SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — One local food processor expects to be doing even better than in years past thanks to COVID-19.
Brian Hammons, president of Hammons Black Walnuts, says he is encouraging people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to go out and pick up some black walnuts.
“Harvesting the black walnuts is something that a lot of folks do,” said Hammons. “Sometimes folks need the money, sometimes they don’t. They see the natural resource on the ground and don’t want to let it go to waste.”
Hammons says he pays people for harvesting black walnuts from their own yards.
“All over, people are out gathering these wild black walnuts that fall from trees and it’s, really, cash on the ground,” said Hammons. “A lot of people really count on the income that comes from wild black walnuts every year.”
Though people are concerned about COVID-19, Hammons says black walnut picking is one of the safer activities.
“This year, we’re looking at a bigger crop than last year,” said Hammons. “I don’t know the impacts the COVID situation will be, but this is an outdoor activity. It’s healthy outdoor air. A lot of folks get out in their yards and fields and pick up these nuts.”
Some people, including Tony Kelly, just pick up black walnuts to harvest every year as a tradition.
“We just get out together and spend time and make memories,” said Kelly. “The thing that’s priceless to me is I get to go out and clean up the backyard where my mom walks out to her patio, so I don’t have to worry so much about her, you know, falling on walnuts and getting down and that part right there is absolutely priceless to me.”
Kelly says it’s not the money that counts.
“Really, you know, it’s not about the money,” said Kelly. “It’s about time I’m getting to spend with them. I mean, yeah, the extra money does help.”
If you have black walnuts on your property, you can find out where to take them on Hammons Black Walnut’s website.