Tough nuts

Why don't more farmers grow nuts? That's what Jerry Henkin, a member of the Northen Nut Growers Association, wants to know. We met Henkin last month at the Farm to Market Connection conference last month in Liberty, NY, where he showed us a slew of native nut varieties, like butternut and heartnut, that you just don't see at your local farmer's market. (His argument: you should.)

In the slideshow above, Henkin uses a fire-extinguisher-sized nutcracker to crack a butternut (one of the hardest nuts around, he says) and a heartnut. He also demonstrates how to prepare a black walnut twig for grafting onto a mature tree. (You slice the end off with a very sharp knife and keep the graft refrigerated until you use it.)

Henkin will be at SUNY Delhi this weekend to attend the spring meeting of the New York Nut Growers Association. Some of the items on the agenda: "Current Research on Bringing Back the American Chestnut;" "Permaculture Design and the Role of Agroforestry in Nut Tree Plantings," and planting real live nut trees on the college's campus after lunch. Registration is $15. For info on times and how to buy tickets, see our calendar listing for the event.