Hello, everyone! I’m so pleased to take today’s post in a little bit of a different direction by featuring an interview with a friend of mine.
A couple months ago, we began a partnership with Almond Breeze. (Have you seen our frozen lemon meringue bar, walnut zucchini loaf, or end-of-summer tomato soup recipes yet?) As I connected the dots, I realized my friend Alexandria Smith lives on an almond orchard that’s a part of the Blue Diamond collective! Once I figured that out, I knew I needed to interview her for a post. I find it so interesting to really go behind the scenes and learn about how a company like Almond Breeze works. Especially when it has to with connecting with amazing local farmers and talented friends!
You might also remember Alex from when she came up to Fort Langley and photographed our family. See the stunning photos in this blog post! See more of her stunning work by following her @lovedaphnemae on Instagram or taking a look at her website!
Alright, here we go! Cue the ever-so-gorgeous Smith family from Central California:
I’m wife to an almond farmer, Matt, and momma to three little ones: Daphne (6), Sullivan (3.5), and Marigold (4 mos). We live in California’s Central Valley on a little farm that consists of 7 chickens, 2 horses, a dog, and cat, and a huge organic garden, all of which are nestled next to an almond orchard. I’m also a film photographer and homeschooler. I love spending my days teaching and learning alongside my babies, preserving our own life through my lens and my words, as well as documenting the stories of others through film photography. It all seems to go hand in hand in this really beautiful connected way and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
Your husband is an almond farmer and you live on an almond orchard. What’s that like?
It’s honestly just the hugest blessing! My dad has farmed almonds for forty years, so this way of life makes sense to me; it feels right for our family. Every day we walk the orchard, scouring the trees for nuts, birds, moss, anything we can use to learn more about the earth. The cool shade and damp grass beneath the canopy of branches are always a welcomed retreat from the summer heat, and the springtime blossoms create the most beautiful scene!
There is always work to be done for Matt, but he is usually nearby. So, more often than not, we can walk through the orchard and visit him as he works on tractors or irrigates the trees. The two older kids will go with him to work some days, which of course serves as the highlight of their day.
How did he get into almond farming? What does it take to grow almonds?
My dad has been an almond farmer my whole life, but in the recent past, he wanted to devote more of his time to his cattle ranch. Enter my husband! He was working as an excavation contractor on oil pipeline far from home and would be gone for a week at a time. We knew if we were going to have our second baby, we wanted him working closer to home. Farming was always something that he held great interest in. Everything fell into place beautifully as it tends to do when it’s meant to happen that way.
Growing almonds takes diligence, hard work, and keen observation. My husband is constantly in the orchards checking the trees, determining what they need and how/when to provide that to them. He works so hard, and the abundant healthy crops reflect that!
How is your farm connected to Almond Breeze and Blue Diamond?
My dad joined the Blue Diamond co-op in 1980 as the almond industry began to take off in Central California. He said it was a safe place for growers since they were a co-op run by the growers themselves, and that still remains true today. The almonds grown in the orchards around our home are used exclusively for Blue Diamond products such as Almond Breeze!
We love your photography. Do you ever take advantage of the almond orchard as a setting for your photos?
Oh absolutely! I feel so grateful to be able to just walk outside our home and photograph clients here on our property. In the summer, when the valley is dry, the orchard beside our home stays nice and green, which is a welcome backdrop! And my favorite time of year is late February when the trees are covered in pale pink blossoms. It looks as if snow has covered the ground and the air smells like honey. It’s just incredible.
What’s your favourite part of living on your orchard? Any drawbacks?
I think my favorite part is watching my little ones’ childhood unfold in front of my eyes here. I can see the memories of them racing through the orchards, climbing trees, evening walks to gather eggs from the chicken coop. It’s slow and simple but so overwhelmingly precious. I can breathe out here. I can feel each moment and live this sweet season fully and intentionally with my husband and our babies.
Photography by Daphne Mae Photography and Anna Lord Studio.