Friday, August 19, 2011

Booths at the Field Day

Still some other possibilities, but we will have the following friends here, selling and showing off.

People here:
NOTE - it would be a good idea for you to bring a cooler- you may want to pick up some of the great local meats available, and other produce might benefit, too- and maybe a small-animal transporter if you'd like to take home a hen or two...

Booths/info, maybe without people:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Field Day Schedule

Here's an outline of the schedule for the field day; pretty close to set at this point.

Friday: Arrive and set up camp, if you like. Primitive camping under our 1993 Chestnut planting west of the maze, portajohn and water available.

  • 9:30 AM - 5 PM Registration and Registration-Tent Sales Open
  • 10 AM - 6 PM Plant Sales open at Greenhouses
  • 10 AM - 5 PM Vendor and Displays Open (not all vendors/presenters will be there all day)
  • 10:30 AM First Tours start, 1 1/2 -2 hours
  • Introduction to Woody Agriculture: for first-timers, and a refresher/update for experienced growers who haven't taken this tour for a couple of years.
  • Integration of Animals in Woody Agriculture Fields: Advanced tour for those interested in fitting animals into their woody ag operations. This includes people who don't want to burn as much gas for mowing.
  • 11:15 AM Greenhouse Tour. Off-grid, solar-heated four-season greenhouse; in operation for about two decades. We can show you some things that work, and others that don't!
  • 12:30 - 1:45 PM Lunch- Eat under the hickories, get pies, bread, jam, cookies (THIS YEAR WITH BADGERSETT HAZELS AND HICKORIES) from our Amish friends, enjoy live music, and visit our vendor/display booths!
  • 1:45 PM Afternoon tours start:
  • NeoHybrid Hazelnuts: 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Including some introductory material, as well as touching on our latest developments and discoveries in management of establishment, fertility, pest control, harvest and more.
  • On-Farm Cloning: The first public full disclosure of our on-farm cloning method, presented by Dr. Susan Wiegrefe, our research associate, who is continuing to refine this technique.
  • 4-5 PM: What's New short talk, and question and answer session.
  • 5:15 PM: Demonstration of post-harvest processing machinery down by the greenhouses.
  • Evening: Camp out again! See if you can convince Brandon to light the bonfire!

Sunday: For those sticking around, we may be able to use your help planting hazel tubelings. Hazel harvest is a bit late this year, we've got a lot of research plants to get in the ground, and the ground is actually dry enough to work!
NOTE: the week following the field day is the first volunteer planting opportunity we've offered for a while, and we're planning to do some full-scale machine planting. Let us know if you're interested!

Monday, August 15, 2011

2 new reasons for you to come to the Field Day

Hazel grower Don Price called us this morning to let us know that he will be bringing a harvest processing tool he's been working on with him; and we'll set it up and run it.

Don's been working with rebuilding and adapting what used to be a standard tool for all farms, a fanning mill. He started working with one at least 3 years ago, and provided one for us to play with here at Badgersett, too.

We haven't had the time we've wanted, to work with the really excellent machine he brought us; but he's done some tinkering with his, and has been using it to clean (at least) his hazel nuts. It's likely that with a bit of remodeling, these things can be made to size nuts, also; and remove blanks and lightweights.

It'll be here, set up and demonstrating, for the Field Day.

Item 2; Sue Wiegrefe has been systematically collecting data on soil pH in a variety of our hazel plantings, with known fertilization/lime treatments. And- we've got results to show. We've actually learned something; quite important. There's more to learn; but we already have some information that will change the quality of your crop.

Come and see- and learn! I could just "tell you"; of course- but - it's about 1000x more effective if you SEE it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The curse of being first-

We arranged to demonstrate machine picking of neohybrid hazelnuts 9 years ago. I'm astonished it's been so long. The entire world has changed, in the meantime; for one thing, the machine company we dealt with, BEI, Inc; has been sold. 9 years ago, I'd been talking to their founder and president, Butch Greiffendorf, for 15 years already. He was an enthusiast for the hazels, and came to one of our Annual Field Days, to see the crop for himself, and meet potential growers.

But he sold the company, the rascal, a year or so before I called BEI to arrange a trial, on the 9 acres of Badgersett hazels at Arbor Day Farm. Enough enthusiasm survived that the trial did happen.

We're trying to arrange real machine picking, now, this year; and so far it's been an uphill battle. These are harder economic times, of course. The Illinois planting we featured here is loaded, and really needs a machine.

I of course made a video of the picking trial; but it wasn't easily available for me to send around. Remember- 9 years ago? There was no YouTube. It finally dawned on me; there IS , now. So I put it up. Imagine that.

Hopefully this will help to explain to the picking companies where we are, and how we got here, and what it looks like when a blueberry picker picks hazelnuts.

The thing is; this video is ancient; and primitive, by today's standards. I shot it on one of the first digital cameras that could also make short videos. But this was so early, they had no sound capability, at all. And of course, the resolution is a long way from HD.

