IN 1986, SALLY HARPER DREAMED of turning her family’s newly acquired pecan orchard into an all-organic enterprise. By the early 1990s, she had trucked thousands of pounds of pecans to health-food stores throughout New Mexico and was teaching her techniques to other orchardists in the verdant pecan-growing region of the Mesilla Valley. Though Sally died in 2019, two of her children, Laura and Todd Harper, carry on the Del Valle Organic Pecans tradition, which serves customers from California to Maine. “We see the pecans from when they’re just buds all the way to when we ship them off to you,” Laura says. “They’re with us the entire time—and they taste delicious.” Southern New Mexico’s lack of humidity helps: It means the farm doesn’t have to spray the trees for fungal diseases. Also lending a hand are beneficial insects, a family of rodent-hunting Swainson’s hawks, and ground-aerating critters. Harper recommends keeping the nuts in your freezer, where they can stay fresh for up to two years. She also welcomes walks through the family’s 34 acres of mature trees. “It’s so beautiful,” she says. “I love it down here.”
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Find Del Valle Organic Pecans in New Mexico at Whole Foods, La Montañita Co-op, and Keller’s Farm Store, or purchase them online, where prices start at $65 for a five-pound box.