|In Michigan, there is a cooperative with 39 members working to make chestnuts a viable commercial product:
CGI: Chestnut Growers, Inc.
Michigan Growers Producing, Harvesting, and Processing Sweet Chestnuts
On land donated my MSU known as Roger’s Reserve just outside Jackson, Michigan, the co-op owns the only chestnut peeler in North America. It has the capacity to peel, roast and freeze 1,000 pounds of chestnuts a day.
The peeler, purchased in Italy, is a miniature version of the type used throughout Europe. Co-op members have also planted a small chestnut grove on the Roger’s Reserve property. Future plans include adding a classroom and laboratory.
Ken LaFever started the orchard 12 years ago after retiring from 43 years with Detroit Gauge & Tool.
“I wanted to come out where there was a little more room and pursue my interests and one was growing plants,” he said in an interview before his death. “I tried peach trees. They didn’t work. I tried plums. They didn’t work. The deer ate all my grapes.”
Chestnuts seem to be working, as this year’s crop was about 1,600 pounds, twice the size as last year, Mike LaFever said. Chestnuts bloom in mid-summer and the flowers give way to spiny husks called burs, in which the chestnuts develop inside a dark brown shell.
“It kind of looks like a wood floor,” said 13-year-old Jared Peterson, who helped with this year’s harvest.
From mid-September to mid-October, the burs open and the chestnuts fall on the ground where they are picked up by hand.
8353 Turner Rd.
Fenton, Michigan 48430
Phone: 810-750-5037. Fax: 248-349-1320.
Open: Saturday 1:00pm til dark; Sunday 9:00am til dark Monday; 11:00am til dark on other days; and you can call for a reservation; Typically we harvest from the last week of September through the month of October; the last weekend in October is the date for U-Pick harvesting.
Cadillac, Michigan, Chestnut Town USA
Cadillac Chestnut Harvest Festival will be held in Chestnut Town, USA–otherwise known as Cadillac, Michigan–about 40 minutes south of Traverse City on the edge of the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This quaint town of about 12,000 people transforms itself for a day into a gala for chestnuts.
8198 Fleisher Lane
Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103
121 East Front Street,
Traverse City, MI 49684
Winkel Chestnut Farms
Coopersville, MI 49404.
Alternate Phone: 616-560-7743.
chestnuts, Honey from hives on the farm, gift shop,
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, from 12 pm to 5 pm. Picking updates: Click here for picking updates. Directions: Click here for a map and directions. 2009 U-pick chestnuts September 30 through middle October.
Harvey’s U-pick Farm
2651 15 Mile Road,
Tekonsha, MI 49092.
– blueberries, chestnuts, raspberries (Spring, red), raspberries (Autumn, red), strawberries,
PO Box 4446,
Traverse City, Michigan, 49686.
– Peaches, Chinese chestnuts
Open: Call ahead to arrange times, get directions, u-pick by arrangement, from early August to late September. Chinese chestnuts available last weeks of Oct.
…just outside of Baldwin, MI, or keep driving north or south on M-37. Stopping at the family farms and orchards for fresh apples, cider, pick your own chestnuts outside of Grant, Michigan in October,…