The Del Valle Pecan Story
In the beginning…
In 1986, Wilmer and Sally Harper bought a young pecan farm in the Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico. Both Sally and Wilmer were raised on farms and hoped their three children Laura, Brooke and Todd could grow up with some of the same experiences Wilmer and Sally had in their youth. In the early years, the family worked the farm with one old tractor and a lot of manual labor. As they became more proficient, they found that chemical fertilizers and pesticides were not necessary to produce a good pecan crop. They also came to understand that these practices contributed to groundwater pollution, air pollution, and degraded the soil. Most importantly, Wilmer and Sally could not abide the idea of spraying pesticides on their home and children, as the family home is located in the middle of the orchard. These factors led to the decision to transition the orchard to organic. In 1994, the orchard was certified organic, one of only two such pecan orchards in New Mexico at the time.
As demand for organic pecans outpaced what the original family orchard produced, Sally began working with other like-minded pecan growers in the valley to encourage them to transition their pecan orchards to organic. Over the years, Sally mentored these farmers through the organic certification process and has worked with them to utilize the best farm management practices. Because Sally built up many loyal customers who value top-quality pecans, these small orchards sell their pecans to her for distribution under the Del Valle Pecans brand. Our family continues to works closely with these farmers to ensure that their certified organic pecans meet Del Valle’s high standards.
For Sally’s mentoring efforts, she was awarded the 2008 Organic Farmer of the Year. The farm regularly hosts educational tours and programs to help educate other farmers, researchers and consumers on the benefits of organic farming.
The family farm is now into its second generation as the Harper children have assumed responsibility for the daily farm and business operations