…He Says That’s Only Part of the Story.
When Jim Karpinsky hears that something can’t be done, he can hardly resist the challenge.
For example, Jim says that more than 40 years ago a variety of experts, ranging from soil scientists to the Department of Natural Resources, were skeptical about his vision for starting a walnut plantation on his 60-acre Wisconsin farm – a passion he currently pursues when not running FPS. His vision wasn’t nuts. Rather, it was wood – producing straight-grained black walnut lumber suitable for fine furnishings and delicate walnut veneers. The actual walnuts produced by these lumber-grade trees would serve as seed stock and edible byproduct.
Fast-forward to May 2018 when Jim hosted the Karpinsky Tree Farm Field Day for Woodland Owners. More than 50 walnut growers and enthusiasts spent the day viewing hundreds of stick-straight walnut trees of varied age and size, all growing row-crop style on 30 acres carved from the property. “That’s what makes this walnut farm different,” says Jim. “I always suspected we could grow the trees here, but the decision to plant and cultivate trees in spaced rows has provided easier and safer access to the trees and allows us to employ equipment for planting and keeping the valuable logs trimmed and straight.”
While the Karpinsky walnut lumber enterprise looks promising, Jim admits the fruits of his labor will be harvested by the next generation. “Producing walnut lumber like this is a slow cycle,” he says. “Our oldest trees are 40 years old, and they won’t be ready to harvest for another 20 years,” he says. “Trees we plant today will be in the hands of future Wisconsin walnut farmers.”
Meanwhile, Jim is motivated by the challenge of doing what can’t be done and creating a lasting natural resource. As for all the nuts produced by those trees, Jim says he’s devising an efficient mechanical method of harvesting, cracking and sorting the tasty treasures. “Luckily, I happen to know of a food equipment manufacturer that might be able to solve this challenge.”
Jim Karpinsky founded Food Process Systems Inc. (FPS) in 1989. Since then, his team has been designing and building custom processing solutions for poultry, seafood, meat, dairy and snack food producers worldwide. FPS focuses on sanitary design and innovative material handling concepts, especially vibratory technology, which Jim envisions branching out to his walnut operation.