tons of food/acre; you are necessarily removing x amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and minors. That's a fact. If the productivity of the land is to be maintained; nutrients removed must be replaced. There is no escaping that law. The bigger the crop you are removing; the more nutrients must be replaced.

Tours will show multiple aspects of fertilized and unfertilized hazels (of course we maintain unfertilized control plants; this year they are exceptionally educational.)

4. Off-Grid Earth Sheltered Greenhouse; 18 years of Operation.

Interest in alternative energy continues to grow. Our earth sheltered, solar heated, and photo-voltaic powered greenhouse is thought to be the oldest such business in Minnesota. Tours will focus on the energy dynamics of the building, and the interplay with the needs of the greenhouse crops we grow.

We'll be posting details here on the blog continuously, as we develop them. Check back often, and plan on coming!


Notice: If you would like to have a booth for our Field Day; please email us as soon as possible, at with your details. For this first year, there will be no charge for space. If you want to bring animals, to show or sell, please let us know, and we'll try to be sure appropriate space is arranged.

Notice: Harvest Volunteers - are going to be needed more than ever. While we're trying very hard to arrange some machine harvest this year, there are still many bushes that must be harvested by hand, in order to maintain the identity of seed, and to keep research data secure. We can't emphasize the importance of this enough. For those who help out, we do provide hourly pay in the form of credit that can be used to buy tubelings in future years- a great way to learn, and earn plants. If you think you can help, please email us at and let us know what dates you may be available. Any dates from Aug 15 to Sept 20 may be helpful.


  1. Hi. The field day looks great. Can you share the location and start time? The post says that tours start at 10am, but that perhaps other things are going on before that. Thanks!

  2. Could my 5 and 7 year old girls spend some time with your girl while I check out the sheep?

  3. Hi, Eli- the location is Badgersett Farm- (map here: just drive in, and it'll be obvious where to park etc. Frequently people do show up and have some informal discussion and looking around before then, but the staff here will be scurrying around getting stuff ready.

    Robb- Meg says it shouldn't be much trouble to arrange-