Transparency and sustainability are of the utmost importance to us here at Daily Crunch Snacks. In this spirit, we recently had an insightful conversation with Joe Gardiner of Treehouse Growers farm, the California-based farm that supplies our almonds. Joe and his brothers — John and Jim — currently work to grow and supply some of the best produce you can get your hands on. Joe had a lot to share about Treehouse and the almond industry at large.
Read on to learn about
- The history of Treehouse
- Sustainability efforts at Treehouse
- Their commitment to bee-friendly farming
- The impact of the CA drought
- The farm + the process used to grow and transport almonds from San Joaquin Valley to you via Daily Crunch Snacks!
And if you have any questions at all — please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You have the right to know where the food you’re putting in your body comes from!
The History of Treehouse
Family is at the heart of Treehouse. It all started with Joe’s grandfather, who, in 1946, began planting mainly cotton, potatoes, and tomatoes. As prices for cotton dropped, an opportunity to pivot presented itself. By 1982, right around when oldest brother Jim was born, the Gardiner family decided to begin planting almond trees. This move was led by Joe’s dad, who had actually just written his masters thesis on almond farming in California. Joe reflects upon this decision with gratitude — investing in almonds is risky, relative to investing in other crops, as it takes 3 to 4 years for an almond tree to produce any almonds. The Gardiner family placed a bet on the future demand for almonds. Fortunately, this investment proved profitable. Ever since (going on 80 years now), they’ve focused on almonds intensively.
Joe and his brothers grew up on the farm, but it wasn’t a given that they’d all go into farming. “3rd generation family farms are a rarity these days”, according to Joe. Why? Well, for a plethora of reasons — “to be a farmer today, you need to be a lawyer, a banker, and an agronomist all in one”. Even more, the larger a farm family grows, the more difficult it becomes to provide. “A 50 acre farm doesn’t support what it used to”. But each Gardiner brother made his way back to the farm, eventually.
While Joe loved growing up on the farm, he wasn’t convinced it was his own path forward. So, he left for college, got his masters, and was ready to take on corporate America … until the family farm pulled him back in. And it was “the best decision he’s ever made.” There’s something truly special about farming the same piece of earth that your family has for the past 80 years. When he looks back on his life, he recalls vivid memories. “When you grow up in it, you understand the passion and love and drive” that goes into family farming. There’s a “sense of pride that comes with what” the Gardener family does … “growing something from the earth that’s healthy and good for people.” There’s a drive to protect and preserve the land your family has farmed for decades — both to pass the land along to your family, and to keep providing healthy foods to the greater population.
As you can hopefully tell by now, a lot of love and hard work goes into producing the almonds we use in our snacks at Daily Crunch — all thanks to the Gardiner family. And that’s just one of the reasons Treehouse stands out. Continue reading to learn about their progressive efforts to farm almonds sustainably.
Sustainability Efforts at Gardiner Farms
Over the past 20 years, the Gardiner family has taken notable steps to farm more sustainably. Ultimately, for farmers, practicing sustainability is a win-win. Implementing practices to preserve the land they farm sustains their livelihood in the long run (allowing the farm to continue producing wholesome and nutritious foods for generations to come), and obviously reaps the benefits of sustainability for greater humankind. For these reasons and more, sustainability is a priority at Treehouse. A few of their most notable sustainability efforts include:
Bee-Friendly Certification — As a certified Bee-Friendly Farm and member of the
Pollinator Partnership, Treehouse is committed to raising bee-health awareness and protecting our pollinators through sustainable agricultural practices. ⅓ of the global food supply relies on pollinators! Read more about the importance of bee-friendly farming here.
California Almond Sustainability Program — A relatively new program in the industry,
CASP uses grower-submitted production information to demonstrate the sustainability of the industry to stakeholders and helps growers find ways to improve efficiencies which includes adopting cost-effective, environmentally, and socially responsible practices. It allows farmers to compare their practices to the almond industry’s statewide average, which is beneficial for pushing the industry in the right direction at large.
