Approximately 4,000 California walnut growers produce over 600,000 short tons of walnuts annually.  Right here in El Dorado County, 205 walnut trees on 10 acres at Perry Creek Walnut Farm are budding out that delicious fruit at a steady pace.  A rainy season promises a bumper crop of organic English walnuts for the farm in Somerset, say proprietors Betty Allen and Bob DaCosta.


sign Betty Allen moved from New York to Somerset in 2010 and never looked back. Although she advertises on a regular basis with her New York business network, Betty also sells to locals and internet customers.   Betty and Bob do all the harvesting, drying, shelling, packing and shipping the old fashioned way—by hand. The walnuts are harvested in October   Whole and shelled walnuts are available in all sizes from 1 to 10 pounds, plus shipping. Twenty pounds in the shell brings you an additional two free pounds.


Well known in the community, Perry Creek FLAV-R-ROASTED Fancy Mixed Nuts and sugar and spice and candied walnut packages are available at the farm stand out front. You will also find homemade items such as 3-Berry Jam, Apple Butter, Organic Pasta Sauce, farm fresh organic eggs and vegetables in season . Community involvement includes fostering animals, Pioneer Firefighters Association and Farm Bureau as well as El Dorado County Farm Trails Association.nutmachinebettys-farm-stand


*In 2011, Walnuts were certified by the American Heart Association as a heart healthy food. Researchers include walnuts in superfood lists to help you

Initial findings from the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study presented at Experimental Biology 2016 (EB) indicate that daily walnut consumption positively impacts blood cholesterol levels without adverse effects on body weight among older adults.1 The WAHA study is a dual site two-year clinical trial conducted by researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University and is aimed at determining the effect of walnuts on age-related health issues.

A USDA Ag Research Service study results show that daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of walnuts significantly affects the bacteria in the human gut in a way that is favorable to decreasing inflammation and cholesterol, which are two known indicators of heart health.

Researchers from the University of Georgia have found walnuts to be a great option for getting more polyunsaturated fat into the diet, with 13 grams per ounce.

Walnuts are unique among nuts in that they are primarily composed of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams per ounce), which includes alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. They are the only nut to contain a significant amount of ALA with 2.5 grams per one ounce serving.


90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin. The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is in the form of gamma-tocopherol, found to provide significant heart health protection.

94.5% of U.S. adults consume no tree nuts whatsoever. Researchers find that nut eaters take in 5 grams more fiber, 260 mg. more potassium, 73 more mg. of calcium, 95 more mg. of magnesium, 3.7 mg. more E and 157 mg. less sodium.

California produces 90% of the 38% of all walnuts grown in the U.S.

Quinone juglone, a rare and valuable antioxidant/anti inflammatory in walnuts, is found in virtually no other commonly-eaten foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=278&utm_source=daily_click&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_email

Most walnut trees are grown on black walnut rootstock these days, so it is interesting that a particular toxin called “juglone” from the roots, buds, leaves and nut hulls seeps into the soil and may turn susceptible plants nearby yellow or cause them to wilt and die. It is important to keep the highest concentration of the toxin that exists around the canopy of the tree raked clear.
Field crops like alfalfa, crimson clover and tobacco are especially sensitive to black walnut tree toxicity as are vegetables like asparagus, cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato, rhubarb and tomato. Susceptible fruits are apple, blackberry blueberry, and pear.

Purdue University has informal lists of plants that tolerate juglone and those that are sensitive to it, and planting, according to the University of Wisconsin, can be up to 50’-80’ from the trunk. Naturally you need to consider the sun and shade requirements of the plants, as well. For more information: The go-to book for anyone growing nut and fruit trees in California is the UC Davis publication, The Home Orchard.


A Story That Needs To Be Told


The year was 1947. The place is Pasadena, California. The people gathered around the bridge table are regulars. The topic is a regular complaint about the lousy weather, and the city congestion. It was, as L. G. “Frank” Beals put it at the time, “making him sick.” Frank was is one of the gang with a regular itch for country life and hopeful for a resolution to his “citified” complaints.tractorloadorchardbest

Somehow the talkin’ got round to a piece of property in Placerville that was just not to be left alone. A couple of brothers in Placervile that were related to a woman at the table ended up helping Frank locate the place. Before you knew it, Frank had transported his wife Louise out from a comfortable suburban Southern California environment, with its green lawns, white picket fences, and all the comforts of home into an 85-acre pear ranch complete with no hot water, a wood stove, an outhouse, and chickens running in and out. In addition, the property had been blessed with what seemed a ton of ash from the old Maidu Indian burial ground it once was.

black-fryer-plumsEight years later, Frank bought a separate property on Green Valley Road with a 10,000-square foot chicken coop. “Dad loved chickens,” Greg Beals says of his dad, Frank. “I was 13 years old at the time, and I remember crying and begging dad not to sell the propery in order to get the chicken farm. But he had to.”

