Midway: October is peak selling season for couple’s orchard

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Debbie Milks, left, and her husband Charlie Novogradac, owner of Chestnut Charlie's in Lawrence.  (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)

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Liz Reeder searches under the trees at Chestnut Charlie's in Lawrence looking for fresh chestnuts that have fallen from the branches above. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)

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Darci, left, and Gilly Falin search the ground for chestnuts during a harvest at Chestnut Charlie's in Lawrence. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)

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William Pershall Rothe-Kushel, right, throws a burr into a compost pile while helping his dad, Jeremy, sort through chestnuts at Chestnut Charlie's in Lawrence. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)

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A collection of chestnuts sits on a sorting table at Chestnut Charlie's in Lawrence. (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)

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Chestnut Charlie's, an organic chestnut orchard in Lawrence, Kan.  (Chris Neal/The Capital-Journal)


As a trial project, Charlie NovoGradac and his wife Debbie Milks started planting chestnut trees in 1995 on old farm ground north ofLawrence. Twenty-two years later, the farm is known as Chestnut Charlie’s, the only organic chestnut farm listed with the ChestnutGrowers of America in Kansas.

Every year the two depend on locals to come help harvest their crop, for a portion of the profits. Picking season fluctuates each year, andwrapped up Oct. 15 as quantity decreased. Now, Chestnut Charlie’s begins selling season — which contrary to the Christmas carol — areserved best fresh in October, instead of roasting on an open fire.

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