Our property is situated at 820m on the Stanley Plateau in the foothills of the Victorian alps, Australia. It consists of 14 hectares of precious remnant native forest and 8 hectares of orchard, arboretum and garden.
The main orchard was planted in 1998. David propagated, planted and grafted the 1000 chestnut trees himself.
There is a Korean proverb which says ‘If you plant one thousand chestnut trees you will attain longevity’.
The passion for chestnut trees arose from a great interest in trees and botany generally, hence the name of our property, The Garden in the Forest. We built a mud brick home here in 1981 and began to grow food and start a plant collection. In 1989 we planted the first chestnut trees and in 1998 we finished the main orchard.
We realised that the property was ecologically suited to chestnuts because of the 100 year old early settler chestnut trees abounded around Stanley, possibly from the Chinese gold mining days. The east sloping site, deep red well-drained mountain soil, 1250mm annual rainfall and the seasonal patterns of occasional snowfalls and summer heat were ideal to grow these ‘bread trees’.
Chestnut grower colleagues in the Ardeche region of France, have taught us that the chestnut is effectively a staple food, like bread.
We have developed and practised organic growing principles for over 14 years.
Our chestnuts are labelled as ‘Grown with NO insecticides, NO fungicides, NO herbicides, NO chemical fertilizers’. Our orchard is surrounded by our native forest, a natural buffer. In 2013 we proceeded with official NASAA certification.
Our harvest was originally hand-picked, but now we vacuum harvest most of the crop.
When we do employ international backpackers they love to picnic in our yellow, yellow chestnut orchard, fascinated by our kangaroos, wombats and birds. Likewise, the extended family.
We love learning, teaching and sharing about chestnuts.
This has taken us to international conferences and festivals in Portugal, France, Italy and Hungary. Thus we have learnt much, not only from scientists and growers, but also from immersing in the chestnut lifestyle of the European locals.
You will see us with the Chestnuts Australia Inc team roasting chestnuts with a giant roasting pan over a fire at the La Fiera festival each May in Myrtleford, north east Victoria, Australia.