The land on which Green Valley Pecan Company began boasts a history as deep and rich as the soil that produces some of the finest pecans in the world. This expanse of fertile land in the Santa Cruz Valley, just south of Tucson, Arizona, belonged to captains of industry and crowned heads of state before being acquired by R. Keith Walden in 1948. The farm remains in the Walden family to this day.
FICO founder Keith Walden began as a cotton farmer in California. In 1948, Keith purchased the Continental Farm south of Sahuarita and began farming cotton. In the 1950s, Keith grew concerned that competition from synthetic fibers would threaten the cotton market and he transitioned his farming operation to pecans as an alternative crop. Keith chose pecans because of their compatibility with the climate of the Sonoran Desert.
With plenty of sunshine, quality water and rich, sandy loam soil, the conditions were ideal to grow pecans. In 1965, the Waldens began converting more than 7,000 acres from primarily cotton to the largest irrigated pecan orchard in the world.
As their reputation for taste and quality spread, the pecans grown in the Santa Cruz Valley became sought the world over by confectioners, bakers, supermarket suppliers and retail chains.
FICO is led by Keith's son, Dick Walden who has served as president of the company since 1983. Dick was raised on the family's farm at Continental and is a state and community leader. His wife Nan Stockholm Walden serves as the company's general counsel. Dick's children, Rich Walden and Deborah Walden Ralls both work for FICO.
Throughout this growth that now encompasses operations in three states and more than 300 employees, three generations of the Walden family have maintained the principles and standards of a family farm. This includes donating land for employee housing, a church and a new high school and elementary school. The Waldens have stayed true to their Sahuarita roots by giving back and celebrating the community that has helped them flourish.