Mt Irvine ripe for chestnut picking

Some people go a bit nuts in the Mountains in autumn, while others prefer to pick them fresh from the farm and add them to their favourite recipes.

This year’s short chestnut and walnut harvesting season is underway and many families are heading to chestnut farms in Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine to enjoy a fun and healthy day out.

Mark Bancroft, from Kookootonga farm at 247 Mt Irvine Road, said chestnuts and walnuts are currently falling onto the ground in abundance ready for picking and he’s hopeful the harvesting season will continue until the end of April.

“Chestnuts are not grown in a lot of places in Australia apart from the Victorian Alps and Southern Ranges, but they do extremely well here in Mt Irvine where there are the right kinds of conditions,” Mr Bancroft said.

Mr Bancroft and his wife, Robyn, live on the farm with Robyn’s parents Bill and Ruth Scrivener, who planted most of the nut orchard in the ’50s but whose family established the farm in 1897.

“We also run 150 super-fine Merino sheep for wool, but growing chestnuts and walnuts has been a tradition here for more than 100 years.

“We have people who came nut picking here when they were a child and now return every year with their children and grandchildren.

“The nuts are ripe and ready when the pods they’re in fall to the ground.

“The walnuts can be picked by hand, while the chestnuts are contained in burrs that are a bit spiky, so some people like to wear gloves when picking them or break the burrs open using their shoes — wearing a sturdy pair of shoes is advisable.

“Entry to Kookootonga is free every day during the harvest season, picked nuts are put in supplied plastic buckets and then paid for by weight.”

The Mt Wilson/Mt Irvine Progress Association recommends driving around the twin villages to look for signs outside participating orchards.

Nut-picking locations posted on the association’s website include Kookootonga, Nutwood Farm, Campanella Cottage and Fern Hill.

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