Three new ways to put peach waste to work

Three new ways to put peach waste to work

We’re always looking for ways to improve our operations. And when we do, our compost windrows and our trees are the biggest winners.  

Case in point: Our new dried peach processing system. 
Recently, Farmer Al added a peach-peeling line that separates the peels from the flesh and the pits the from the fruit. As a result, he discovered three new waste streams that will ultimately benefit the soil and our trees. Those waste streams are:

  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Peels
  • Pits

First, some context. 

Peaches are the only fruit we peel before we dry them. That’s because dried peach skins are dry, crunchy and unpleasant, thanks to all the fuzz. 
We’ve always used the waste from our dried peach operation to feed our compost. We’ve hauled tons and tons of peels and pits to the compost windrows each year. But it was a big mess – everything went in together. Peach pits break down more slowly than peels do, and they don’t do the trees much good in their solid state. 

Potassium water and peels

Our new peach-peeling line uses potassium hydroxide to soften the peach peels so the line scrubber can remove them. The result is water that contains potassium, which we will use to water our trees. Potassium, also called potash, is a valuable soil amendment. Potash helps trees distribute water through its root systems. It also helps trees form their fruit, and it contributes to fruit sugar, color, and size.
Best of all, our new peach-peeling line separates the pits from the peels. This is very helpful because the peels break down quickly, creating a home for billions of microscopic organisms that feed the soil. 

Pits and biochar

Last year, Farmer Al and Farm Operations Manager Rachel Sullivan attended a seminar on sustainability at UC Davis. They attended a session about biochar and invited the professor who presented to visit the farm and see if there was an opportunity to use biochar here. 

So, what is biochar?

Biochar is charred biomass. To create biochar we use a burning system that does not release carbon, or Co2, into the air. You can create biochar from woody material, like tree branches. Once the woody material has been transformed into biochar, farm crews can use it as a soil amendment and fertilizer. 

Frog Hollow Farm tree teams prune tons of branches each year, and our dried fruit operation results in thousands and thousands of peach pits. Farmer Al had an idea. Now that the peach pits will be separated from the peels and other fruit residues, why not turn them into biochar? Our trees need carbon! They use it to build wood and produce fruit. 

Biochar will be something new for us. We’re working on getting the operation set up and we’ll let you know how it goes!

Making waste work

These new waste streams are examples of how we put waste work to regenerate our soil. We learn about these new systems through constant learning and exploration. There is nothing static about farming. We’re diligent about learning from our peers and others in our industry so we can produce the best fruit possible while caring for our land. 
We’ll keep you posted on our progress. 
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