Pecans from Drew Kimmell’s groves blossom, ripen and fall to the earth in a place where motions are gentle and timeless. Here trees bend to breezes and history, shadows circle stately trunks, while sun-frosted branches sketch patterns of shade on the cool grass.
It’s a place of purity and reflection, a cathedral of nature. “It’s very peaceful, especially when you think about those 200- to 300-year-old trees,” says Drew. “They’ve lived through the Revolution, the Depression, all of the history and they’re still standing, doing their thing. It gives you a sense of well-being.”
The majesty of these grand pecan groves is captured in One Degree’s newest film, premiering now on YouTube and our Web site. Drew’s sweet pecans may be the star of the feature, but a cast of acquisitive squirrels is vying for best supporting actor. “In a native grove the trees are wild, planted by God and the squirrels. The squirrels run around in the harvest season and dig holes and put nuts in them but they don’t always remember where they put ’em. So every year you’ve got more pecan trees coming up.”
Squirrels don’t worry about improving the efficiency of a pecan business, so Drew’s groves have a diversity that most other producers cannot match. “Eighty-five percent of the pecans grown in this country are clones,” he explains. “They take a limb off a small tree and graft it.” The rows are orderly, but the trees are uninspired carbon copies. In cloned groves, there are no high notes, low notes or grace notes. Diversity not only adds variety to the flavor, but also helps protect a grove from disease.
Native groves are self-sustaining, too, with no need for applications of fertilizer. “If you have grafted trees, you have to use zinc, you have to add nitrogen, and do this, that and the other. A native tree grows here because it’s supposed to grow here, and it knows what it needs.”
Another benefit of trusting nature to grow her own time-tested variety is a purer, healthier pecan. “Our northern native pecan is the same as it was hundreds of years ago — the same sweet natural flavor, untouched by pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or genetic modification,” says Drew. And the shorter growing season in Missouri results in a higher concentration of monounsaturated oil. “That’s a better oil profile than olive oil.”
We invite you to spend some time in the friendly town of Nevada, Missouri, sharing in the peace of the quiet pecan groves. Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: http://bit.ly/1yKVKXc