Those Nutty Gardeners: PA & NY Nut Growers Association!

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Well, we all know gardeners can be a little nutty, but these next two groups take the cake.

The Pennsylvania Nut Growers Association (PNGA) and New York Nut Growers Association (NNGA) asked POP to join them at their spring meeting at Delaware State University in Doylestown, PA this year, and it was well worth the drive to meet them! We got got to learn about some great work being done in Pennsylvania and New York, which we’d love to tell you about.

Formed in 1932 to promote interest in hardy nut growing trees, their products and their culture, PNGA is a non-profit group dedicated to assisting local professionals, hobbyists, and students in growing higher quality nut trees. They offer a wide range of opportunities, including tree grafting workshops, demonstrations, farm tours, and newsletter articles as well as access to a network of experienced members.

On this fine day, we heard about commercialization efforts for Eastern Hazelnuts, the Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania, the Hundred Fruit Farm Permaculture CSA, the Downingtown nut tree plantings of John W. Hershey, farm succession, and government resources to help farmers with legal issues all in one place! This was all followed by grafting demonstrations, where a hickory grafted before our very eyes was donated to us here at POP.

It was encouraging to hear that the Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative is to working to support the growth and commercialization of the hazelnut industry through efforts in grower support, targeted research, and technology transfer. These folks (which include our new Orchard Director Michael’s former adviser) see an opportunity for substantial regenerative agriculture through Hazelnuts that can contribute perennial food, an array of value added products, and biofuels. Could this be true or are they just nuts?

American Hazelnut, photocredit “Corylus americana Tree Record.” 1995-2018. May 29, 2018. <>

Apparently, the american hazelnut is more than just a nut. It is 81% oleic acid, making it one of the healthiest oils available and also a superior feedstock for biodiesel and other bio-industrials. It’s claimed that hazelnuts grown in Nebraska have shown the potential to yield twice as much oil per acre as soybeans, which is a step up in the attempt for sustainable biofuels. Aside from these special value added products, The Upper Midwest Hazelnut Initiative describes their use in trail mixes, nut clusters, nut butters, and on their own all while lending itself to mixed regenerative and perennial agriculture approaches. Hazelnuts are among the nut trees we’ve been planting in urban orchards because they can be grown as a bushy shrub and kept to a very manageable size through pruning- a perennial food source indeed if you can keep ahead of the squirrels!

Photo credit: The Gleaning Project

Also in the room were fellow gleaners in South Central PA taking on food waste in a big way with The Gleaning Project. Much larger than our own POPHarvest gleaning program but something to strive for, The Gleaning Project has over 120 partners and is gleaning over 300,000 lbs of produce, feeding over 26,000 food-insecure individuals each year! This effort started as a volunteer side project of two growers in Adams County, Jan and Jerry Althoff, under a national faith-based gleaning and food recovery non-profit. After 4 years of expanding the Gleaning Project alongside running a nursery business, the effort was ultimately adopted by the South Central Community Action Program and has grown into what it is today. This story demonstrates the power of dedicated volunteers and good hearts, and we are glad to see you shine.

Unassuming, yet evenly spaced walnuts trees. Photo credit: Small Acts Ecological Design <>

And check this out! If you want to see why planting fruits and nuts is a good idea, you’ll have to check out the remnants of John W. Hershey’s tree nursery in Downingtown, PA. Mr. Hershey is said to have worked very hard  toward the improvement of native fruit and nut trees in the region during his time. While the land his nursery existed on had been sold after his death with houses and buildings subsequently built throughout, much of his work still stands tall today. We’ve heard of bur oaks that produce low tannin content acorns, large american persimmon trees, grafted thornless honey locusts, large grafted Northern pecans, hicans, hickories, walnuts, shagbarks, and sweet pignuts that still stand from the original nursery, and we plan to take a trip soon to investigate further!

The knowledge and experience present at the nut grower’s meeting was rich, diverse, and in this observer’s opinion, should be thoroughly documented and distributed. We heard from tree crop growers young and old, including new permaculture-based Hundred Fruit Farm in Buckingham PA; Wild Ridge Plants with their edible, medicinal, and native offerings; and even how to plan for your farm’s succession when you start to worry about reaching that age.  The reason we were all there together? We are passionate about one thing. . . which is, absolutely, nuts! These folks seem to be on to something, however, so we hope to connect again soon.


This blog post written by POP Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer. 

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia:  

The Spotted Lanternfly: New Orchard Superpest?

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Adult Spotted Lanternfly Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Have you heard about the Spotted Lanternfly yet? If you haven’t, you’ll probably hear about them a lot more in the near future! First seen in Southeastern PA in 2014, this pest insect’s population has exploded and since moved into New York, Delaware, and Virginia. The Spotted Lanternfly is a threat to many orchard crops and the USDA is now pouring $17.5 million of dollars into fighting this new pest in Pennsylvania!

Photo credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), is native to Vietnam, China, and India, but has become an aggressive invasive species in both South Korea and Pennsylvania, the only other two places it has been found so far. This pest has a favorite host, the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), an invasive, fast-growing tree from China which may have provided initial habitat for this pesky bug in Pennsylvania and is a common weed tree in Philadelphia.

The Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Photo via public Domain

The Spotted Lanternfly also feeds on up to 70 other plants including grapes, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, and hops. It is a large planthopper, about 1 inch long, with distinctive spots and red hind wings. Like other leafhoppers, the lanternfly feeds on plant sap, which damages the plant. The Spotted Lanternfly also secretes large amounts of honeydew, which leads to growth of sooty mold. Sooty mold can severely damage the host plant and is especially damaging to fruit crops!


Spotted Lanternfly egg mass. Photo credit: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ,


Female lanternflies will lay their eggs on almost any surface available including trees, cars, lumber and outdoor furniture, and people are very worried about this bug’s potential for hitchhiking and long distance travel. The adult female will often drop down to the nearest available surface and lay 30-50 eggs. Combine that mobility with the fact that 44 states already have the host plant Tree of Heaven- which tends to grow in disturbed and lesser maintained areas like around parking lots and along highways and railways- and you can see why farmers, gardeners, orchardists, and authorities are concerned about the potential for a new superpest!


(Lanternfly nymphs. Photo Credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

If Spotted Lanternfly is identified in your area, please join the team of people addressing it!  Those in affected areas need to be aware of quarantine orders and rules for compliance. Penn State Extension has developed a list of recommended management strategies that you can engage in, which involves closely inspecting any outdoor objects that will move from place to place, managing the population of host Tree of Heaven, leaving trap trees, and the use of pesticides according to their label. It is important to keep in mind that the sap of Tree of Heaven can cause headaches, nausea, and heart problems, and to protect oneself when handling it. Please visit the Penn State Extension website for procedures and checklists regarding yard waste and the movement of outdoor items including vehicles.

We’re sorry that this isn’t the best news to be bringing you, but we hope that you can take some time to educate yourself about this alarming new pest and join the team of informed folks trying to deal with the issue!

What to do if you see the Spotted Lanternfly:

If you see egg masses, scrape them off, double bag them and throw them away. You can also place the eggs into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. Please report all destroyed egg masses to Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture.

Collect a specimen: Specimens of any life stage can be turned in to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Entomology lab for verification. Submit samples with the Entomology Program Sample Submission Form.

Take a picture: A photograph of any life stage (including egg masses) can be submitted to

Report a sighting: If you can’t take a specimen or photograph, call the Automated Invasive Species Report Line at 1-866-253-7189 and leave a message detailing your sighting and contact information.

Links for more info:

This blog post prepared by POP Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer. 

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: