About a year and a half ago, I kept seeing an article from The Guardian about bees and almonds in my Facebook feed. It was going viral and friends were reposting it. I thought, well I know about those things. No need to click through. But then my cousin reposted it with the comment that her cousin was in it. Her cousin is my dad! It was a flashback to the media coverage Dad received back in the late 80s/early 90s for the study he and my uncle were participating in through UC Davis that was looking at traditional versus organic agriculture. People magazine came out to interview them and take photos. That made me a pretty popular junior high school kid for a day in our small town.
Both the People and Guardian articles are linked on our homepage. The Guardian got almost everything right about my parents' farm except that my dad was 85 years old when the article was published. He's a living testament to the power of eating healthy food and caring for our planet.
From The Guardian:
"Letting nature take its course is nothing new for 81-year old Glenn Anderson. He is the first and still one of the few organic almond growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley. His 40-year-old orchard is small – just 20 acres – and has always been chemical free.
“We don’t have pests; we have biodiversity,” says Anderson, who primarily sells directly to individual customers through his Anderson Almonds company. Unlike large industrial almond farms that strip the orchard ground bare to more efficiently treat for insects and fungi, Anderson allows a rich understory to grow, which naturally nourishes the soil and strengthens the trees.
Anderson hires a “beekeeper hobbyist” from northern California every spring to install about 20 hives in his orchard. “We have the opposite of colony collapse at my farm,” says Anderson. “My beekeeper brings weak hives down that he wants to recharge on my property.”
When choosing a plant milk, it’s important to consider how the crop impacts people and native habitats, the carbon footprint and water use.
Anderson says the tradeoff for not using pesticides is that his annual crop yield is lower – typically about 10,000 pounds – and he keeps his orchard small in order to manage its wildness. “I’m averse to an expansion model,” he says. “It doesn’t suit me much.”
And as for industrial-grown almonds? “They taste like cardboard,” he says."