Keith Walden, the son of a banker and a farmer in Santa Paula, CA.
At an early age he was expected to help in the family farm where he learned the business and experienced the highs and lows of the industry. It all helped him to develop the character and discipline needed to succeed.
The ever-changing conditions of the world, the markets, the elements in nature, and his curious entrepreneurial spirit made Farmers Investment Co what we are today; one of the largest pecan producers in the world.
“I bought this land (Sahuarita) and Continental to grow cotton but when disease came, we were driven out of that business. I never dreamed I would be growing pecans”
Timeline Since 1915
To face a potential shortage of rubber during WWI, Bernard Baruch, Joseph Kennedy, and J.P. Morgan founded and developed the Continental Farms to grow Guayule, a well known source of rubber. The project ended at the end of the war.
Continental Farm is Sold
Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands purchased the land. At first, she rented it to cotton farmers. In 1945 she took over the operation investing in harvesting equipment that made this endeavor significantly profitable.
FICO is Established
Through the late years of school, Keith Walden was planting citrus, avocados, and a vegetable nursery in California. This endeavor was quite profitable. His interest and success after branching on his own led him to established Farmers Investment Co
After the passing of the Queen, the farm became for sale again. This happened at the same time that Keith Walden was looking to invest outside of California. With the desire and the proper investor FICO purchases the land to continue farming cotton.
The Feed Lot
FICO started a 10,000-head cattle feedlot to feed the grains and alfalfa grown as a rotation crop for cotton. The cattle also helped with grass control between the cotton rows that otherwise would have taken over the crop.
When 5,000 acres of irrigated land and 3,000 acres of pasture land adjacent to Continental Farms became for sale, FICO purchases the acreage. Within a few years it became the site of FICO’s headquarters in Sahuarita.
The development of synthetic fibers and changes in the market components, lead FICO to experiment with different crops including and ultimately choosing pecans. By 1969 FICO had more than 6,000 acres with planted pecan trees.
By this year the some of the first planted trees were producing nuts. From this year until now, FICO averages a yield of 2,200 lbs./acre. At the time, after the product was harvested, it was transported to New Mexico to be processed by Stahmanns Farms.
FICO finishes the construction of a $1.5 million processing plant. The growing production made it imperative for the company to have its own facility. This permitted to have better control of how product is stored, processing time, sales, and inventory.
For over 40 years the Pecan Store became on of the local-favorite shop. The community visit here in search of fresh and tasty pecans and other related items. The Pecan Store served as a link between the community and the operation.
The Sahuarita Pecan Festival celebrated the beginning of harvest. For 10 years this event brought business, families, entertainers, and many non-profit organization together. In 2019, the event was recognized as a one of the top community events.
Back to Farming
In response to the dynamics of the market, FICO makes the decision to end part of its operation to focus on what make sustainable sense, the farm. Pecans are currently grown, harvest, clean, and sold as “inshell” to a well-established U.S. processor.
This is Who we Are
We love to have you learn and discover the fabulous world of pecans. Because of this we from time to time we will welcome community groups.