When I visited the California home of John and Linda Beech, they were already a little overwhelmed by the number of nuts they had to chop and grind.
John and his wife, Linda, had a small, five-acre beech farm in California’s San Luis Obispo Valley, which they had turned into a tourist attraction with its beech trees, beech woodworking shops, and Beechnut Farms.
I found the Beechnuts in a nearby backyard, where the couple was preparing a beech nut for their next trip to California.
“We have a lot of nuts that we have to grind,” Linda Bech told me.
“But we’ve been using it for decades.
We’re not even sure why.
I don’t think it’s been used for a very long time.”
The Beechs have grown up in a world of food and, in recent years, they’ve learned to enjoy eating them.
“I’ve seen a lot more beechnut trees growing around the world over the last two or three years,” John Beech told me with a smile.
“It’s kind of cool.
It’s a fun thing to have.”
I met John and he also told me about his own history with beech.
He had always liked the nut.
“When I was a kid, I had a whole family of beech,” he said.
“One of my cousins was a big nut guy and he made a lot, too.
He used to bring a bunch back from the fields to sell in the stores.”
And that was how John and other Beech Nut owners learned to grow their own nuts.
“People used to go down to the fields and they’d buy nuts,” John explained.
“And they’d make a couple of hundred dollars on it.
I mean, it was a lot.”
John and a few other Bech Nut owners in the San Luis Valley have since become well-known for producing their own nut varieties and making them into “nut nuts.”
And now, they’re also a major force in California, where almonds and pistachios have been an industry for decades, but almond nuts are now in decline due to a combination of the use of pesticides and climate change.
In California, almonds and walnuts are used for the nut’s final processing, but Beech nuts are the main source of nuts for the entire country.
The Beeches and other nut farmers in the area are working hard to increase the production of beecocks, and they hope that by doing so they can continue to help feed a growing nation.
“The Beech nut is a very special nut, and we’re very proud of that,” Linda told me when I asked her if the industry could ever be “in trouble” because of the decline in the beech industry.
“So, we’re looking forward to continuing to do the right thing.”