Interview with Barb Foulke
of Freddy Guys Hazelnuts in Monmouth, OR.

Tell me about what lead you to hazelnuts. What brought you to get started?
I grew up on a farm in the MidWillamette Valley and my father and uncles have probably gown every crop that exits in the area. When this hazelnut farm came up for sale, I knew that we would have help getting it going. It was risky because it had been neglected and at the time hazelnuts were certainly not “in fashion”, but I felt with my extended families help and their 80 plus years of experience we could “pull it off” AND…. we did!

Why is your company called Freddy Guys?
Actually I am Freddy’s Guy. My husband’s real name is Fred although he has been called Fritz since he was a baby. His parents have a strong connection to Hawaii and the Hawaiians have always called him Freddy. When we were going steady and then married I have always been Freddy’s Guy. When we had children, they were called Freddy’s Little Guys. I was looking for a name when I started and Freddy’s Guys I thought was nice, but I dropped all the confusing apostrophes and just call my company Freddy Guys because that is all of us in the family.

Where are you getting your hazelnuts from and how many people work with you?
My hazelnuts are from our back yard! We grow 160 acres of hazelnuts, and I harvest, and process my own hazelnuts. I do not take in others’ crops. We live on the orchard.

How long have you been selling them?
We have owned the orchard for 15 years. I have been selling farm direct for about 7 years.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?
The Farmers Market where I can talk to my customers. I hear what they like and what they dont! I get suggestions and I pay close attention. I am a very good listener and I come home and I think about what I have been told. I have made many changes based on farmer market customer recommendations.

Name a couple of things that nobody told you about that you’ve learned since opening your business.
hmmm…. being willing to throw away an idea that doesn’t work. I have gone back to the drawing board several times 🙂 I love changing and modifying machinery, especially when I get an idea of how to make my shelling line function better. Who would ever think that I could do that? I know my machinery so well that I can have my fabricator come in and I will say to him: “I am not happy with the way the kernels come down this chute. I think it would be better to split them off and separate them right here and I want a separater placed so that, using an air column, we get a finer separation. So insert me an air column because I want to test it.” That is an example of a recent “improvement” we made (and it worked!). I would never in my dreams thought that I could manufacture something like that, and I love it.

Describe your best day in business so far.
The day my very expensive roaster arrived from Italy. It was such a risk, it was so expensive, and it took three months to get here and I was out on a limb and then it was HELL getting it off the dock in Pdx. Then suddenly we were transporting it down the I-5 freeway. It was a trail of international shipping containers and they were headed to my dock. OMG! It arrived and it was all so well packed that it was perfect and I just stood there on our shipping dock and I threw open the doors of those containers and I knew that it was going to work and be OK!

What makes Freddy Guys hazelnuts different that other hazelnuts (American or otherwise) out there?
Who knows! I think it is because we handle the hazelnuts at every stage without cutting corners. We are careful growers, we harvest at the right time, we wash and dry to exactly the right percent. We are careful with storage and we only shell and roast to order. We treat every order careful, top to bottom

Other than hazelnuts, what else are you excited about in the food world?
The global opportunities that it opens up to me. I get to travel to Italy to look at new equipment. I get to go to France and Spain to look at their ideas for the use of hazelnuts. This next February we will be going to Chile because there are hazelnut farms there and the farmers want consultation and ideas on how to sell farm direct! What better choice than myself!

How can people learn more about Freddy Guys?
I try to keep my website current but it is hard because I am so busy. We have recently added the hazelnut butter and cocoa butter ( that is a more natural “Nutella”) I also have a new “veggi dip” on the site made with just a few ingredients. I am just finalizing a recipe for a hazelnut cracker, and that will be available — hopefully as a mix to prepare at home and maybe also as a final product for sale.

My children also are frequent contributors to Freddy Guys Facebook because they are the little freddy guys. But they are busy as well and so sometimes there are gaps.
I twitter @freddyguys, but sometimes I forget! I am a busy farmer, and my own processor and mostly I hope people will email me if they have an urgent question
[email protected]

Quick reference:
facebook: freddy guys hazelnuts
twitter: @freddyguys

-Barb and Fritz Foulke
Freddy Guys Hazelnuts
We are family owned and operated.