From Orchard to Table: A Journey Through the World of California Walnuts with the Bertagna Family Farm

Posted on : May 17th, 2024

Harvesting Walnuts

Harvesting Walnuts

As National Walnut Day approaches, we embark on a journey to explore walnut farming, deeply rooted in family traditions and sustainable practices. Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of walnuts, from their life cycle to their unique benefits, sourced from the local Bertagna family farm right here in Chico, California.

From Orchard to Table: The Journey of California Walnuts

Hull Split of Walnuts

The journey of a walnut from tree to table is a natural progression, unfolding gracefully through the changing seasons. In spring, the walnut orchard awakens with a bunch of delicate blooms, painting the landscape in hues of green and white. These blossoms, a promise of abundance, give way to the formation of green walnuts, each one an ode to the cycle of life and growth nurtured by the sun’s warm embrace. Over months of diligent care under the watchful eyes of dedicated farmers like the Bertagna’s, this is just the beginning, marking a time of anticipation and abundance in the orchards across California. As summer fades into fall, the orchards Bussel with activity as the time for harvest approaches. With practiced hands, farmers gently shake the trees or opt for meticulous hand harvesting to gather the ripe walnuts from the branches. The fallen walnuts are then collected and transported to processing facilities, where they undergo a series of meticulous steps to ensure their quality and flavor. From hulling to drying, each stage of the process is executed with precision, honoring the age-old bond between farmers and the land. Through this timeless ritual, California’s farmers uphold the legacy of excellence that has made the state a premier producer of high-quality walnuts, cherished by consumers around the world. Just like the Bertagna Organic Walnuts that you find at Maisie Jane’s.

Sourcing Quality Walnuts from the Bertagna Family Farm.

Jimmy Bertagna

Jimmy Bertagna

At Maisie Jane’s, we take immense pride in sourcing our walnuts from the Bertagna family farm, a cherished member of our extended family. Owned and operated by Nick and Jimmy Bertagna, the farm embodies the values of tradition, integrity, and sustainability that we hold dear to our hearts here at Maisie Janes. With roots deeply intertwined with our own, the Bertagna’s bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their craft, ensuring that each walnut harvested is of the highest quality and flavor. We took the time to ask Jimmy Bertagna questions!

Question: What are some of the advantages and challenges you face as a family-owned farm in the walnut industry, especially in comparison to larger commercial operations?

Answer: One of the main challenges, family owned, and operated. Farmers are the economy, and marketplace visibility. With so many commercial farmers in the market it’s hard for small farms like ours to be seen. This economy poses so many challenges to family own farmers, with commercial farmers. They are able to buy things in bulk. Unlike family-owned farms who have to buy things on smaller scale, and it makes it a lot pricier. There are also so many advantages, but one is being surrounded by knowledgeable family, farmers.

Question: How do you educate the customers about health, benefits, and nutritional value of walnuts?

Answer: One thing we are doing is tastings, it’s not easy to get fresh walnuts, you often don’t know how long they’ve been on the shelf or when they were harvested, or even where they come from. Doing tastings, while time-consuming, allows us to educate our customers not only about their nutritional value, but how they are harvested, where they’re harvested, how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf, and how we treat and take care of our land.

Question: Could you share the moment or experience when you realize you wanted to be a walnut farmer?

Answer: Well, that’s a bit of an accumulation. I left town for about a decade worked a bunch of different jobs, but never felt fulfilled the way I do being a walnut farmer. I was living down south, and I realized how much I started missing the land. It took me almost 10 years to get back here and realize what I wanted to do the whole time was farm. One thing that really made me realize it was the generational land and its beauty, I am forever appreciative of it.

Question: Is there anything else you want to add?

Answer: I would just like to add how neat it is to be able to work alongside my dad. It’s also so amazing that I can work beside my family and their different farming operations and still be able to get along and have fun together!


Red Walnuts: A Nutritional Powerhouse with a Twist

Jimmy with his daughter Brin, Planting Walnut Trees

Among the many varieties cultivated by the Bertagna’s, Red Livermore Walnuts stand out for their striking appearance and exceptional taste. Named for their natural red hue, these walnuts are a sight to behold, reminiscent of precious jewels nestled within their protective shells. What makes Red Livermore Walnuts truly special is their unique nutritional profile. Unlike traditional walnuts, which may contain higher levels of tannins, Red Walnuts are prized for their lower tannin content, resulting in a milder, sweeter flavor profile. But what exactly are tannins? Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in various plant foods, known for their astringent properties. By selecting walnuts with lower tannin levels, the Bertagna’s have crafted a walnut variety that delights the palate without overwhelming it—a testament to their dedication to quality and innovation. While Jimmy was off at college Nick Bertagna was working with UC Davis on this red walnut tree. When Jimmy came home the red walnut tree had already been in the ground. Little did he know it would be such a prized nut to grow!

Exploring Walnut’s Versatility in Culinary Creations

From savory salads to decadent desserts, walnuts are a culinary powerhouse, lending their rich flavor and satisfying crunch to a myriad of dishes. In salads, a handful of walnuts transforms a simple mix of greens into a gourmet delight, adding depth and texture that mesmerize the taste buds. Pair them with Maisie Jane’s Salad Dressing kit for a harmonious blend of flavors that elevates any salad to new heights. In desserts, walnuts are a baker’s best friend, infusing cookies, brownies, and cakes with a delightful nuttiness that enhances every bite. Whether baked into pastries, or folded into muffins, walnuts add a touch of indulgence that turns ordinary treats into extraordinary delights. Let’s not forget the timeless combination of walnuts and ice cream—a match made in culinary heaven that never fails to delight. Whether enjoyed as a topping or churned into creamy walnut ice cream, walnuts add a delightful crunch and nutty flavor that perfectly complements the cool, creamy sweetness of ice cream.


Celebrating Family Farming and the Timeless Legacy of California Walnuts

Jimmy With Oldest Daughter, Olivia, Checking on His Walnut Trees.

As we celebrate National Walnut Day, we honor the legacy of family farming and the tireless efforts of farmers like the Bertagna’s who work tirelessly to bring nature’s bounty to our tables. From blossom to harvest, each walnut tells a story of tradition, resilience, and unwavering commitment to quality. So, as you enjoy a handful of walnuts or savor them in your favorite dish, take a moment to appreciate the journey behind each nut and the indelible mark of family farming that enriches our lives in more ways than one. Here’s to the Bertagna’s, to Maisie Jane’s, and to the timeless allure of the walnut—a true symbol of abundance, nourishment, and the enduring spirit of family.


Yours Truly,

Maisie Jane and her Nutty Team.