With everything we’ve learned about Almonds on this trip there is one thing that is certain. They are actually called “Amonds,” no wait, maybe they are Almonds? No, they are called almonds until you knock the “L” out of them at harvest. So it appears that depending on what county you are in, you better know what the farmers call them or you will lose all your street cred.
We spent the last few days back in the warmth in Almond Country. When I say warmth, I mean 110 degrees warm. For a cold blooded Michigander, this is a number I failed to really understand until trying to bicycle in it. Our team biked from San Francisco to Modesto to meet with the California Almond Board and visit another early innovator in the organic almond industry.
Without AC in the RV it was nice to meet the Almond Board indoors. Tina Owens (Kashi Supply Chain Sustainability) came in for this visit, and the team was happy to have her, as she was our undying source of knowledge about transitional before the ride, and this was going to be one of the more technical meetings we were going to be hosting. Tina presented the board with details on Certified Transitional and gave a pitch to have some more focus on a quickly growing organic industry. Only 0.7% of almond acreage is organic currently and imports of organic is significant. The Almond Board then gave a series of presentations on several of our fields of interest. They spoke on several of their water savings projects as well as the goals of their newly formed organic task force.
After the meeting the team headed over to Anderson Almonds. This organic farm is owned by Glenn and Leslie who were pioneers in the organic industry, and they pride themselves on the health of their soil, the biodiversity of their land, and their passion for healthy organic food. We sat under the “Big Tree” out front (which became the name of Glenn’s daughter Wendy’s almond processing facility) and told stories so entertaining we almost forgot about the heat.
The almond doesn’t fall far from the tree as Glenn’s daughter Wendy is very active in the promotion of the organic almond industry. They host classes on their land and constantly share with neighbors the benefits of organic. After meeting on the farm they invited us to a city hall style dinner with many of their conventional neighbors. It was so cool to watch Tina present about certified transitional and open dialog with many of the farmers about their hesitations with converting to organic. Being a small farmer is tough and adding one more variables to the equation seems daunting for many. We hope Kashi can continue to support these farmers through Certified Transitional.
Singing off from the Cali Coast,