Family Matters: How Research and Hard Work Brought this Family Farm into the 21st Century
Almond Board of California is celebrating its community by running occasional features on farmers, processors, and others who support the industry, highlighting their commitment to sustainability.1
It was 1919 when Matt Visser’s great-grandfather purchased the property where Visser Family Farms sits today and 1963 when his grandfather planted the farm’s first almond orchards.
Since then, the Vissers have learned a lot about farming through both experience and research. Matt cites his access to many years of the Almond Board of California’s production research results as the most significant way he’s learned best sustainable practices that will help keep his farm going for future generations.
Matt and his brother Patrick replaced their orchards with new almond trees block by block from 2000 to 2008, making their planting decisions with the help of research results on which almond tree varieties are best for different conditions, what kind of spacing is ideal and other considerations. After redeveloping the orchards and following the irrigation and fertility best practices their yields have nearly tripled, and their best-producing blocks of almond trees have had consistently high yields in seven out of eight years.
Matt currently serves on both the Almond Board’s Production Research Committee as well as its Industry Services Committee. “Being a member of the Production Research Committee has given me a preview of research that can help me improve and refine our orchard practices,” he says. “I’ve implemented a lot of the research results, particularly from multi-year studies on the best ways to manage nutrition and water for the trees.”
Matt’s land is within the bounds of a highly efficient pilot project for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District — a pressurized irrigation water-supply system that’s an industry model for water efficiency. It provides farmers with individualized, automated irrigation access through the use of online and mobile tech, as detailed in this article from the Sacramento Business Journal.
“This has been a family farm since 1919. I love the heritage and the history, and I want to pass that along to my four kids,” Matt says. “Participating in Almond Board activities has helped me to refine sustainable growing practices that will carry this heritage into the future.”
1California Almond Sustainability Program definition: Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.