The close knit Almond Industry is at a loss today as they mourn the passing of a legendary figure, a man who took almonds from a local curiosity to the most profitable agricultural export in California.
John Madden, co-founder of JD Almond Farms passed peacefully at age 85 yesterday.
In 1997, after success in various other fields, Madden saw the future of California farming in almonds.
In a 1999 Almond Monthly magazine cover story Madden reflected on the beginnings of his almond revolution: “I was driving by on my bus (Ed. Note – Madden was a lifelong RV enthusiast in addition to his farming exploits) and I saw these trees and said BOOM! Now that’s what I call a tree and see what it is is heh heh see what most people don’t know is that trees grow but stuff also grows on trees. So what I did was I said hey what grows on those trees and my Tree Guy, you gotta have a Tree Guy, he says that’s an Almond Tree. And I say whoa whoa heh heh BOOM! an almond tree! Now that’s something people want to eat. Almonds! BOOM!”
And thus a farming revolution was born. California’s Central Valley is now home to over 80% of the world’s almond production. All thanks to the prescient foresight of John Madden.
The almonds may still grow but they won’t taste as sweet this coming season as we all mourn the Father of Almonds. Rest In Peace Mr. Madden, may your trees grow strong and bountiful up there in the Great Almond Grove in the Sky.