The Arbor Day Foundation has been working for 20 years to perfect the Hazelnut and create a superior variety that not only produces delicious and nutritious nuts but also offers disease resistance and tolerance of the wide range of growth conditions the United States provides. In 1996, The Hazelnut Project began with nine acres and the planting of roughly 5200 juvenile bushes made up of 60 different hybridized Hazelnuts near the Lied Lodge at The Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska. By 2005 they had gained assistance from more then 50,000 charter patrons nationwide who had agreed to plant, observe and report progress of their own bushes. By 2012 new seedlings were propagated using a combination of the best performers from the originally distributed plants, patron grown nuts and even some plantings found in the wild. Now in 2016, there is hope that even better hybrids will continue to develop over time and the plants will be become stronger and more hardy.
Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org
Hazelnuts are considered by many as a super food, their rich complex buttery flavor allows them to not only be eaten alone but also pair well with many other foods. They are high in dietary fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and Vitamin B. Studies have found that the consumption of just 1.5 ounces of Hazelnuts per day may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They contain mainly mono-unsaturated fats which are the heart healthy and no cholesterol they are a heart healthy smack. The Hazelnut crops appear in the late summer, replacing the delicate red blossoms.
Hazelnut bushes are considered to be woody agriculture, this means that they help slow climate change by providing oxygen and offsetting the build up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The plants are capable of capturing solar energy, which makes them photosynthetically efficient. They are deep, rapid rooting and can live for up to 80 years. They begin producing crops as early as 2-3 years after planting. Hazelnut shells can be used as a safe and efficient fuel alternative which can lead to a reduced demand for wood and other energy sources.
Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org
How can you help? You can support The Hazelnut Project or any of Arbor Day's other programs by visiting their website and making a donation or becoming a member today. www.ArborDay.org