Lazy Squirrel Nut Farm
Lazy Squirrel Nut Farm is located at the former Balser Tree Farm
Lazy Squirrel Nut Farm is located at the historic Balser tree farm. The Balser tree farm was originally planted in 1988 on a five acre lot, part of a 20 acre farm that was started by Don and Jane Balser. After a lifelong career serving others, Mr. Balser followed a dream and brought in select nut tree varieties to begin to cultivate the Balser tree farm. Sadly, Mr. Balser passed away in 2006.
In 2016, Kevin and Beth Meenaghan were looking to purchase farmland in the Skagit Valley. However, Kevin and Beth weren’t originally planning on purchasing a nut farm, let alone a chestnut farm. The opportunity to purchase the Balser Tree Farm presented itself and has worked out wonderfully for Kevin and Beth. According to The Skagit Valley Herald, The Meenaghans have owned the farm since 2016 and sold their first chestnuts at the farm in 2017. Kevin says that when they purchased the farm, they didn’t know anything about growing chestnuts, but they got help from two area farms — Washington Chestnut Company in Whatcom County and Feral Farm Agroforestry in Rockport. Both had worked with Don Balser previously.
Today, Kevin and Beth are continuing to restore the orchard, step by step, to bring the trees back into health and production. Their care for the land is showing in the many frogs, birds, and yes, squirrels that inhabit their property.
Chestnut usage and preparation
Typically roasted or boiled before enjoying, chestnuts are encased in a spiky husk enclosure, with two to three nuts per each prickly burr. When mature, the fruit falls to the ground and is then shelled off the husk to get to the thin, smooth-shelled nut. The chestnut fruit from the tree takes a bit of work to get to the nut itself, but is worth the extra work. Rustic and earthy, chestnuts add a sweet nutty flavor to any recipe. They’re also naturally packed with vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
Roasted chestnuts can be made at home in about 30 minutes. Once cooked, they have a soft texture and a mild, buttery, sweet flavor that resembles sweet potatoes. They can also be candied, boiled, grilled, grounded into a flour, or pureed and sweetened to create delicious desserts or an addition to stuffing. Because of the high starch content in chestnuts, they also work as substitutes for potatoes or pasta, as done in Europe.
We recently asked Kevin what he and Beth’s favorite Skagit grown fruit or vegetable was: “I think it would be potatoes because they are so much more flavorful (here). And because they border our orchard!” says Kevin.
U-pick season for chestnuts is fast approaching with a date of Sunday, October 22nd from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the farm off of Donnelly Road. Anyone who attends the u-pick on Sunday, October 22, will get a 50% admission discount to The Harvest at Skagit Acres. For more specific information about Lazy Squirrel Nut Farm’s upcoming u-pick dates, please check out their website.
We thank Kevin and Beth at Lazy Nut Squirrel Farm for their support as founding members of GSV and look forward to their growth and success in the Skagit Valley. Thank you for being our #GSVMemberMonday feature this week, Lazy Squirrel Nut Farm!