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California Nut Ranch Seeks Armchair Farmers
Ken and Melanie Murray are looking for a few good "nuts" to share the risks of farming.
The young California couple, who recently married and settled down on an established almond orchard, knew they had to find a better way to market their crop after receiving just $1.20 a lb. for their nuts after their first harvest. Their "nutty" solution was to rent trees to "armchair farmers" in other parts of the country, promising the entire yield of an almond tree to the renter. It's an idea they say could work with other crops.
"We think this is a good crop to start with since many people pay outrageous prices often as high as $5.50 a lb. or more for shelled almonds. We're able to offer fresh nuts, shipped direct after harvest, and an opportunity to become involved in an actual farming operation. It's a good deal all around," says Melanie.
The Murrays, advertising in national magazines like Country Journal and Mother Earth News, offer to rent almond trees for $25 per year. The average yield per tree is 7 to 8 lbs. of shelled nuts but can vary to as low as 2 to 3 lbs. in a bad year up to 10 lbs. or more in a good year. The agreement with renters guarantees them a 5 lb. minimum. After harvest, nuts are shipped to renters postpaid.
"We make it clear to customers that it's impossible for us to harvest each tree individually. We simply harvest the total crop from our 22 acres and obtain an average yield per tree. This year we have a great crop and expect trees to yield 9 to 10 lb. apiece. People will get a great deal," explains Melanie, noting that it's still not too late to get in on this year's harvest.
The Murrays got their idea from an article they read about maple sugar harvesters who made a similar arrangement with city dwellers for the sap in their trees.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Heather Creek Farm, P.O. Box 92, Guinda, Calif. 95637 (ph 916 796-3649).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #5