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Harvest is Here

Almond harvest is here! Almond trees are shaking all over the valley and it's officially harvest season. About a week ago we started shaking on our farm.





But before you even start shaking, mowing is the true first sign of harvest. We don't just mow to make the orchard a cleaner environment. Grass could cause harvest equipment to get clogged up and unnecessary debris get stuck with the almonds  Weeds also take vital nutrients and water away from the trees and root system.


Once mowing is done, the orchard is ready for shaking! I like to say we shake the L out of them. Makes sense if you remember where I grew up. In Northern California we say A-MEND, just like salmon. None of that ALL-MEND business. But regardless of what you want to call it, almond shaking is how we get the nuts on the ground.



After we started shaking, the next day we were ready to start sweeping. Sweeping is the process of getting the almonds in nice, clean windrows so they can be picked up. Unfortunately, th…

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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