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How the Almonds We Use Are Grown


Almond milk has an ancient history dating back centuries to the Middle East and Spain. Over the past two decades, this delicious alternative to cow’s milk has become a staple for many. But do you know what goes into growing the almonds in your almond milk?

To help us craft the highest quality products, we work with organizations who share our values — and that philosophy extends to the farmers who grow our ingredients. Pacific Foods is proud to work with Vann Brothers in supplying us with almonds for our almond milk.

The almond story is a fascinating one! We spoke to our partners at Vann Brothers to learn more about what makes almonds special. Here’s what they told us.

Meet Cameron Boomgaarden and Blake Vann

What makes Vann Brothers stand out are the people who work hard behind the scenes to produce a wholesome product. That’s where Cameron Boomgaarden and Blake Vann come in.

Cameron Boomgaarden, the orchard operations manager at Vann Brothers, is an expert in the almond growing process. He grew up with a deep love and passion for farming. Cameron graduated from Chico State with a bachelor’s in Agricultural Business.

In 2018, he went to work at Vann Brothers, starting out working on water, pollination and farm certification, and it didn’t take long for him to move up and become a vital – and very hands-on – part of the Vann Brothers leadership team.

“There’s a different challenge to tackle every day, every month, every year, constantly changing.”

For Blake Vann, farming is in his blood. Growing up watching and helping his father and uncle farm, he learned how to be an expert farmer. While farming was never his goal, he was hooked once the family farm started experimenting with almond trees.

Now, Blake oversees a thriving farm business with over 300 employees. He loves what he does and often refers to his employees as family.

“Every three months, you’re doing something different in agriculture, and I didn’t realize how much I had a passion for it until I came back and started doing it and realized that this is really what I liked doing with my time.”

The History of Vann Brothers

The Vann Brothers story spans generations. Blake’s grandfather began by leasing the farm to sheepherders. After an economic downturn brought him to the brink of losing the farm, he decided to shift to wheat.

What happened next was truly amazing. Blake’s father and uncle had so much success growing wheat that he leased neighboring farms. After many years, the Vann Brothers farm expanded to include 15 different kinds of row crops. Around the same time, they transitioned to irrigated farming. The farm continued to broaden, adding even more types of row crops as the years went by.

As a California farm, growing almonds was a no-brainer. The state produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds, making almonds a relatively stable commodity. Blake’s father and uncle planted their first almond tree in 1996, and they never looked back. Blake states, “Our main focus is on growing, processing and marketing almonds these days.”

A passionate and experienced group of people make Vann Brothers the institution it is today. It’s a group of people who take pride in providing a quality product.

The Journey of a Vann Brothers Almond From Planting to Harvest

An almond’s journey to your home is a long one. After an almond tree is planted, it takes around three years before a new tree can produce almonds for harvest.

Once the tree has matured, each year follows a similar pattern, starting with a dormant period. This occurs during the year’s colder months, usually from November to February. During this time, routine maintenance tasks like pruning are performed to help protect the trees.

During the blooming season, Vann Brothers’ beekeepers begin setting up beehives on every acre to help pollinate. The farm promotes and utilizes bee populations to help pollinate the orchard, working directly with beekeepers to ensure the health of the hives. There is also a lot of fertilization and pest monitoring during the blooming season. The almond trees are also closely monitored for pests and diseases. They partner with a pest control advisor to ensure that pesticides are used only when necessary.

This is also the time you get social media-worthy posts of beautiful almond trees in bloom!

Harvesting begins in mid to late July in a typical year. The almond trees are shaken using special equipment. When the almonds fall, they’re left on the ground for a few days to dry. Once deemed ready, the almonds are brought to a shelling facility.

Then they’re shelled and left in a stockpile for seven to ten days. The almonds are then graded and shipped off to be made into flour or paste, on their way to becoming the delicious almond milk you love.

Careful Growing Practices for High-Quality Almonds

Sustainability is at the core of everything Vann Brothers does. All of the water used in the orchard is distributed through drip irrigation. Delivering the water directly to the tree’s root reduces water use per almond, and keeps the trees healthy and strong.

“Because of how my father and uncle farmed, they’ve always been very particular and always did things a certain way. You could almost drive by our fields and kind of tell: Oh, that’s it – that’s a Vann Brothers field over there.”

Vann Brothers accomplishes this level of quality through a number of thoughtful practices, including the pollination and pest control processes mentioned above.

Vann also monitors the health of the soil, applying compost and other natural fertilizers when needed. Cameron reveals, “That’s kind of our whole job through the entire process of growing almonds from start to bloom.”

Delivering Wholesome Almonds Into the Future

There’s always a need to adapt when dealing with uncertain factors like weather. However, the mission will always remain the same for Vann Brothers.

Blake adds, “You know that’s it when your values align in providing high-quality food for people. You’re proud of the product and stand behind it.”

Supplying people worldwide with products that nourish continues to be the aim and they see an opportunity to achieve it with partners like Pacific Foods.

Bringing the Quality of Vann Brothers to Your Table 

When it comes to food, quality is a top concern. Through our partnership with Vann Brothers and other quality growers like them, we can help you stock your pantry with consciously crafted almond milk as well as other high-quality plant-based beverages. And we do it without GMOs. Explore our full selection of almond milk options today!