Walnut Gathering in the Ozarks

Walnut Gathering in the Ozarks

Larry and Jackie MeltonMany types of plants grow naturally in the Ozarks and are gathered for various purposes, including nutritional and medicinal reasons. Black walnuts are gathered each fall in the Ozarks, with the hull, the shell, and the nutmeat having various human uses. More black walnuts are collected in the Ozarks than any other region in the U.S. Hulling stations pop up each fall at various locations in the Ozarks to collect and begin processing this harvest, almost always foraged by ordinary citizens. 

The Missouri State University Libraries has a longstanding and ongoing oral history recording program. Various areas of focus have developed over the years, such as Blacks on Route 66 in the Ozarks, Agriculture in the Ozarks, Trucking in the Ozarks, a growing collection OLGA (Ozarks Lesbian and Gay Archive) interviews, and many others. 

Bags of hulled walnutsOn Thursday, October 8, 2020 Tom Peters, Dean of Library Services, conducted an oral history interview with Larry and Jackie Melton. For years they have had a hulling station on their farm north of Springfield, just south of Hickory Barren. During the course of this oral history interview, we also spoke with Brian Hammons, the President of Hammons Walnuts, headquartered in Stockton, Missouri, the largest collector and purveyor of black walnut nutmeat. The recording of that oral history interview is now available free online. 

Topics discussed include harvesting black walnuts, native to the Ozarks; processing of walnuts by Hammons Back Walnuts; hulling process; by-products and markets of walnuts; geographical range and distribution of walnuts; delivering walnuts to hulling stations; growing and harvesting conditions; nutritional value of black walnuts; profile of Hammons Black Walnuts company; cultivation of hybrid trees; 2020 season crop; pricing; yearly crop fluctuation; pollination of black walnuts; food production; walnut collector tools

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