McFarland, CA - The Heartbeat of Agriculture (and Blue Diamonds)

McFarland is an unassuming place-really not much more than a passing road-sign to most traveling Highway 99 in Kern County. If you happen to read the "Welcome to McFarland" sign as you drive by, it says that McFarland is "The Heartbeat of Agriculture". Located in the San Joaquin Valley, the farm workers and laborers have hit hard times with unemployment in the mostly Hispanic city at a whopping 30% according to some reports.

Yet from the looks of things, the almonds, grapes, and other crops that grow so well are breaking sales records. Clinton Shick, Chairman of the Board of Blue Diamond Almonds (the top co-op of almond growers,) grew up and lives in McFarland, even growing almonds there, himself. He met with Blue Diamond members for their annual meeting in the Fall 2010 when the group celebrated 100 years. Projections for the almond trade which is California's leading export valued at over $3 billion annual sales, show strong, continued growth into the next decade.

If you happen to be passing by McFarland on your way to Sequoia National Forest where the world's largest tree lives, locals rave about the hamburgers at the local Snow White drive-in, hand-tossed Maria's Pizza, and if you can find a market or stand, don't overlook the almonds. Once you taste the fresh picked crop in the fall, it spoils you forever. You gain a new appreciation for California's farm belt when you visit and can sample really fresh produce and nuts. READ MORE!

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