Our 2019-2020 pecan nut harvest was one of the best yet, producing 8 533 kg of nuts. Unfortunately, our ancient nut cracking machine couldn’t handle the volumes and broke down after more than 25 years of service. We had to use an external supplier to crack and shell the nuts for us, leading to delays in getting the nuts to market. And by then, Covid-19 and the lockdown had kicked in and sales slumped.
All of this has forced us to look at new distribution channels, in preparation for what we hope will be another bumper year ahead.
Agriculture has been an important source of income for LITTLE EDEN over the years, helping towards our objective of self-sustainability. Our veggie gardens at Elvira Rota Village provide fresh healthy produce for both Homes and we have used the land to grow maize, soya beans and other crops.
Sadly, last year’s crops were not as profitable as usual, owing to a combination of factors and challenges. We are currently evaluating each crop and phasing out the less successful (e.g. maize) in favour of expanding the pecan nut orchards.
Just over 400 new pecan trees were planted in 2019, with another 180 planned for later this year, giving a total of 800 trees! It’s a leap of faith into the future, as the new trees will only yield nuts after 7 years.
In the mid 1980’s we identified pecan nuts as a suitable crop for the land at Elvira Rota Village, as well as being something the residents could be involved with. Residents with limited hand movement could participate in the planting, harvesting and shelling of nuts without damaging them – and benefit from the sense of purpose and achievement that comes from work.
Today the profile of our residents has changed. Many are in wheelchairs, with limited or no control of their hands, and unfortunately most cannot participate actively in the farming activities. Nevertheless, the pecan nut orchards add great value to our residents’ lives. They love sitting under the trees in summer, enjoying outdoor music sessions, listening to the birds and watching them build their nests high in the branches. We are able to see the positive impact of being in this tranquil environment.