Farming runs deep in the veins of Darren Rice, who grows almonds near Chico about 100 miles north of Sacramento, California.
“It’s in our blood,” he says of his and his brother Kevin’s passion for farming. “I couldn’t do anything else.”
Even Darren’s e-mail address—which includes “almond farmer”—reflects the third-generation farmer’s commitment to producing premium nuts. And it’s that same quest for nothing less than quality that attracted him to Blue Diamond Growers nearly 30 years ago.
“Blue Diamond is setting the standards,” he says. “My philosophy is the cooperative is only going to be as strong as its members.”
And with Blue Diamond, Darren says he knows the grower-members are active in supporting the co-op’s effort to produce a safe, wholesome product.
“Blue Diamond promotes all of those good practices to growers,” Darren says. “And their standards are pretty stringent. Blue Diamond has done a good job letting us know what we can do to enhance the quality of the almond.”
One of the things that Darren doesn’t take for granted is keeping a clean orchard. In the winter, for example, he removes and destroys old nuts--nicknamed “mummies”--that remain on the trees after harvest and provide homes for nut-eating worms.
“Sanitation is a big deal with me—that’s why I get the high quality,” Darren says.