Simple MillsDaily Harvest, and Cappello’s have announced The Almond Project, a multi-year, farmer-led partnership to make almond farming more sustainable by implementing and evaluating the outcome of regenerative soil health principles. The program will leverage the expertise of third-generation growers at Treehouse California Almonds to lead soil health research in California’s Central Valley that will help pave the way towards a more prosperous, resilient future for almonds.

The climate crisis poses a dire threat to almonds and the people who grow them, especially in California, which supplies 80 percent of the world's almonds. Mounting evidence suggests that soil health is key to the long-term viability of all food crops, but practical research remains sparse and the financial risk of adopting these practices often falls solely on farmers.

“If we want to abate the effects of climate change, safeguard farmer livelihoods, and continue to enjoy the nutritional benefits of almonds, we must build a more resilient food system,” said Rachel Drori, founder and CEO of Daily Harvest. “Daily Harvest looks forward to delivering on our mission to reimagine the food system through The Almond Project.”

Over the next five years, The Almond Project partners will work with growers to integrate a variety of soil health practices on two 80-acre blocks of farmland—one conventional and one organic. Simple Mills and Daily Harvest, in partnership with Treehouse California Almonds and White Buffalo Land Trust—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit practicing, promoting, and developing systems of regenerative agriculture—are supporting farmers in the adoption of regenerative principles. These practices, which include cover cropping, animal integration, composting and the reduction of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, aim to improve natural soil fertility, sequester carbon, conserve water, and increase biodiversity. 

The Almond Project partners will measure outcomes such as soil health, water infiltration, carbon sequestration, and ecosystem biodiversity in comparison to neighboring baselines. The group will share learnings with other almond farmers in the region to assist in the implementation of soil health practices on additional acreage of farmland. 

“At Simple Mills, we are committed to advancing the holistic health of people and the planet - and that starts with how we grow our food,” said Katlin Smith, founder and CEO of Simple Mills. “Almonds are a nutrient-dense powerhouse that have always been an integral part of our portfolio and we’re thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking partnership to reimagine almond farming now and for generations to come.”

Cappello’s is supporting White Buffalo Land Trust through the Savory Institute to trial the Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) protocol in the almond orchard blocks. EOV is the methodology that measures ecological outcomes on a producers’ land. If results trend positive, a verification is granted and the farm is entered into the Land to Market Verified™ Regenerative Supplier Roster. This trial will serve as a vital resource to help establish a verification program for almonds and other perennial crops. 

“We view partnering with the farmers who steward this precious land as both a privilege and an extraordinary opportunity,” said Stacey Marcellus, co-founder and co-CEO of Cappello’s. “This project is based on regenerative agricultural practices that involve time, effort, and risk for growers. The resources needed for research are something so worthy of sharing in the responsibility. We all win if we can increase life through the whole ecosystem, from soil to tree to community.” 

“California almonds are a vital part of the global food system and essential to the communities that grow them,” said Joe Gardiner, third-generation farmer and Sales Manager at Treehouse California Almonds. “With a pragmatic approach, we are humbled to connect a diverse group of stakeholders with a unified mission to preserve agricultural resources and livelihoods.'' 

In the short term, The Almond Project aims to identify climate-smart approaches to almond farming that improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and empower local farming communities. Longer-term, the program seeks to develop proof points to incentivize farmers and food companies to adopt practices that have the potential to regenerate California’s working lands, contribute to balancing our climate crisis, and enable the sustainability of farming in the Central Valley for generations to come.