Rod and Don Stackhouse (brothers)
13501 Cogswell Road
Hickman, CA 95323
Markets: MPC, Del Monte and Aptos
Products: Stone fruit: peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots; dried fruit (seasonal): peaches and nectarines; Fuyu persimmons; almonds and flavored almonds.
History/Philosophy: The Stackhouse family began farming in and around Hickman — located about 10 miles east of Modesto — circa 1945 when Aaron, Rod and Don’s father who had moved to California from Arkansas as a teenager during the Depression, purchased a five-acre dairy farm with 10 cows.
According to Rod, Aaron was a fast and skilled worker and found work on other people’s farms. Aaron eventually increased the family farm’s acreage and began growing peaches. When Rod was a freshman in high school, Aaron bought a 20-acre parcel with a new house on it and sold the dairy to become a full-time peach farmer. Aaron grew about eight different varieties of cling peaches, which were sold to canneries in nearby Modesto and Turlock.
In the mid-1960s, Rod and Don — Rod is older by a year — started Stackhouse Brothers with the help of their father, now deceased. The brothers continued the family tradition of growing cannery peaches, but decided to begin growing almonds in the late 1970s. Rod cited a cannery strike in the early 1980s as the catalyst for Stackhouse Brothers selling at farmers markets for the first time. He first took their cling peaches to a farmers market in Oakland before joining the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets [MBCFM] in 1983.
Shortly after beginning to sell at farmers markets, Rod realized that he should be growing other stone fruit. Stackhouse Brothers added nectarine and plum trees to their orchards, and Rod began storing almonds through the winter to bring to the markets in the spring. Rod credited a booth at the Tulare Equipment Show — now known as the World Ag Expo — for giving him the idea to begin roasting almonds for his customers at farmers markets.
While Rod handles the farming duties, Don has his own custom harvesting business in which he harvests fruits and nuts for other farms with specialized equipment.
These days, Stackhouse Brothers consists of approximately 250 acres. Plans are to shift away from cling peaches, which are grown on approximately 55 acres and still sold to canneries. Fifty acres are currently designated for the other stone fruit, which includes freestone peaches, described by Rod as being peaches that you can “pop open.” The rest of the orchards are for growing almonds.
Rod described Stackhouse Brothers’ growing practices as being neither completely organic nor completely conventional. The farm uses chicken manure and handles pest management with pheromones, bacteria and oil.