Greg Beals and son Mikegreg-in-storagemikecloseup

“It was really my Grandpa Francis who taught me the love of farming and a lot of other things like being respectful and such, most of which I never fully realized until I was much older,”    Greg relates. “He and I had so much fun in that barn milking cows, squirting each other so much we’d be covered with milk and laughing till our sides hurt.” Greg went on to emphasize, “If it weren’t for my Grandpa, I might hate farming, pretty much like my dad did. But with Grandpa, it was a whole different story. He loved farming, and he made it fun. It was interesting and educational. I lived in the barn with Mel, dad’s best friend and a farm hand. I learned grafting, how to butcher, crop rotation and so much more. It became my passion as well.”

Further impetus to eventually get his own farm when his dad made him work his way through college. Greg learned to save and scrimp. He earned a college business degree from Sacramento State, the first in his family to do so. Greg worked for the State of California, Cal Trans and Dept. of Food and Agriculture, eventually becoming Assistant Chief of the State’s Fairs and Expositions division.


The pear decline in 1963 did not alter the young man’s dream of farming the rest of his life and having his own orchard. In May of 1973, Greg and Linda Beals bought 53 acres on Highway 49 and planted 750 peach seedlings. Greg had his own orchard, but continued working full time, doing farmers markets on weekends, and even sometimes during the week. Everything seemed a major challenge because the ranch occupied every moment of his early mornings and evenings, hauling pipe and elbow greasing all the other chores of farm life. A butcher shop on the premises kept Linda busy helping to supply the custom meat cuts that were in demand.

He was grafting his own wood stock working on the orchard with his son Mike, enlarging his crop to include the 30 varieties of peaches, 30+ varieties of plums, 10 varieties of pluots, 20 varieties of nectarines and nectaplums, plums, pluots, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, figs, rhubarb and persimmons the farm produces today. Although farm work was his dream and fulfilled much of his life, it did not come without penalties. There was little time to spend with his wife and children, and he and Linda were divorced, forcing him to buy the ranch all over again.

Mike attended local and automotive trade schools, a natural for him since he had been fixing farm equipment most of his life. He met and married Denise in 1986 and they have two children, Brandon, 27, a Civil Engineering graduate of Chico State and Pacific Infrastructure employee, and Brooke, 22, who has one more semester at Chico State and her eye on a career in agricultural administration. Mike purchased Placerville Body and Auto Shop in 1992, and, like his father, attends to farming early mornings and evenings with farmers markets on weekends. Greg retired in 2000 and he and Mike have partnered up sharing work and expenses, and making sure that the farmers markets go on. Greg, Mike, Denise, Brooke, Brandon and additional members of the family help out.



Who picks all this glorious fruit? “Greg and I did it last year,” says Denise, “we had so much fun up in those trees, we just laughed all day. I don’t like to eat figs, but don’t get me wrong, I love picking. This year it’s Brooke’s turn.” It is truly a family affair, with 10 of the 53 acres devoted to orchard production. “We pick all week for the weekend,” Mike relates. “We have 8 farmers markets to attend to: Tuesday in Sacramento and Tahoe, Wednesday in Sacramento and Placerville, Saturday in Rancho Cordova and Placerville, and Sunday in El Dorado Hills and Sacramento.”


Future plans for Greg include retirement on his 59-acre Idaho property with nothing more to do than admire the elk congregating on his front yard on a daily basis. Besides phasing out of the automotive industry, Mike is hoping to not only add new varieties to meet market needs, but extend the growth season opportunities.


So the Beals story wraps up. Yet another one of those interviews where the heir apparent is the passion for farming, passed on from one generation to another, sometimes skipping a parent or two, but getting picked up along the line as though genetic.  Look at this happy family, I thought. How fortunate to have inherited this gift so that all of us can receive the bounty of their passion and their fabulous fruits.

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