Introducing myself: Dan Wood - Big Moon Farm

Hi All! Wanted to first say thank you to everyone who has shared so much knowledge and experience on this forum. It’s wonderful to have found a resource outside of the typical social media spaces.

My family and I are in the process of developing a regenerative perennial agriculture system in Franklin County GA (8a). Our farm is located in Northeast Georgia and our vision is to transition ~60 acres of cattle pasture to orchards. Our primary enterprise will be focused around culinary chestnuts (Mollisima) but we also plan to establish a variety of fruit plantings.

We are on a steep learning curve. Our first chestnut seedlings (approx 550) will be planted out in fall 2023.

The name “Big Moon Farm” was coined by my 3 year old when we began searching for land a few years ago. It is provisional and subject to change but has so far stuck with us throughout this journey.

Looking forward to connecting and learning!

~Dan Wood


Hi Dan. Exciting adventure to start an orchard. I go in the fall to a u-pick chestnut farm

Best of luck!



welcome Dan. i just planted a 3 acre mixed orchard this spring mostly for personal use but plan to sell my extras. im trialing 5 Chinese chestnuts here in z4a. if they survive, ill add more. also planted apples, mulberries, serviceberries, sour and nanking cherries, honeyberries, black raspberries, hybrid hazels, elderberries, blueberries and a few apricots. good luck on yours. i like the name. there are quite a few chestnut growers on here that can make recommendations.


Also, I saved 10 of the biggest and stratified last winter. 5 germinated and are now about a foot tall.Long term proposition to grow from seeds though.


Welcome Dan

A local farm here has about 40 acres of Chestnuts and 40 acres of Pecans. We always visit during his Chestnut festival in the fall which has become a big event.

Any plans for other crops that will produce revenue a little sooner?

We grow and sell about 8 acres of PYO fruit in central NC. Mostly Blueberries and Blackberries but Peaches and Apples too. Farm was a big sinkhole that we shoveled money into for the first 5 years but things have really taken off since my son took over.


60 acres.
Not only would I love to have 60 acres of tillable ground but I’d also be in way over my head.
I also like high maintenance crops. I have roughly 4 acres of peaches.
So chestnuts. I think someone else posted this question so need to reply twice: are other crops also in your future?
Chestnuts might be the way to manage 60 acreages without going crazy.


Hi Alan, that’s very cool! I didn’t know Route 9 did pick your own. We have purchased their nuts and flour in the past. I think it was Greg Miller that said something like the Southeast has great potential for Chinese Chestnut. I know others have had good success so we shall see if we can build on that.


Thanks to everyone for the welcome and replies! @blueberrythrill would you be willing to share the name of the Chestnut and Pecan farm in NC that you mentioned? I would love to research them. I’m very familiar with the money sink issue. It’s a different kind of investment for sure. An acquaintance in the growing community once told me, “off farm income is a great alley crop.” So we think context is everything. So cool to hear that you are now reaping the rewards of 5 years of hard work!

We are trying to be deliberately slow and inefficient in the beginning in order to set up for a long term generational future for the farm. We don’t want a monoculture of Chestnut. We chose chestnut because we love them and believe in the promise of perennial agriculture as a more sustainable lower input system theoretically. So we focused on that when we were looking for land and again, theoretically, it should be a great backbone to the commercial side. Our soils should be ideal and our woodland is all oak, hickory, persimmon, etc. But we want to see that it works before we commit more acreage. We are starting with seedlings from Auburn AL and U of MO mother trees so (theoretically) the genetics should be suitable for our climate. As Jim @thebentonpeach said, something at that scale might be manageable without going crazy and not going crazy is definitely the goal as the farm takes up more time and replaces more income. In the meantime, while we dial in the chestnut system (and make mistakes) we plan to trial a whole lot of other fruits and nuts. We have a handful of mature pecans already left over from the old homestead so that could be an option. In the “nursery” right now we have wild/american plum, elder, pawpaw, mulberry, and fig that will all go to the farm. We will add juneberry, American and asian persimmon, and nanking cherry next year. The current plan is for these to be more for adding biodiversity and fun and totally safe to fail. 1/2 of the farm is still in cattle with our friends at Broad River Farm who help keep an eye on the place when we aren’t there and they lease the land adjacent to the S so it will be easy to move the herd when we are ready to start work on that side.

