Name: Nate Siemens
Farm: Fat Uncle Farms
Location: 912 B Seventh Street, Wasco, CA 93280. Their certified production kitchen is in Santa Barbara.
What They Grow: Specialty almonds, including their popular blistered varietals: Original with Sea Salt, Rosemary, Cajun, Cinnalmond, Garlic, Coconut with Honey, Ginger, Honey, and their new Lemon Pepper almonds. The farm also creates a sprouted, dehydrated variety that is soaked 8-12 hours and dehydrated at a low temperature to dry (making their nutrients easier to assimilate in the body). Additional products include raw and roasted almond butter, blanched almond meal, sliced blanched almonds, sliced blistered almonds, and marzipan, which is great for baking.
Where to Buy: Farmers markets including Tuesday in downtown Santa Barbara, Thursday in Carpinteria, Friday in Montecito, Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara, and Sunday in Ojai and Goleta. Additionally, their almonds can be purchased at Isla Vista Co-op, Mesa Produce, and Metropulos. Several retailers, including Alchemy Arts Café, Backyard Bowls, Chocolate Maya, and Sugar and Salt Creamery, have even used Fat Uncle Farms almonds in their own creations.
In Season Now: Currently in harvest season, Nate Siemens is constantly updating his flavors and products, incorporating his own locally produced honey into the flavor profiles. During the spring season (April-June), green almonds could be spotted at the markets, known for their tart and herbaceous taste. In the near future, he hopes to bring almond milk and almond ice cream to the markets.
Their Story: A third-generation almond farmer, Siemens still loves farming almonds the way his grandfather did: hand-picked right off the low-hanging fruits. Both Siemens and his wife, Bekki, come from an almond-farming background, cultivating almonds in San Joaquin Valley on their lush 18-acre almond orchard. While the farm has been in existence since 1963, Siemens began selling his specialty almonds four years ago and has since expanded to more than 15 farmers markets.
“I love working the markets,” he said. “It’s really nice being connected to a community. We’ve built a friendship with both our customers and other farmers.”
When coming up with a name for the farm, Siemens left that job up to his children, who coined the name “Fat Uncle” after one of their family members.
While everyone has their favorite flavor, Siemens admits to having a sweet tooth. His favorite? “I’d have to say the ginger blistered almonds,” said Siemens. “I’m kind of addicted to ginger and its spicy but sweet flavor. They are yummy!”
Cherry Marzipan Macaroons
8 oz. Fat Uncle Farms marzipan
½ cup chopped dried cherries
12 dark chocolate drops
Preheat oven to 350. Knead cherries into marzipan. Roll into 1-inch balls, and place on parchment-lined baking pan. Press a chocolate drop onto each. Bake for 10 minutes or until the marzipan begins to turn golden.