Missouri Chestnut Roast Returns to HARC

The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry is bringing back its signature outreach event.

The Missouri Chestnut Roast will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin, Mo. The event is free and open to the public and will celebrate Missouri agroforestry farming.

The Missouri Chestnut Roast will return to the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in 2015. It was last held in 2010. Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry.The Missouri Chestnut Roast will return to the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in 2015. It was last held in 2010. Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry.

“This is a unique opportunity to experience agroforestry in action,” said Shibu Jose, superintendent of HARC and director of the MU Center for Agroforestry. “We feature several specialty crops such as chestnuts, pecans, black walnuts, pawpaws, grapes, apples and alternative cropping systems such as alley cropping and silvopasture where you can incorporate these perennial crops.”

“This event is totally family friendly,” added Michael Gold, associate director of the MU Center for Agroforestry. “There will be plenty of activities for everyone.”

The Missouri Chestnut Roast began in 2003 and ran until 2010.

“We had some unfortunate funding cuts which meant we couldn’t host the event,” Gold said. “We’ve had enough funding restoration in the last year that we can now bring it back. This is one of the first things we wanted to do.”

The roast returns in 2015 with a long list of offerings. Educational booths, farm tours and chestnut cooking demonstrations will take place during the event. There will also be local music and free chestnut samples.

“We’ll showcase HARC and also agroforestry,” Gold said. “We’ll have bus tours and self-guided walking tours. A major function of HARC is testing and demonstrating the viability of perennial specialty crops, especially pecan, eastern black walnut and chestnut. Guests will be able to learn about those crops and their potential as farm options on the family farm.”

Guests will also be able to check out baled pine needles known as pine straw. While there are no native pine trees in central Missouri, HARC has tested cold-hardy loblolly pine, which is native to Arkansas. They’ve also researched a loblolly and pitch hybrid, testing how well the trees grow.

“We’re looking for a fast growing pine with 6-inch or longer needles,” Gold said. “We want the needles to be stiff. We also need to find ones that thrive in our climate. These two types do a nice job.”

The pine needles that fall to the ground can be collected and baled. Gold said there is definitely a market out there for baled pine straw as a mulch for flower beds.

The Missouri Chestnut Roast will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin, Mo.The Missouri Chestnut Roast will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin, Mo. Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry.

“It’s not as well-known up here,” he said. “There is certainly an opportunity to market them, though.”

Vendors from the region will sell various items, ranging from goat cheese to handmade bowls. There will be liquor and beer sampling as well.

There will also be an area for children’s activities.

“The Missouri Chestnut Roast is going to be educational, fun and informative,” Gold said.

The event will be held rain or shine. Dogs are not allowed unless they are service animals.

“A team of individuals led by Michael has been working hard for months to organize this event,” Jose said. “We invite everyone to come out and enjoy the day.”

The Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center is located at 10 Research Center, New Franklin, Mo. 65274. You can visit their website at harc.cafnr.org/. For more information about the MU Center for Agroforestry, visit centerforagroforestry.org/.

For further information about the Chestnut Roast, contact Caroline Todd at toddcs@missouri.edu.