In terms of easily marketable potential crops that produce sooner if we wanted to make a go of transitioning to full time more quickly, we would like to trial blackberry, muscadine, heat tolerant raspberry (in very select locations), southern heirloom apples, and peaches. We don’t live at the farm right now but my work schedule is such that I can get up there a few times a week. The current thinking is to set up/design a small home scale orchard near where the future homesite will be for these trials. If something sticks, we would scale it up within the larger orchard design.

Long story longer - we are bootstrapping for now (safe to fail), I would love more than anything to jump in with both feet and go full time but we are trying to resist that urge, and the hope is that the chestnut enterprise would allow me to slowly transition away from my current career into farming full time.

I would love to share more details if anyone is interested in the nitty gritty, but that is a crack at summing up the last few years of planning! Now I just need to get the 550 seedlings in the nursery into the ground! The Japanese beetles are doing their best to stymie those efforts.




There are other posts about starting orchards so a lot of the same advice would apply. You may want to consider a layout of the succession of trees because the chestnuts take a lower pH relative to many other fruits/nuts. So if you have to drive pH lower you don’t want to turn around and push higher.

Also a shorter route to getting some income may be to sell seedlings. You already have the setup for that and could use that as a stepping stone to explore what would work on your land.

Best of Luck

You might look at this post:

I would like to try the Oiknos plums but don’t need that many seeds for a pure, likely to fail, experiment

Local grower is High Rock Farm. They have some equipment to pick up the chestnuts and clean and sort but nothing on the scale of Route 9 Coop.

I noticed from the Route 9 Coop Facebook page that they have a huge refrigerated processing area and warehouse where they stack bulk bins 4 high. Wanted to check out their website but it was not working.

We have been at it for 40 years but it took 30 years before we really succeeded. We started with just a few acres and expanded as our skills grew. My son who owns the farm now has kicked things into high gear and has over 10,000 followers on Facebook.

Over the years, we learned that success requires above average growing skills but superior marketing skills. We could not hit our financial goals with excellent growing skills but just average marketing skills. We enjoyed growing fruit more than marketing fruit, but my son is just the opposite. .

Are you located at a higher elevation? Raspberries and Heirloom Apples may work better at a higher elevation. Raspberries did not work here. We are reworking our 1000 dwarf Apple tree orchard with better rootstocks since B9 was a bust here. In general they do not like the piedmont area.of NC. I assume that would apply to Piedmont area of Ga too. We got some good advice from a very experienced commercial Apple grower in central VA who has some heirlooms and some standard commercial varieties on about 100 acres. He believes most heritage apple varieties have gone out of favor for very good reasons. For the most part, we have not found most heritage apples to be more insect or disease tolerant than modern apples.

Good luck on your new project. Sounds like fun.

Best of luck!
Are the seedlings in containers or healed into the nursery area?
The new growth looks chlorotic…not nearly as much of an issue as it might seem… they’ll look much healthier once planted in their final location and the roots can as many nutrients as they’d like.

Hey Dan, Welcome! Quite ambitious plans you have. Wishing you all the best both now and in future years. BTW am located in Franklin County Georgia myself approx. a mile from North Fork Broad River. Without being too personal or specific just wondered what part of the county is your farm located? I am up in what is generally considered Red Hill area not too far from ear the Stephens County line. Do some home gardening/farming but dont plan on anything commercial. If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask. Randy/GA

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Thanks for this! I have very low expectations for raspberries. That’s great to hear your advice / experience about heirlooms / heritage apples. My assumption was definitely that there would be some genetic disease tolerance. What rootstock are you changing to? I realize it’s a can of worms and we are nowhere near ready for apples, but just interested in your experience.

