Holmquist Hazelnuts

Sales Associate Wendy Johnson, top photo, tends to the Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards stand at the Bellingham Farmers market. A Lynden business, A variety of Holmquist Hazelnuts are available across Whatcom County in stores and at farmers markets and are also available online. (Bill Helm/Lynden Tribune)

Holmquist Hazelnuts in Lynden area nearly 100 years

LYNDEN — The story of Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards goes back more than a century when John Victor Holmquist emigrated from Finland to Washington.

In Mt. Vernon, Holmquist helped his father clear wilderness area for farming in 1905. By 1909, Holmquist settled on his own land, at Judson Lake near Lynden.

However, it wasn’t until the 1920s when the young Holmquist planted his first hazelnut orchard.

By the 1970s, Holmquist’s grandson planted additional hazelnut orchards.

Today, Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards grows, distributes and sells many varieties, flavors and sizes of hazelnuts. Sold across Whatcom County, the hazelnuts are still grown in Lynden (rural Whatcom County with a Lynden zip code) and can be found in various farmers markets in northwest Washington.

According to Richard Holmquist, the company’s director of finance, marketing and purchasing, Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards harvests each year between 50-2,800 pounds per acre “depending on the variety, density and age of the hazelnut trees.”

In 2020, Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards employed 32 people, some of which were seasonal help, Holmquist said. That’s an average of about a dozen people every month.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic was also rough on Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards. Holmquist explained that the pandemic had a large impact on direct sales at farmers markets and to restaurants and other businesses “that could no longer operate as normal.”

“When social distancing and masking restrictions relaxed for farmers markets, it eventually helped return things to mostly normal levels at those locations,” he said. “However, the restrictions placed on restaurants and other walk-in businesses is still causing an impact on our business.”

Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards offers dry roasted, salted, seasoned and natural/raw hazelnuts, as well as candied, chocolate covered, chopped and sliced, nut oils and nut flour.

“Besides our customers longtime favorite of our heirloom dry roasted DuChilly hazelnut (sold-out until next year because of limited availability), the next most popular by far is our dry roasted Jefferson hazelnuts and rounded out next by sea salted hazelnuts, butter toffee covered hazelnuts and orange honey hazelnuts,” Holmquist said. 

Holmquist is also working on a Hazelnut protein powder mix, possibly with dark chocolate.

“Think of using it along the lines of protein shakes, bars, smoothies and cereals,” he said. “Hopefully if everything goes right that will be available later in the coming year or so.”

Visit holmquisthazelnuts.com for more.