Marketing Chestnuts

There are several options for selling chestnuts. The easiest, if you live near southeast Iowa, is to bring them to Columbus Junction, Iowa where Roger Smith runs  Prairie Grove Chestnut Growers. Roger’s prices will vary slightly from year to year (often increasing). In 2016 he paid $1.30 for smalls, $2.70 for medium, $2.40 for large and $2.50 for extra large. You do need to contact him to schedule a time to meet with him. More details at Roger Smith’s Prairie Grove Chestnut Growers soon.

Here at Red Fern Farm we run a You-Pick business in the fall for our customers who want to harvest their own chestnuts. We and our customers use Nut Wizards to havest all our nuts. These inexpensive, and very quiet, tools can out perform very expensive and noisy machinery for harvesting. See video of Nut Wizzard harvesting chestnuts.

Customer using nut wizard to harvest chestnuts, 2016.

Many people prefer to get the optimum price for their chestnuts. This means direct marketing at events or farmers’ markets. Prices at these markets can range from $3 to $5 a pound.

For extreme marketing profits ( and labor intensity) consider becoming a vendor of roasted chestnuts at Christmas galas.

Keep in mind that most people raised in the USA don’t have a family history of eating chestnuts because of our chestnut trees dying in the early 1900s. People who grew up in other parts of hte world do have traditions involving chestnuts. You may find your deepest and widest markets are to recent immigrants.

Here in southeast Iowa we have found our biggest customer base (85% of all our chestnuts sold) are folks from Western Bosnia.  These people have a tradition of harvesting chestnuts in the fall, getting together with family in an outdoor area and roasting them over an open fire. Our Bosnian custoemrs will buy 100 to 400 pounds of chestnuts at a time, planning to resell or share with family and freinds when they get home (often a 2 to 4 hour drive away).

Our “Anglo” customers will tenatively buy 1 – 10 pounds and ask lots of questions about how to prepare them. Our Bosnians customers try to buy our all that we have.