Thanks @thebentonpeach! The seedlings are in air prune beds. There’s some chlorosis but I’m not too worried about it. We did a small scale air prune bed trial last year and the chlorosis was a lot worse than this. But the root systems were great and as you mentioned once planted out they were fine. We changed the medium in the beds this year and they are growing well! That picture was almost two months ago.

Hi Randy, it’s great to virtually meet someone in our area! We are near Carnesville. I’m sure our soil are similar and I would love to hear what you have going on at your place. I’ll send you a PM.

We sell all of the Apples PYO and use dwarf trees to make picking easier.

Dwarf trees go into production much sooner too.

Moving from Bud9 to G11 and G41 which produce vigorous trees of about the right size for our climate

Insects and disease are worse on Apples than anything we grow but they offer more profit potential than anything we grow.

Certain heritage Apples seem to offer more disease tolerance than modern Apples but overall they are all much harder to grow than we expected, especially in a hot, wet climate like mine.


Hey neighbor, I was wondering which apples you’ve tried that didn’t do well? I was hoping GoldRush and William’s Pride might have a chance here in NC 7b, but if you’ve already trialed either I may change my selection, or just give up on apples. This would just be for a small, and so far hypothetical, backyard orchard, with trees heavily pruned for airflow, light, and height.


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I can share my experience…

Goldrush is good Apple here but has a tendency to split. I don’t know why, Apple pathologist who works with a lot of larger commercial growers did not think it was a common problem. Trees purchased from 3 different nurseries but all on Bud 9 rootstock. They all have the same problem.

Williams Pride did not work for me. Big problem with water core. Beautiful large Apples with very tough skin.

NC7B in central NC is lousy area to try to grow apples unless you are at a a higher elevation, which is often 7A. . Fireblight is huge problem most years and can kill your trees. Rots are a huge problem too. Insects can be managed.

Apple quality here is not as good as Apples grown at higher elevations where the
nightime temps are cooler. Don’t plant any Apples on Bud9. MM111 does better but you have to manage a larger tree and wait much longer for fruit.

Peaches are easier than Apples to grow here and Rabbiteye Blueberries and Blackberries are easier than Peaches.

Don’t want to discourage you but you are likely to have a positive experience with the Blueberries and Backberries and negative experience with the Apples.

Please feel free to message me with other questions.

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Thanks for the info! That’s a shame about the splitting – I didn’t know that was something that could happen to an apple. I was aware from a post by Scott that William’s Pride had the water core problem, but my thinking was I’ll just eat around it in the summer while waiting for the real crop of Goldrush later in the season. But if they’re mostly going to be split, then I may invest my efforts in peaches instead, which I prefer! The NC ext and these forums just made peaches sound like a real pain in this area with constant spraying, which I’d like to minimize. Though Scott’s spray schedule of 4-5 sprays of indar/spinosad/kaolin doesn’t seem too onerous–I’m just wary I’ll change my tune once I’m out there actually doing it!

Roughly what percentage of Goldrush split? Have you tried Sundance? That seems like another resistant variety (though same Golden Delicious parentage as Goldrush). If only half split, maybe I just chalk that up to the worm bin’s share and enjoy the rest. Maybe they would do better on less dwarfing root stock, as you recommend, as the larger root system may help with even water uptake. And I definitely don’t mind twice yearly heavy pruning, since I’ll only have a few trees total.

I will 100% take your advice on the rabbiteye blueberries and blackberries. Those, and fig trees, will probably makeup the backbone of my small planting, since I don’t want to work that hard to fight pests and disease. Maybe just some insect netting for after the berries have set, to keep out birds and SWD. Have you had trouble with SWD? They sound awful.

I’ve also read on these forums that fuzzy kiwi can do well once established in our climate, so I’d like to trellis that over a future deck as opposed to grapes, since I don’t really want to be spraying tons of stuff to fight fungus and pests right up against my living area, and it sounds like grapes are another tough one here (other than muscadines, which I’m not super into).

I need to further straighten out my plans and then make my own thread on here. Hope it’s okay for me to @ you when I do!

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