Category Archives: Uncategorized

Scionwood available, 2022

You can now order scion wood for grafting apples, chestnuts, pawpaw, pears, and more from our website. Check it out at on our scionwood for sale page.

We offer high quality scion wood at $5/linear foot. Quantities of some varieties are limited and may be sold out already. Shipping is $16 to cover handling cost as well as postage. The only exception is heartnut. Some heartnut is so thick we need to use very large shipping boxes. We will alert you if there are extra shipping charges.

The new deadline for ordering this year for apple, plum, Cornelian cherry and pear scionwood is February 28. All other scionwood orders will be due March 31st. Scionwood will be shipped in early March or April depending on what you order. We will ship earlier at your request. We cut the scionwood into 6 inch lengths to facilitate shipping.

We now have videos available to help you with your grafting.

Grafting on Cornelian cherry using the barn door graft.

Tom’s favorite grafting method, Barn Door (Mega-Chip), is highlighted in the paper Barn Door Graft .  A more complete write up of grafting techniques is available in the paper Practical Grafting  .

Videos: You can watch Tom Wahl  gathering scion wood; demonstrating the barn door graft; and caring for grafts in the videos below.  The Savanna Institute hosted a one-hour Facebook/Zoom meeting with Tom using these videos. The recording of that presentation with the Q & A is below.

Gathering Scionwood

Barn door graft

Graft care

Facebook presentation 

Remember, place your order soon. We stop taking orders February 28 for varieties that leaf out early (Apple, Pear, Cornelian cherry, etc.). We stop taking orders March 31 for all other varieties (we start shipping them at that point). – Kathy

Bundles of collected scion wood
Freshly harvested and labeled persimmon scionwood.

Tree Seedlings Available for 2021

Peach chestnut seedlings, May 2020

We now have a great line up of trees available to reserve or order.

The May freezes the Spring of 2020 has affected what we have available to grow 2021. We will not be able to offer many of our own selections this year (Red Fern Super, QingSu, Shotgun). For the same reason we will not have heartnuts to sell later this year.   We do have seedlings of  some of the very best cultivars available. Although “open pollinated”, their most likely pollinizers are other good Chinese cultivars. This greatly increases the likelihood that the seedlings will be as good or even better than their parents. We fully expect that many new, superior cultivars will result form these seedlings.

Chestnut Peach seedlings mid-July, 2019.

We also have pawpaw and persimmon seedlings available to reserve. Availability of each varieties changes through the summer as people place orders and we pot up more or less trees than we predicted. If we are sold out of a variety you want, contact us to be put on a waiting list for that tree. Let us know how we can help you out. – Kathy

Red Fern Farm & COVID 19

Tom Wahl talking about shelters at Red Fern Farm
Tom Wahl talking about shelters at Red Fern Farm

Here at Red Fern Farm we are taking the need to slow the spread of COVID 19 very seriously. Our entire permanent staff (our family) already work from home (the farm) and we already require people to call ahead to schedule a visit.

We are still open for business and plan to remain so unless required by the government to shut down. We will transact all business outside, in the fresh air and sunshine, keeping a proper 6 feet apart.

Son and father harvest American persimmons
Harvesting persimmons can be family fun time.

We realize guidelines and restrictions will change in the weeks and months to come. If you have ordered trees that will need to be picked up this spring or summer, call or email us to discuss your options or restrictions.

We do plan to offer you-pick again this fall. We see our groves of trees as a valuable resource to people this fall for a way to gather fresh, wholesome food. We will be looking at options to allow people to harvest on shares or to barter for fruit.

Weighing out you-pick harvest fall of 2019.
Customers proudly weigh out their harvest of pawpaws, chestnuts, hazels, heartnuts and Asian pears at Red Fern Farm the fall of 2019.

Scionwood Available Now

We offer high quality scion wood at $5/linear foot. Quantities of some varieties are limited (only 3 feet available). Shipping is $15 to cover handling cost as well as postage. There is no limit on how much scionwood you can get for the same $15 shipping price.

Bundles of scionwood.

Deadline for ordering Apple and Pear scionwood is February 15. All other scionwood orders will be due March 1st. Scionwood will be shipped in February or March, depending on what you order. We do cut the scionwood into 6 inch leangths to facilitate shipping.

We have a “Practical Grafting” guideline available at Helpful Info/Grafting/. Also available there is our guide to Tom’s favorite grafting technique, the “Barn door Graft”, also known as ” Mega Chip Bud Grafting” .

Scionwood is not a tree. This is just a small piece of graft-able material that you can use to create an excellent tree of your own. You do need to graft it onto root stock. We do not sell root stock.

Student grafting.
Student learning “barn door” or “mega chip” grafting technique.

September 5th Field Class

With the encouragement of Practical Farmers of Iowa, we will be having a field class on Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 -4:00 pm.

Agroforestry class listens to Tom Wahl near pawpaw grove.
Agroforestry class listens to Tom Wahl near pawpaw grove.