But it was simple; anyway. This whole thing was cobbled together from 4 or 5 short clips, all entirely edited within plain old QuickTime.

When you're the first at something- it means working with whatever tools there are; and later comers can look a lot slicker. But; they can't be first. :-)

How did it work? It worked just fine. If there were ripe nuts, the machine picked them. (There weren't many; they Arbor Day people set aside the rows right next to the woods for the machine trial- and the squirrels were active...) The unripe nuts stayed on the bushes, as did the leaves, and next season's catkins. The force these machines use is adjustable, in sophisticated ways; the force needed to pick hazelnuts was allowing walking-stick insects to come all the way through the machine into the harvest bucket- and get up and walk off.

We will need different innards for the machines - a cluster of 10 hazelnuts will not behave like a blueberry on the conveyers or in the cleaners; but the picking mechanism itself- was just fine.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Field Day update

Here's a little updated information on the Field Day- it's looking like attendance will be great, and even the weather seems to be cooperating. This is a version of the press release we sent out:

Press Release: For Immediate Release 8/10/11


20th Field Day; 30+ Years Of Progress With New Sustainable Crops

If you’ve ever heard anyone say the word “hazelnuts”, in the Midwest, it’s a sure bet they’re talking about the hybrids developed first by Badgersett Research Farm, in Fillmore County. Unknown to many, Badgersett has also been developing two other crops, for the same 30+ years; hybrid chestnuts, which they claim will someday be comparable to corn as a mainstream crop, and hybrid hickories, now in the early years of showing what they can do.

“This 20th Annual Field Day is a fantastic chance for folks to see the realities involved in these new crops. At this point, with 5 universities picking up our hybrid hazelnut research, some of the information floating around can be conflicting. Very simply- our plantings are the oldest, by decades; besides being the largest, by tens of thousands, and the most diverse.” says Philip Rutter, Badgersett Research Corporation founder and CEO. “The USDA has just invested $1.3 Million in hybrid hazel research; a grant awarded to a collaboration by 3 universities, and based on the promise these new hybrids have as a crop that can be grown for energy and food- both, at the same time. We’re delighted. But managing a crop you plant once in 50 years is very different from corn and beans. The plants still surprise us, every year. For people who are interested, there’s just no substitute for seeing the fields, first hand.”

Badgersett’s hybrid hazelnuts are touted by many as a replacement for soybeans - in terms of markets, hazels can do anything soybeans can, and more. “They’re 60% oil, and the oil is chemically the twin of olive oil; so you can understand the interest.” says Rutter. “It actually tastes better than olive oil, in our opinion- plus; we burn it in our diesel engines.” Only for demonstration purposes at this point, he smiles, “Diesel is still cheaper, but the hazel oil smells better.” The hybrid chestnuts are producing wood as well as nuts now (“We’re drowning in woody biomass!” Rutter wails.) and the hybrid hickories are coming on strong; “The hickories are going to be important very soon,” Rutter says, “The same machines used for the pecan crop will work for these hybrids, so we don’t have to invent anything. Plus we can grow them in Minnesota- where pecans freeze out.”

Guided tours start at 10 AM, and run into the late afternoon. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch, and folks traveling from greater distances are welcome to camp overnight, before and after. “We usually have folks coming from 2 and 3 states away”, Rutter says, “all we can offer is primitive campsites, but it’s a growing phenomenon.”

This year’s Field Day has 3 areas of focus; on-farm cloning techniques, the off-grid solar greenhouse, and the integration of animals with the crops. “We’re working on pastured poultry in the hazels, and using horses and sheep to control grass in the chestnuts and hickories. So far- we think we need more animals.” says Rutter. “The idea is to use tools to control grass and weeds that have some chance of producing income- instead of just paying for tractors and diesel fuel forever. Even at the small test scales we’re using; it’s looking promising.” One of the things to see: “The hazel rows where we’ve been pasturing poultry for 2 years look better than any on the farm; they’re gorgeous. Better than expected, in fact.” grins Rutter; “Much better. Now we need to figure out why. It’s not just the nitrogen, we’ve proven that.”

Badgersett’s first Field Day was held in 1991, funded by a grant from the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture. “The Field Day has really grown over the years; at this point we’re working on turning it into a one day Local Food / Sustainable Agriculture Fair. All our fellow members of the Lanesboro Local market ( have been invited to come and sell their wares at the Field Day; we have hopes of a great turnout. Our Amish neighbors will be there, selling baked goods and more, and this year we’ve added music; the well known local country duet, Brother Music, Sister Rhythm ( will be playing for us during the midday.” Rutter says. “That’s the direction we want the Field Day to go- a solid community and family event.”

The regional Clean Energy Resource Team ( is bringing a group for a special tour of the greenhouse, which may just be the oldest off-grid business in the state.

Hazelnut, chestnut, and hickory plants WILL be available for sale this year; for the first time in several years.

A map to the Farm can be downloaded from the Farm website:, or is available by searching Google Maps for “Badgersett Farm”. Updates on Field Day events at: