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Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl grew up in Sutter County when his family first moved here from India in 1966. He was only 13 years old.

He began farming with his father in 1976, graduated from Yuba City High School and attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduating ...More

Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl

How this son of migrant NRI farm workers became success growing walnuts in California

NRI Sarabjit (Sarb) Johl  sees success growing walnuts in California

Yuba City, Oct. 15, 2016

Sarabjit (Sarb) Johl was only 13, when his parents from Punjab migrated to US in 1966 with no money.  In 1985, Johl family had about 600 to 700 acres of peaches and with the help of Agribusiness US American leader, he started selling peaches as part of a co-op venture. Now he supervise over a 1,000 acre walnut farm and a growers' collective that recorded exports of $20 million last year. The operation became the Sacramento Growers Cooperative.


Set Up Sacramento Growers Cooperative  and transition same cooperative business model for  Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers

Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl said:
·        I knew once we got the concept out, it would work. A few years later, people came over to our cooperative.
·        The business model wasn't good for many growers who had to harvest their peaches on a piece-meal basis.
·        Our collective tonnage 45,000, the Sacramento Growers Cooperative had a substantial slice of the peach market against Tri Valley Growers' tonnage of about 250,000.
·        Sarb Johl made the transition to walnut growing and applied the same cooperative business model to that operation. His goal was to find like-minded growers and build a facility to fit their needs
·        Now we  have 12 growers in near about counties that are part of what became Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers and working on to develop a larger cold-storage facility to sell later on in-shell product or processed as a kernel

Sarb Johl named Agriculturalist of “2016 Agriculturalist of the Year” Award by the California State Fair.

 Sarbjit “Sarb” Johl, 64, who lives in District 10 in north Yuba County, received the “2016 Agriculturalist of the Year” Award at the California State Fair’s Gala, which took place July 8-July 24, 2016. It recognizes the accomplishments and service of key individuals or organizations through a series of prestigious awards. 

  • For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the best of the Golden State. Cal Expo was dedicated as a place to celebrate California’s achievements, industries, agriculture, diversity of its people, traditions and trends that shape the Golden State’s future.

Sarbjit said:
·        Almost 40 years ago, when I started farming with my dad, I had no idea where that would lead me. My life revolves around farming and protecting agriculture.
·        This award means so much to me, what matters most is that like my father, I have been able to lay the groundwork for my children and, hopefully, for my grandchildren.
·        It's one of those things that you don't expect, and that makes it more rewarding to be recognized by your peers and those in the ag industry
·        It’s been an honor to work with so many committed peach and walnut growers and processors, researchers and innovators, and to volunteer my time for organizations that are making a difference for our industry

The Indian connect to California walnuts

Sacramento (California), Oct 9, 2016:  Walnut farmer Sarabjit (Sarb) Johl was 13 when he migrated with his parents to the US in the early 1960s. Today, he presides over a 1,000 acre farm and a growers' collective that recorded exports of $20 million last year. The icing on the cake, as it were, came earlier this year when he was named Agriculturist of the Year by the California State Fair.

"My father came here with very little money in 1963 and he worked in the farms enough to buy himself a piece of land -- and we haven't stopped pretty much since then," Johl, who founded Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers LLC collective in 2006, told IANS.

The farm is located in Marysville, Yuba County, in the quaint countryside where the sky is blue and the land stretches for thousands of acres. The trees that are harvested are usually not more than seven years old.

"The trees from which we harvest, we make sure they are of the same height so that they receive the same amount of sunshine so that the produce is the same," Johl explained.

The trees remain completely dormant in the winter and the fruit starts growing during March-April, giving it plenty of time before the early October harvest season.

"Sacramento Valley Walnut Growers export not only across the US but also globally, including India, Japan, China, Australia, South Korea and Turkey," he said.

The company exported about 4,500 tonnes of walnuts last year.

The harvesting is done by machines that shake the trees, sweeps the fallen nuts and collects them for cleaning, after which they directly go into a modern processing facility which is the final step in a walnut's journey from the orchard to the table -- "Farm to Fork", as the growers put it.

The facility processes about 20 million walnuts at a time and also takes care of packaging and distribution.

Not only does the walnut taste great, it is a healthy nut that helps in fighting a number of diseases.

"As our research evolved, we learnt that walnuts are very helpful in decreasing diabetes, cancer and heart diseases and also in weight management," Carol Sloan, a dietician with California Walnut Commission (CWC), told IANS.

"Walnuts contain the Omega 3 fatty acids which our bodies don't produce on their own and making these nuts a part of our daily meals is a very healthy idea."

Men should consume at least 45 grams and women about 31 grams which will also contribute to the healthy eating index.

"Don't get bored by consuming these nuts the same way. Walnuts are very soft and easy to blend, so one can add them to smoothies, or on top of salads, instead of the bread croutons, and also just munch them as a snack," Sloan noted.

The CWC and California Walnut Board represents over 4,000 growers and more than 100 handlers who process, package and market walnuts across the state. The Board was established in 1948 to promote the consumption of walnuts across the US. It also provides funding for walnut production and post-harvest research.

The CWC was launched in 1987 and is funded by the growers. It is mainly involved in health research and export market development……
by Karishma Saurabh Kalita/IANS