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The Center for Agroforestry

UMCA News Release

Missouri Chestnut Roast scheduled for Oct. 16

September 10, 2004

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The chestnut: It’s not just for Christmas anymore.

The second annual Missouri Chestnut Roast, scheduled for Oct. 16 at the University of Missouri Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center (HARC) in New Franklin, Mo., will feature fire-roasted chestnuts and much, much more.

More than 1,000 people attended last year’s event, where they enjoyed samples of the best Missouri food products from mushrooms and elk burgers to goat cheese, honey, wines and pastries.

This year’s Chestnut Roast coincides with National Chestnut Week, and the venerable nut will be the centerpiece of the celebration along with other Missouri-grown nuts such as pecan and black walnut, said event coordinator Julie Rhoads. “We’re excited about the consumer interest emerging for these nuts and for the production of value-added products such as jellies and candies that contain the nuts,” she said.

With live bluegrass music, tours of the 660-acre HARC site and more than 30 vendors and exhibitors, the Roast aims to entertain and educate Missouri families. HARC and MU Center for Agroforestry research and initiatives, as well as the beauty of the River Hills region, will be showcased.

Gene Garrett, UMCA director, said he has been “taken aback by the interest level from both landowners and families” in the annual event. “We’ll continue to offer opportunities like this to generate awareness for agroforestry practices and the products that can be harvested through them.”

The mild, sweet-tasting chestnut, once a staple food in medieval Europe, is making a comeback among epicures and health-conscious consumers in the United States. Craig Cyr, executive chef and owner of Cherry Street Wine Cellar in Columbia, will present a chestnut cooking demonstration at the event.

MU forestry associate professor Michael Gold said consumers are only now becoming aware of the nutritional benefits of the chestnut and other nuts. "Black walnut and pecan, among others, are very heart-healthy," he said.

One highlight of the research farm is the 185-year-old Thomas Hickman house, one of the oldest brick homes still standing in Missouri. It is being developed as an interpretive visitors’ center, complete with period gardens and exhibits featuring the natural and agricultural history of the Missouri River Hills. This year, landscape artists from the region will exhibit and sell their work.

The free event begins at 11 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. For directions and more information, log on to and click on "Upcoming Events." Or, contact Julie Rhoads at (573) 882-3234 or by e-mail at

--Forrest Rose
Information Specialist
(573) 882-6843

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