Micro-Irrigation + Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems — Treehouse employs ultra
efficient irrigation technology to generate more “crop for the drop”, allowing them to use less water per acre. On top of that, their irrigation systems are solar powered!
Zero-Waste — Treehouse upholds a zero waste policy, meaning no almond or even
almond byproduct goes to waste in their process. From the hard shell to the outer hull to the kernel, no part of the almond goes unused. Even rancid almonds (not to be eaten) are leveraged as they go into oil presses and are used in cosmetic products.
Bee-Friendly Almond Farming
Honeybees are essential to the almond farming process. Joe explained to us that almond farmers get a bad wrap when it comes to honeybees, as there’s a general industry misconception that almond farmers are responsible for the deaths of billions of honeybees each year. According to Joe, honeybees are mostly killed by the neighbors of almond farms. As they spray pesticides on their crops, these pesticides affect the honey bees on almond farms. It’s a huge industry issue. Joe suggests working closely with neighboring farms, as they do at Treehouse, to ensure that honeybees don’t die in the process. But all in all, almond farmers love honeybees, they need honeybees, and are only incentivized to keep them alive and healthy! Treehouse is at the forefront of bee-friendly farming and hopes to stand as an example for other almond growers as to how to farm almonds in a way that is bee-friendly.
The Impact of the CA Drought
The California Drought is impacting all of California’s 69,000 farms & ranches. No farm has been spared from the drought conditions, and northern growers have been hit especially hard as they have been completely shut off from any surface water allocations. Fortunately, the majority of Treehouse is in Fresno, Tulare & Kern County, which is in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. This drought is a huge concern to California farmers, and the growers at Treehouse are doing everything in their power to mitigate water usage. The fact of the matter is that water is necessary for growing food, and California Agriculture is critical to North America and much of the Global Food supply. This is more than a farmer concern, but a national and global food supply concern.
Treehouse has been on the leading edge of water conservation efforts. Over the past two decades, Treehouse growers have made an extensive investment in high efficiency water irrigation systems, which have reduced water usage by up to 50% in some areas. In addition, Treehouse growers have invested in ground water recharge basins which are critical for continued ground water storage. Lastly, Treehouse is embarking on a rather exciting Regenerative Agricultural trial (~160 acres) in hopes that the outcome will be improved soil health and water holding capacity. This would be one of the largest Regenerative Agriculture trials in the California Almond industry. If it goes well, it could have very meaningful impacts on how all produce is grown in California.
From Gardiner Farms to You
A lot goes into farming almonds and getting them to us at Daily Crunch, and eventually, to you! Each February, Joe and his brothers begin preparing for the almond bloom. Most namely, Jimmy is busy staging honey bees in various orchards, preparing them for the bloom. Through March and April, almond tree buds burst into beautiful pink and white blooms. As they blossom, honey bees forage for pollen and nectar in the orchard. As they move from tree to tree, they pollinate almond blossoms along the way. The honey bee population nearly doubles in this 3 week time frame! By August, the almonds begin falling off the trees and the harvest begins. The almonds are picked up and delivered to the Huller Sheller where the outer hull is taken off (used as a food stock for livestock). As mentioned above, all bi-products are put to use. They sort through the almonds, mechanically and by hand, to make sure no bad almonds make it through. Then they send the almonds our way! We then put these almonds through our signature 4-day ‘soak - sprout - dehydrate’ process, which makes them easier to digest, more nutrient dense, and uniquely crunchy! We flavor our sprouted & dehydrated nuts with real, clean ingredients -- nothing you won’t recognize or can’t pronounce. We package them up with love and send them to you!
We hope this blog post has given you some insight as to where our almonds come from and the sustainable practices we support in our sourcing. Again, if you have any questions at all, please reach out to us via email at email@example.com.