This field class will focus on a variety of tree crops suitable for forest farming systems in Iowa. Attendees will learn about
the production, maintenance and marketing of a handful of the 75 species of crop trees and shrubs found at Red Fern
Farm. Tom and Kathy will take guests on a tour through their agroforestry farm that specializes in nut, fruit and berry
crops, as well as medicinal forest plants, and discuss how they market their crops through U-pick. There will also be an
opportunity to sample some of the non-traditional crops featured throughout the day.

Registration is required: This event is free, but attendance
is limited to 50 people. To register, contact Debra
Boekholder, or
(515) 232-5661 by Monday, September 3.

1:00   Welcome to Red Fern Farm
1:05   Practical Farmers of Iowa Introduction
1:15   Iowa Farmers Union Introduction
1:20   Sustainable Iowa Land Trust Introduction
1:25   Split into two groups and heads to groves
1:30   Group lead by Kathy Dice learns about chestnuts.
Group lead by Tom Wahl learns about Asian
pears, heartnuts, and pawpaws.
2:30   Snacks back by farm entrance
3:00 Groups switch and go to new groves, learn from other guide
4:00 Finale questions and head home

See a field guide of other Practical Farmers of Iowa events at .

Bare-root ordering closed for Spring of 2018

On Monday, April 9th, we closed the website for ordering more bare-rooted trees for Spring of  2018. We will reopen the site to ordering bare-rooted trees for spring of 2019 when we know what and how many trees will be available for spring of 2019.

We shipped all orders of bare-rooted trees today and Tom is packing orders that will be picked up from the farm. If you have  an order of bare-rooted trees for local pickup, give us a call or email to schedule your pickup time.

Bags of bare root trees.

Future Permaculture Farm Available in Near Decorah

View of trees and pasture
A view of the Luzum farm near Decorah, Iowa.

The Sustainable Iowa Land Trust announces it is reopening applications for sustainable food farmers from every background for SILT’s premier farm in Northeast Iowa – 70 acres of pasture, organic grain and timber with an historic, well-maintained 4-bedroom farmhouse with solar and geothermal and multiple outbuildings. The successful applicant has the opportunity to purchase the farm equipment interest-free over time. This opportunity, first offered in 2017, is being presented again due to the short window available for the first round of applications.

SILT offers qualified candidates a 3-year lease on the buildings and land which will result in an offer to the successful farmer of a 20-year inheritable ground lease (to be extended as allowed by Iowa law so long as the farmer remains in compliance) and option to purchase the home and barns. No down payment is required, and farmers will gain equity in the infrastructure if they so choose. The current tenant is on a one-year lease, understands that applications are open and has been invited to apply as well.

SILT’s costs include the Payment, Interest, Taxes and Insurance on this property equaling $13,446 per year. SILT administrative charge of 2 percent brings the base cost to $13,800. SILT is offering discounted 1st year rent of $12,800 with second and third year at $13,800. Rental rate is negotiable with the right applicant. Be sure to discuss with a SILT representative.

Potential sources of income include livestock, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seed, AirBnB, agri-tourism, workshops and more. The farm is conveniently located less than 10 minutes from Decorah.

SILT farmers are eventually third-party certified as organic, naturally grown, Food Alliance, biodynamic and for livestock, Animal Welfare approved.

Application materials and deadlines available here. Please read all materials before contacting us with questions at


Sales Tax Changes at Red Fern Farm

In Iowa, fruit and nut bearing trees are charged sales tax if the fruit and or nuts from that tree or bush will never be sold. If the purchaser plans to sell the fruit or nuts at any time in the life of the plant, no sales tax will be charged. It all reflects on if this plant is being purchased for a business or personal use.

In the past, we at Red Fern Farm have given buyers the option to purchase plants solely for personal use. This November we are changing that policy. We will only sell to people who plan to sell fruit or nuts from their tree or bushes at some time. This will simplify our website and other bookkeeping practices.

We will not have a minimum order, but we make it clear that you must plan to sell a product from these plants at some time. We will be updating our website slowly through the end of the year to reflect this change.


You-Pick at Red Fern Farm is by reservation only. You can call a day ahead to see if there is an opening or schedule your harvest day weeks in advance. We have lots of openings on weekdays, but weekend fill up quickly.

What to Expect: You can usually drive up and park close to the spot you will be harvesting. We have clean latrines, hand washing stations and picnic tables at each parking area. This is a safe area for children, but no dogs or cats are allowed (food security issues).

The grass will be mowed, but not as fine as a lawn. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, prickly chestnut burs are scattered on the ground. Our orchards are in a rural setting, close to “wild” timber. Bring bug repellant.

Aronia Berries: (still available as of 9/29/18) Aronia berries are available free for you-pick. They will hit the peak of ripeness during early September. We have over 2 acres to choose from, with some shade from young chestnut and heartnut trees. Call for more information.

