I first met Akiva almost 15 years ago when he was working for Primitive pursuits in Ithaca, NY. I was curious about what Primitive Pursuits was, so I tagged along one snowy winter day when Akiva took my son and a dozen other children into the snow-covered woods. Although it was cold and wet, Akiva cultivated a sense of wonder and play. There were games they played and then everyone got together to make a fire out of wet wood without matches or a lighter. I was impressed both with his energy, the way he projected himself and the way he felt at home in the forest.
Last year I decided to start a tree farm, although in all honesty I really have no idea what I’m doing. This year I planted 500 Hybrid Chestnut trees from seed and next year I plan on planting 5000 trees. This article is about things I have learned, experiments I have done and all the stuff I learned along the way.
The last month has been taken up by me trying to accomplish the impossible. I’ve been preparing 42 acres of steep hillside that I ravaged with a bulldozer to become a productive chestnut & hazelnut orchard. The first step to doing this is to seed the disturbed soil. My original idea was to have a neighboring farmer come in with a large tractor and a discer and seeder to seed it with medium red clover. As spring progressed and my land got more and wetter, I realized there was no way that was going to happen, any heavy equipment was going to get hopelessly stuck in the clay mud. I still have 6-8 culverts I need to put in, and without them, most of my property is impassible by anything other than an electric bike (and marginally at that).