Field day at Hazel Acres will explore hazelnut production and marketing

For Release: August 24, 2016

Contacts:

Jeff Jensen | Hazel Acres and Nut Haven | (515) 320-6756 | [email protected]

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

FENTON, Iowa — When Jeff Jensen and his parents, Roger and Joyce, decided to establish hazelnuts on their row crop and livestock farm, their main goal was to add more diversity while still generating income.

“Hazelnuts were an attractive option,” Jeff says. “They are perennial, native to the Midwest, are an oil-producing crop – producing more oil per acre than soybeans – and could really contribute to improving water quality and ecosystem services. We planted our first seedlings in 2005, and I was hooked.”

With that first planting, Hazel Acres was established. In 2007, after considerable planning, the Jensen family established the “Cadillac planting” at what would become Nut Haven. The two sites are only a few miles apart, but the extra planning at Nut Haven clearly shows.

Jeff and his parents invite farmers and the public to learn more about growing hazelnuts and the benefits of adding agroforestry crops at a Practical Farmers of Iowa and Trees Forever field day they are hosting on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Fenton (3503 40th Ave., about 6 miles northeast of town).

The event – “Hazelnut Production and Marketing” – is free to attend and will include lunch following the field day. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or [email protected]alfarmers.org, by Wednesday, Sept. 7. Guests are asked to bring their own table service. The field day is sponsored by Healthy Harvest of North Iowa and Trees Forever.

The Jensens will cover site selection; establishing seedlings; best management practices; yield recordkeeping; processing; and marketing. Because most consumers don’t want to deal with cracking nuts, the Jensens invested significant resources into processing equipment for husking, sizing, cracking, sorting and adding value through oil expelling. Attendees will get to see the process of transforming hazelnuts from nut cluster to bottle of oil and bag of flour. Guests will also learn about the opportunities and challenges of growing hazelnuts in the Midwest. Following the field day, Phil Ruger will lead a tour of Ruger Aronia, which is just 2 miles from Hazel Acres.

“The single greatest obstacle to the growth of hazelnuts as a new crop is [access to] plant material,” says Jeff, who also works for Trees Forever. Unlike apples, aronia berries and other crops for which commercial varieties adapted to the Midwest have been developed, he says “there are virtually no hazelnut varieties or cultivars to grow commercially in the Midwest. Sorry, but Oregon [hazelnut shrubs] aren’t going to cut it here on the Plains.

“What this means in practice is that all my roughly 1,000 bushes are different and unique. Until we get better plant material – and there is some plant material in the ‘hopper’ – hazelnuts will struggle to be profitable.”

Directions from Algona: Take U.S. 169 north for 9.7 miles. Turn left (west) onto 310th Street; after 7.8 miles, turn right (north) onto County Road P20 / 40th Avenue. Drive 4 miles; 3503 40th Avenue will be on the left (west) side of the road, with a big white barn and rows of hazelnuts.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days occur rain or shine, and feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers’ “2016 Field Day Guide,” available at practicalfarmers.org, or for free in print.

Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.

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Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.