Three years ago (2012), the trees produced very little fruit but they were excellent quality.
That winter, due to the inaccessibility of the area, the soil was dug over with a traditional plough using mule power and the help of our two-legged friends.
The following winter the trees were carefully pruned and all old and dry growth removed to provide a healthy enviroment for the year's new growth.
This summer when the almonds "smile" ie. the velvety fruit has started to dry out and splits open to reveal the nut within indicating it is time to harvest. The fruit is cleaned and the nut collected.
After being left for few days in the sun, or shade, depending on the weather at that time we begin cracking open the shell to get at the nut.
Because of the general lack of water and frequent droughts on the island of Kea in recent years, it usually takes at least 4 to 5 kilos of the fruits to yield a kilo of almonds.
It is unusual to have such a labour intensive process for a natural product but we definitely believe it is worth it!
Protein, in a form easily used by our body (muscle builder, hair, nails).
Fibre (ensure the health of the heart and gastrointestinal system), phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium (maintaining good bone health), an excellent source of zinc and vitamin E (an antioxidant that helps in reducing the rate of cell aging).
Phytochemicals, which seem to have a protective effect against heart disease, cancer and chronic diseases.
Monounsaturated fats help to lower cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol levels in healthy blood - and contribute to the overall reduction of cholesterol levels.
It is also well established that eating fibre forms an important part of a healthy diet (and amongst other things) gives a lasting feeling of fullness and thus helps control appetite and food intake, while regular consumption can help combat viral infections, such as colds and flu (this helps the chemicals found in the cortex and strengthen the immune system against pathogens).
Almonds produced on our property in Kea - Kea is the link with the past of the estate, and today, in maintaining some of the rural traditions of the island.
Unfortunately this year the prolonged drought resulted in the loss of a large amount of the production (for 2014) and strong southerly winds broke many of the trees when they were heavy with fruit.
These climatic conditions occurred all over Kea and will likely impact this year's price of almonds.
In the past however, the high selling price of almonds has had a positive affect for the locals, resulting in more almond trees planted in other areas of the island and renewed interest in the production of almonds.