Hazels: (Finished for 2018) Hazels are available at $1.00/pound for un-husked clusters for you-pick. The season for hazels starts in late August and continues to mid-September. Hazels can be picked from the bushes or from the ground underneath. Bring bags, buckets or boxes to collect into. It can take 30 minutes for one adult to pick clean one 10 foot tall bush and gather about 1-3 gallons of hazel clusters.

Pawpaws: Our pawpaw season is now past it’s peak.  There are still pawpaws available on the trees as of 9/29/17, but the season will be winding down soon. Pawpaws are $3.00/pound when you pick them, $5.00/pound when we pick them. Bring buckets, boxes or crates. Ripe pawpaws are very soft and should not be stacked no more than 2 deep. Weekends are very popular, so call early to reserve a time slot. Tuesday – Thursday is an excellent time to have the pawpaw patch to yourself. It only takes about 15 minutes to get 5 – 10 pounds of pawpaws. Late afternoon is the best time to pick, but ripe pawpaws will be available all day. Recipes are available. There is no minimum or maximum for the amount of pawpaws you pick. We do ask you only pick what you plan to take home.
We have many grafted trees. If you want to see what grafted variety you like the flavor of best, bring a black sharpie with you. You can write on the outside of the pawpaw what the variety it is. When you eat it later, you can compare it with other varieties

American Persimmon: Persimmons are available are still going strong as of 9/29/17 at $2.00/pound when you pick them, $3.00/pound when we pick them. The season starts in early September and continues to mid-October. Persimmons are very soft when ripe. They should not be piled deeply in your gathering container. Bring bags, buckets or boxes to collect into.
They can be gathered from the ground or picked from the tree. Slightly under ripe persimmons are very astringent. They will ripen at room temperature if picked early. We have nets spread under grafted persimmons in front of our house. You are welcomed to gather from the nets, the trees or anywhere in our groves.

Heartnuts: Heartnuts are available at $2.00/pound for un-husked clusters or $4/pound without husks (they husk very easily) for you-pick. The season for heartnuts starts in early September and continues to mid-October. The nuts are gathered from the ground under the trees.

Cornelian Cherries: (Finished for 2018) Cornelian Cherries are available at $1.00/pound for you-pick. The season has been mid-August to mid-September. We recommend bringing a gathering cloth to spread under the bushes. The ripe berries are soft and sweet. Under ripe they are firmer and very tart. They will continue to ripen after picking. We have none available already picked (the family eats them up too fast).

Spicebush: Spicebush berries are available for $8.00/pound  or 50¢/ounce for you-pick.  The season runs from early September to mid October.  (Tom reported ripe, red berries on 9/7/17.) You only need a few ounces of these potent berries to add to a variety of recipes. Kathy uses them in pawpaw jam and persimmon margaritas.

Chestnuts: We offer you-pick under our chestnut trees. The season often runs mid-September to mid-October. As of 9/29/17 the 2017 season is starting to wind down, and we have discounted our you-pick prices as a result. We provide tools and buckets for harvest and designate an area all your own to pick for a day. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, prickly chestnut burs are scattered on the ground. The best time of day to gather chestnuts is mid to late afternoon. Plan on coming after lunch and harvest up till sunset.
We have a very long waiting list of people who want to gather chestnuts on weekends. If you are new to our You-Pick, your name goes to the bottom of the list. If you can only come on a weekend, it may be years before you get a chance to gather chestnuts. If you can come on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday you have a much better chance of getting to gather chestnuts. We have started scheduling people to come pick chestnuts for 2017. Call or email us to get on our list. We can schedule you now for weekdays or call you when  other dates open up.

2017 Chestnut You-Pick Prices:
If you want to keep all the nuts you pay $2.50   $2.25/pound for everything you picked up.

We discount that price by 25 cents if you come on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. On these days the price is $2.25  $2,00/pound. (on 9/29/17 we discounted our prices by 25¢ )

If you don’t want all the nuts, we will pay you 50¢ for each pound of chestnuts you gather and don’t take home.
Be sure to bring water and snacks. It takes about one hour for one adult to gather 25 pounds of nuts.
Maps and directions are available or call if you need help finding us.
We are outside a lot this time of year. Be ready to leave a message.

SILT Showcase September 20th

Red Fern Farm and the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust will be hosting a showcase at Red Fern Farm on Wednesday, September 20 from 10:00 – 2:00. The showcase will include a tour of Red Fern Farm’s chestnut and pawpaw groves, lunch (including venison, pawpaw bars, and persimmon brownies), and information about protecting farm land with SILT. A lawyer and appraiser will be available to answer your questions about land easements and other protection options.

Tom and Kathy in Pawpaw patch
Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice standing in their pawpaw patch at Red Fern Farm.

Space is limited, pre-register by Friday, September 15th by emailing or call (515)278-0550 to reserve your spot. This event is free and open to the public.

Red Fern Farm Showcase Flyer