Our Story

Five Generations. 100+ Years. Lots of Delicious Hazelnuts.​

When you buy from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards, you’re supporting a family-owned and operated farm. We’ve been a farming family for the last five generations, with more than a century of experience! That’s how we’re able to provide you with the highest quality hazelnuts. We’ve perfected the process for growing and processing hazelnuts so that you get hazelnuts that are fresh and flavorful. In fact, we often hear that people didn’t know hazelnuts could taste this good. 

We love being able to bring our hazelnuts directly from our farm to your table.

history

Holmquist Hazelnuts History

Settling in the Northwest

In 1905, John Victor Holmquist emigrated to the U.S. from Finland to help his father clear wilderness areas for farming in Mt. Vernon, WA. On Independence Day of 1909, with vision and keen foresight, John Victor Holmquist settled on his own heavily timbered acreage at Judson Lake near Lynden, Washington.

Hazelnuts had only been introduced to the region about 50-60 years earlier. Retired English sailor Sam Strickland planted the first hazelnut tree in the Pacific Northwest in Scottsburg, Oregon. It is believed that these first hazelnut trees probably came from one of the Luelling nurseries near present-day Albany, Oregon. These nurseries were started by Henderson Luelling who arrived in Oregon in 1847 and began to propagate trees shortly after. Luelling would have imported his hazelnuts from England and Austria.

Along with Luelling and Strickland, another important pioneer nurseryman in Oregon hazelnut history was Felix Gillet. A French immigrant, Gillet started out as a barber in the gold rush town of Nevada City, California. He first introduced cultivated hazelnut varieties in 1871, started the Barren Hill Nursery, and soon began selling unusual varieties of fruits and nuts up and down the West Coast. Gillet can be remembered for importing the Barcelona variety from his native France sometime between 1885 and 1905 as well as introducing the DuChilly hazelnut to the area.

The Beginning of Holmquist Hazelnuts

John V. Holmquist wanted to take advantage of the rich soil and mild weather of the Northwest. He found that hazelnut trees were an excellent crop to work with. He started in the mid to late 1920’s with hazelnuts. Originally, he chose to plant Barcelona and DuChilly hazelnuts which were two of the most popular in Washington State at the time. The latter were premium hazelnuts that were well-known over the years for their large size, distinct oblong shape, sweet flavor, unique thin skin and stubborn adhering husk that must be removed. The DuChilly is considered a relative of the Kentish Cobnut which was known to be a Victorian delicacy.

While we might never know why John V. Holmquist decided to plant hazelnuts; it’s believed that because of their new and growing popularity that selling them would be a good way to supplement the farm income and diversify. In the early 1900’s Pacific Northwest hazelnut growers had the entire country to market them with little competition. 

The fact that hazelnuts are not readily perishable also aided greatly in marketing. John might have realized the possibilities this longevity provided as the later generations of the family didn’t remove the original hazelnut orchard from the 1920’s until the year 2012. The original orchard which consisted of main varieties Barcelona, DuChilly and Nooksack was only removed because of the Eastern Filbert Blight which was causing them to become unproductive. 

Holmquist Hazelnuts History

across generations

Building the Holmquist Family Farm

Over the next few decades, John’s son Anton and grandson Gerald developed a productive farm. They raised crops of hay, oats, peas, beans and potatoes alongside their hazelnut trees. 

Decades later, Gerald and his family planted additional hazelnut orchards during the early 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Gerald and his wife Natalie also ran a dairy farm but always had a crop of hazelnuts to harvest with the help of five children. 

Tired of shipping his crop to Oregon for processing, Gerald decided to bring in the welding expertise of his uncle Don Larson to help refit used vegetable processing equipment to clean and dry his own crop. 

Our first processing building was erected in the early 1980’s to support the processing equipment. In the mid-1990’s, along with the help of his sons’ Brian and Richard, Gerald phased out the long running dairy operation and went full time into hazelnuts and it seemed appropriate for the business to carry the name Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards to reflect the three Holmquist’ families commitment to tending hazelnut orchards. 

In the late 1990’s the family invested in shelling equipment for hazelnuts which opened up new markets previously left untouched. In 2010, we installed one of the largest in-shell sizers in the industry to prepare for the expanding market.

eastern filbert blight

The much loved DuChilly Hazelnuts had their benefits, but they aren’t as hardy as other hazelnut crops. The Eastern Filbert Blight overwhelmed many DuChilly orchards, including ours, so we’ve gradually scaled back on our production of the DuChilly.

While we’ll always have fond memories of the DuChilly, we’ve started to phase it out for other newer, more robust varieties that will help us deliver the quality our customers have come to expect from Holmquist Hazelnuts. 

holmquist today

From Our Orchard to Your Table

Today, we have a product line that includes dry roasted, and roasted and salted hazelnuts, as well as a tantalizing selection of chocolate coated hazelnuts composed of Belgian dark and Belgian milk chocolate varieties! 

  • For special occasions, consider our delectable and utterly irresistible Butter Toffee Hazelnuts!
  • Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards also offers diverse selections of Gift Packs that can be custom prepared and are suitable for any personal or business occasion.
  • Our hazelnut products extend to our very popular line of hazelnut flour – which accents pastries, cookies and pancakes with a wonderful flavor and provides hearty nutrition! 
  • And then there is our hazelnut oil, which, as many of our customers already know and appreciate, is an appetizing addition to salads, marinades, and homemade mayonnaise.

 

Over 100 Years of Innovation

At Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards, over one hundred years of innovation and hard work go into the production and cultivation of our locally-grown, farm-fresh hazelnuts. 
We are glad you made it here to read our story!

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