Farm Tour Diaries: In a Nutshell

By: Amy Spitalnick

In a Nutshell

Photo: the California Walnut Board.

Green walnut hulls lay scattered on the muddy ground we navigated through gusts of rain. A storm had upended the best-laid plans of our hosts, representatives of the California Walnut Board, for our group of nutritionists and journalists to observe the harvest of omega-3-rich walnuts on an 160-acre orchard in California’s Central Valley.

Orchard owner Frank Rebolo, one of 4,000 growers in California—the state produces 99 percent of the country’s commercial supply of walnuts—is hands-on when it comes to harvesting the crop. As we huddled in a shed around Frank and his wife, Elza, he showed us samples of hulls that easily split open to reveal the walnut shell, a sign the crop is ripe. After the walnuts are hulled, in sheds like the one sheltering us, they await hours of drying before they’re ready to be trucked to processing plants for shelling, sorting, and packing. Truly enormous reserves of patience are required of famers like Frank. It takes five or six years for a walnut tree to even begin its productive life.

Timing is critical: a year’s harvest must be accomplished in just a matter of weeks, from roughly late September to early November. Here it was mid-October, and because of the storm, work at Frank’s orchard would be delayed several days, until the mud dried sufficiently for him and his crew to operate their equipment. Vehicles that clamp onto trees and shake the walnuts loose from their branches play a significant role in the harvest. On our way back to our bus, we noticed a “shaker” slumped in the mud. News of a farm crop lost to inhospitable weather always struck me as unfortunate, but at a remove. Now, having met Frank and Elza, it’s personal.

To learn more about walnuts, visit walnuts.org.

Here are a few fantastic VT walnut recipes to try:

 

Comments (0)

recent posts

  • 8555265754_38fa467a5d
    Farm Tour Diaries: Costa Rica
    By: Amy Spitalnick | Comments (2)

    It’s pouring rain, and together with farmers and their families and fellow journalists, I’m huddled in a shelter open to wet gusts of wind. In the growing dark, candles are lit and a halved green coconut is handed to me, along with a straw. I sip the fresh, sweet coconut READ MORE

  • Screen shot 2013-03-13 at 11.23.32 AM
    Farm Tour Diaries: Ballymaloe
    By: Mary Margaret Chappell | Comments (8)

    When I was planning a trip to Ireland last spring, I found myself racking my brain for where I wanted to go. My main destination was the Dingle Peninsula to spend time READ MORE

  • rainier1
    Farm Tour Diaries: Washington Apple Harvest
    By: Tami Fertig | Comments (0)

    Just how did all those perfect apples get from the tree to your grocery store? Chances are, a lot of them came from Washington State—where around 65 percent of the country’s apples are grown. To see the fall harvest of my fave crunchy fruit first-hand, I recently toured the orchards READ MORE

  • Farm Tour Diaries: Get Your U-Pick On!
    Farm Tour Diaries: Get Your U-Pick On!
    By: Vegetarian Times | Comments (0)

    I’m from Massachusetts, and for us New Englanders autumn is a special season. The air is brisk, and the leaves are splashed with magnificent reds, oranges, and yellows like a Monet painting. READ MORE

  • Farm Tour Diaries: California's Walnut Harvest Celebration
    Farm Tour Diaries: California’s Walnut Harvest Celebration
    By: Janah Adickman | Comments (2)

    I recently had the pleasure of attending the Walnut Harvest Celebration in Sacramento, Calif.  “A celebration?” you may ask. Well, yes, indeed it was. Walnuts are harvested once a year from September to October, when the farmers rejoice in the fruit (or nuts, rather) of their labor. READ MORE

  • Can you feel the pulse?
    Farm Tour Diaries: Can you feel the pulse?
    By: Amy Spitalnick | Comments (0)

    It doesn’t get much better for a legume-loving veggie like me than going “from field to plate” with pulses, a branch of the legume family that includes beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas. I happily signed up for this summer’s media tour sponsored by Pulse Canada and the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. READ MORE

  • In a Nutshell
    Farm Tour Diaries: In a Nutshell
    By: Amy Spitalnick | Comments (0)

    Photo: the California Walnut Board. Green walnut hulls lay scattered on the muddy ground we navigated through gusts of rain. A storm had upended the best-laid plans of our hosts, representatives of READ MORE