What is in this article?:
- Family walnut business thrives with custom services
- Walnut processing: 5,000 tons annually
- Following nuts from field to handler
- Recycling bolsters bottom line
- Fedora Farms, Inc., a mutli-faceted operation near Meridian, Calif., offers a variety of custom services to other growers.
- Fully automated 22-ton per hour hullder, drier busy season-long.
- Electronic bar coding improves crop traceability.
- Family provides custom planting services using state-of-art GPS planting system.
Recycling bolsters bottom line
Although it lacks high-tech glamour, recycling also helps improve the business’s bottom line. For example, waste water from the hulling process is piped to a settling pond where mud washed off the nuts collects at the bottom and the sediment-free water flows through a drainage ditch to the orchards. Meanwhile, the hulls, twigs and other debris removed during the hulling process are sold as fuel for a co-generation plant. “For years we looked for an alternative use of this material, instead of burning it in waste pile.” Sib says. “Finally, we found a buyer. He blends it with other types of waste to power boilers for generating electricity.”
Chris attributes part of the success of Fedora Farms to the way the business has grown. “Instead of having to start by paying for our equipment and facilities in one lump sum, we’ve been able to take baby steps,” he explains. “We started with a huller and then took a baby step to get a bigger huller. Then, we took another baby step to go with bulk handling of the nuts. By advancing a little at a time, we’ve been able to continue growing without having a big capital expense at the beginning.”
Open, honest communications with clients is another factor in the steady growth of their operations. “We don’t overcharge, we don’t over-promise and we don’t avoid our customers,” Sib explains. “If they call, we’ll answer the phone and take our lumps if we made a mistake. We may not like the conversation, but we’ll have it. Growers will respect you more for that than if you try to avoid them or just leave them a message on their voice mail.”