OC grad plants hazelnuts here as a sustainable crop
Oberlin College environmental studies students planted a new crop on the grounds of the Lewis Environmental Studies Center Tuesday. But it did not, and never will, involve tilling the soil.
The crop is hazelnut trees, brought to Oberlin by 1970 Oberlin College graduate Philip Rutter, one of the nation’s foremost experts on nut crop agroforestry and founder of the American Chestnut Society. Rutter said hazelnuts are an outstanding crop to demonstrate sustainable practices with many commercial applications.
“I can tell you with a straight face, they are nutritionally superior to soy beans,” Rutter said. “The oil is the exact chemical twin to olive oil. And once you plant them, you never have to till the soil again. With soy beans or corn, you plow up acres and acres to plant this crop, then you have to do it all over again next year.”
The trees are actually more like bushes, attaining a height of about 10 feet, and spreading out to about 10 feet wide. Rutter said mature plants have massive root systems that help prevent soil erosion.
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