|Our walnuts might have been called "Hartley" because the nuts are shaped like a heart, as you can see at left. In fact they are named after the developer of the variety. The taste of really fresh walnuts is very different from the walnuts you can find at the supermarket, especially when you toast them right before serving. Hartleys are harvested in late October-- shortly after that time we will begin accepting orders through this web site for small lots (5 pounds and up) of organically grown, harvested and shelled nut meats.||Is this a profitable business??
Check out this analysis from the Ag Econ department at UC Davis. They conclude that a 5 to 20 acre walnut orchard in California will lose between about $500 and $3500 per acre per year. However, that's assuming they're getting $0.61 per pound for in-shell walnuts from a wholesale buyer. And, for conventionally grown walnuts, not organically grown. We wholesale most of our crop and get about $0.90. The real difference is the retail sales to our small lot, internet buyers. It brings the bottom line up just about to the break-even point for our 7.5 acre operation. Some years we make a little money, most years we lose a little, especially if we have equipment costs (like this winter of 2011, when the well pump needed replacement for about $5000).
But we have a lot of fun, eat a lot of walnuts and take great satisfaction in subsidising the consumption of delicious, nutritious walnuts by our friends and neighbors around the world.
Sam and Caroline Bledsoe
Winter Creek Ranch
18080 County Road 70
Brooks, CA 95606
(be sure to include the word "walnuts" in the subject line-- our simple anti-spam measure)