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Walnut Day

We all have our day. A day to celebrate you. Whether it's your birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, there is a day to celebrate you. There are also a million days to celebrate things. Pizza lover's day, Donut Day, Puppy Day, well today is National Walnut Day.


Today is a day to celebrate walnuts. I may be Almond Girl Jenny, but walnuts are a close second in my nut heart. My Dad is a walnut grower and I grew up surrounded by walnuts just as much as I grew up surrounded by almonds. Walnuts are my favorite baking nut. There is just something about banana nut bread that makes me happy.


Walnuts also make me healthy. They are a healthy punch of protein, fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, and healthy carbohydrates. Who knew one nut could have so many health benefits?


But did you also know that walnuts are the only nut that has any significant omega 3's? Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that is a plant based food source and walnu…

Farm Tour: Mariani Nut Company

I can't lie, I was super excited when I found out I had the opportunity to tour Mariani Nut Company as part of the Farm Tank Summit. Yes, the summit was a good opportunity, and I got to tour a cool organic farm Full Belly Farm, but Mariani Nut is pretty impressive.
Mariani Nut is a family farm in Winters, Ca. They grow almonds and walnuts as well as process their own nuts and a handful of other grower's nuts. They have been in the business since the early 70's, when almonds were being introduced in a larger scope to farmers throughout California. They are a family business that is integrated and innovative in what they do. They have deep roots in farming and keeping the business family operated is important to them. What a better tour guide than a family member too, Matt Mariani the son of the starters, showed us around.









The afternoon started with a picnic lunch in an almond orchard. How else would you enjoy lunch while meeting a farmer? I loved this, and I loved that he was so welcoming to our group being in his orchard. Let me remind you, I attended this farm tour in September, during almond harvest. There were almonds on the ground in windrows, waiting to be picked up, and they stopped everything so we could have lunch in an orchard. I don't know how many people appreciated this, but being a farmer I appreciated it immensely.




Glimpse into our picnic lunch in an almond orchard




Matt shared the history of his family while we ate lunch. His family members are Croatian immigrants from Santa Clara and settled in Winters in the 70's to start farming. They knew then how fertile and valuable the land was and invested in it for the future. Today, Mariani Nut is one of the largest, family owned almond and walnut processors in California. Matt leads sales and marketing for the company now.










They may still be a family run business, but their reach is beyond that. They employ 200 people at the processing plant just up the road. Because of their size, they are able to operate year round and keep all but 5% of the employees on an annual basis. They operate a huller, sheller and processor in one. I have toured a huller and sheller before as well as a processor but never all at one facility. They are unique that once product arrives fresh from the field, it stays there for all processing until it is ready for the consumer. I wish I could have taken you all inside with me. It was a sight to see for sure. Due to the nature of the business and competition I couldn't take pictures and I can't share with you their trade secrets from behind the processing wall.






Outside look of their processing facility
Shell pile outside the processing plant
 


The huller and sheller runs for 4-5 months during the peak harvest season. They will then store the shelled almonds and process throughout the year as demand comes in. With 75% of their crop staying in America and the balance going overseas, they have much more control over when they process their crop. To give you some perspective that massive pile of shells wasn’t even half of what it would be at the end of harvest season when they are done shelling the almonds. 




They market their product in natural, whole, sliced, diced, slivered, chopped and blanched. They even have a seasoned line of all kinds of yummy flavors. Mariani is an example of a diversified and integrated company who really does do it all. From farming, hulling, shelling, processing, marketing and selling a Mariani family member has their hands in creating a quality, healthy and delicious product ready to enjoy!




Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny

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