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News From Delmarvelous Farms

Food Finds
Food Network Holiday Special

Food Finds, a hit TV show on the Food Network, visited Delmarvelous Farms. Food Finds filmed our harvest, a chestnut roast and a seven course chestnut feast.

Delmarvelous Chestnuts in the News

The Petitts and Delmarvelous Chestnuts were featured in the New Journal, Wilmington DE Today. Below are excerpts from "Native Delaware: Homegrown Chestnuts are Limited in Region" by Margo McDonough.

Chestnuts were plentiful at one time along the East Coast of the United States, but a blight destroyed most of the trees about 100 years ago.
Danielle Quigley

Chestnuts were on the menu at the first Thanksgiving, and many of us still serve them at the big feast, often mixed into a stuffing or root vegetable dish. Today, most of the U.S. chestnut supply comes from far-off locales, including China, Japan, Italy and Spain -- but some are grown right here in Delaware.

Delmarvelous Chestnuts, a farm located outside Townsend, ranks as one of the top five commercial chestnut growers in the U.S., even though only 16 acres of trees are harvested there each year. The farm is operated by Gary and Nancy Petitt, who purchased the property and began establishing the orchard in 1993.

Chestnuts are cholesterol-free and almost fat-free, according to Dr. Sue Snider, cooperative extension food and nutrition specialist. In addition, they have a high fiber content and are a source of complex carbohydrates.

Although chestnuts are a smart food choice any day of the year, most of us only think about them at holiday time. Which is why Nancy Petitt's life is so frenetic right now. "We're shipping out a couple hundred orders a day," says Petitt. "Chestnuts are all I do this time of year, other than sleep."

The Petitts' schedule ramps up right after Labor Day, when the first of the crop comes in. Using a mechanical harvester, the couple spends about four hours a day in the orchard in September. By October, they're harvesting eight hours a day. "And this all started as my husband's little retirement project," says Nancy Petitt.

But the animation in Petitt's voice makes it clear that chestnut farming holds more appeal than a retirement spent playing golf or bridge. She sings the praises of the American-Asian chestnut hybrid that Delmarvelous grows: "Our chestnuts are a lot sweeter than Asian chestnuts. And, unlike the colossal variety grown in the western U.S., these chestnuts peel easily. The inner skin doesn't stick to the nutmeat."

Other than Delmarvelous Farms and UD's demonstration plot, you won't find many chestnuts trees in Delaware.

"It would be nice to see Delaware homeowners start planting chestnut trees," says Johnson, Kent Country Cooperative Extension agent.

Chestnut Soup Preparation Demonstration

Nancy and Gary Petitt of Delmarvelous Farms gave a live demonstration of how to make chestnut soup on Your Morning on CN8, which aired on the Comcast Network. To obtain a video, write to Nancy Petitt at

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Contact Nancy Petitt at for questions relating to Delmarvelous Chestnuts.
ADDRESS: Delmarvelous Chestnuts, 648 Oak Hill School Road,Townsend, DE 19734-0427
Most recent update: 9/26/11
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