Workshops – Books – Tours – Trees – Plants

Towards A Climate Resilient Food Economy:

We have passionately searched the Sierra Nevada and Western States to re-discover the living library of plants still scattered across Northern California, those trees and plants left over from the 1800’s and early 1900’s Gold Rush era.   These are the grandmother trees that have become climate resilient with no human attention for the last 100 years. They give the best fruit and nuts in conditions that most fruit and nut trees can not endure with large annual temperature variations. These  grandmother trees have learned to thrive under the most harsh conditions. We want to make them available to growers, gardeners and communities throughout the West Coast.

We have personally found these trees and have taken cuttings directly from the 100+ year old grandmother trees that still cling to life in ghostly, historic orchards. We offer very rare and exclusive plants – some may have only just been rediscovered.

95% of plants available during the 1800s are no longer available today.  We are saving what is left before they die. 


Thanks to Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply (originally started by our founder Amigo Bob Cantisano), a collection of some of our favorite species and varieties will be available through Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden for the 2024/25 Bareroot Season. 

Stay Tuned…


The SOLD OUT Varieties listed below are for informational purposes only. These are many of the plants we have found and sold over the years. While some of these varieties will be available this Autumn, many will not. 

Hope is on the Horizon.

We will have historic fruit and nut trees available for preorder

November 1, 2024.

Thank you for all your Support!

Orders only accepted via the website.

Donna de Lyon

Out of stock
Product Details

This European chestnut (Castenea sativa) is the best of more than 80 chestnut trees we have discovered and evaluated over the last 40 years. It is truly superior, producing very large nuts that are extremely sweet, and easy to peel. This chestnut tastes great and sweet even when eaten raw. It also keeps, under refrigeration, for much longer than other chestnut varieties and species. The carbohydrates mature into sugars that, under the right conditions, have developed a tropical flavor by springtime. It is superior to the widely planted Colossal, a Gillet introduction that was misnamed by the man who rediscovered it in the 1970s. We have chosen to propagate this variety because of it's superior quality. The Colossal, actually the Marron de Quercy, is located on a homestead in Nevada City and is a good nut, but we prefer the Marron de Lyon, or Donna de Lyon as we have renamed her in honor of Donna, the beloved grandmother who lived on the homestead where the mother tree is located. Our variety was sold by Gillet beginning in the mid 1880s as Marron de Lyon. Our trees are grafted, using the scion from the mother tree, onto seedling chestnut rootstock. This variety was chosen by the Slow Food Ark of Taste to be honored and saved for posterity.

The grandmother tree is a very healthy 110+ year young specimen growing at 2800’ in a mixed Gillet homestead orchard in Camptonville, Yuba County, a vibrant mining town of the mid 1800s, and still populated with many of Gillet's trees. Camptonville was also the home of Lester Pelton, who in 1870 invented the Pelton wheel. Lester changed the course of human evolution by inventing the device for making hydroelectric power. Remember the tune "Camptown ladies sing this song, doo dah, doo dah..."? That's Camptonville. Camptonville is a fascinating old mining camp, with many Gillet trees. We will be introducing more from this area in coming years.

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