Extra-virgin Olive Oil is not the only thing we produce at the Freedom Farm, we also produce hundreds and hundreds of kilos of organic, sustainable and hand-harvested Almonds every year. What does that actually mean though and what makes our Almonds preferable to the ones available in your local supermarket? Follow me on a nutty journey to find out!
Are Freedom Farm Almonds really organic?
Short answer: YES! We do not use any artificial chemicals, fertilisers, or pesticides anywhere on the Freedom Farm/
Long answer: The truth is however, that we cannot afford the lengthy and expensive process of organic certification and we probably never will.
What makes Freedom Farm Almonds “sustainable”?
Commercially produced Almonds are almost always irrigated, that means precious water from our rivers and streams is redirected in an effort to force the earth to support ever increasing numbers of trees. Artificial irrigation is invariably combined with mono-culture, ploughing, and chemical fertilisers. This is because the trees are planted extremely close together and the soil would otherwise be unable to support such dense planting.
We do not irrigate our trees, instead the trees are planted far apart and we use water-wise permaculture techniques to catch and store natural rainwater in the ground. Fertiliser comes in the form of good old fashioned animal manure and we never ever plough our fields.
How our Almonds are grown, harvested, and prepared by hand.
During the months of September and October, huge machines harvest the almonds by violently shaking the trees to get the almonds to fall off before they are whisked away by massive conveyor belts into waiting trucks. The process is noisy, smelly and uses vast quantities of gasoline.
Our process is a lot more labour intensive. We, most often with the help of our valiant volunteers, harvest the almonds by whacking them mercilessly with long sticks and collecting them into large nets.
Holly and Callum whacking the trees.
Then we carry the almonds in big baskets to the farmhouse and the laborious task of de-husking begins. Each almond must individually be freed from its velvety jacket in a marathon task that tasks days and days. The good news is that our goats absolutely love eating them and turning them into a rich and nutritious manure.
Every almond will pass through human hands several times on it’s journey to become food.
Once the husks are removed it’s time to dry the almonds for 2-3 days. Again we do this all by hand, laying the almonds out in the sun on special racks.
You know the almonds are dry when you can shake them and hear the little nut rattling around inside the shell. Once the almonds are dry we must store them carefully in a waterproof and well ventilated environment away from hungry mice until it’s time for them to be used.
So, that is the truth behind the product. Healthy, natural, chemical free almonds grown and harvested using sustainable methods. Possibly more expensive than the almonds you can buy in your local supermarket but without a doubt a superior and more ethical way to get your nuts!
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