Story and photos by Bruce Schultz
SUNSET – When Mark Guidry (“Guidry”) and his business partners sold their
oilfield casing business of 35 years, Guidry finally had the time to bring his long
time dream of farming to life. Decades earlier, he told his pharmacist father, now
95, “I’ll own an organic farm one day.”
The notion of producing food always intrigued him and turns out, it was in his
blood–though it skipped a few generations. His great grandfather, Dominique
Guidry owned farmland which was eventually sold and developed.
In 2014 with the purchase of an 8-acre pecan orchard near Scott, the practice of
farming was revived in the Guidry family. He brought long-time friend and
colleague Danny Hamilton on board with plans of producing pecans without using
pesticides. As a boy, Hamilton learned about farm life on his grandfather’s place
near Breaux Bridge.
Unfortunately, the orchard’s production was undependable because of hurricanes
and inconsistent rainfall.
Most folks would have given up at that point, but not Guidry. He decided to
source out-of-state organic pecans to supplement production. Eventually, Guidry
sold the land near Scott and bought a 175-acre farm near the Coteau Ridge in Sunset for the Guidry
Guidry has enjoyed the transition from oilfield to food production as he says,
“there is always a project to work on at the farm.” Although Guidry is still active in
the oilfield, he has grown fond of working the soil. “I love to be in the field on my
Guidry credits Connie, his wife of 37 years, for her expertise and guidance in the
enterprise from running the office, filling orders, sales, creating recipes using all
the products, marketing, and advertising. “Keeping things running smoothly and
supporting my dream. And now we get to work together every day.”
Guidry has observed that younger buyers are particular about food with an
emphasis on quality. “This generation wants to know where their food comes
He said the taste of their pecans is important, and Hamilton and his wife Tina
samples each batch of organic pecans before shipping out their Organic Pecan
Butter nationwide. “All pecans are not created equal,” Guidry said.
Because Guidry farms produces and sells organic pecan products locally and
nationwide their operation must annually pass inspection by the U.S. Department
of Agriculture. A log must be kept showing when equipment and cookware is
cleaned. Tina, a native of Cecilia, Louisiana, plays a key role in
compliance, and she insists on everything being kept “Cecilia clean.”
Organic and nonorganic materials cannot be co-mingled, and part
of their warehouse is designated for the nonorganic products only.
The Guidry Farms Organic pecan butter is made with roasted pecans and salt. “My
daughter Renee developed the recipe,” Guidry said.
The fact that they do not process any other tree nuts sets Guidry Farms apart
in the nut-butter industry.
Guidry Organic Pecan Butter has gained the popularity of many followers who are
allergic to nuts other than pecans. Their pecan butter is gluten-free, sugar-free,
and keto friendly and processed in a facility that only handles pecan butter.
Pecan oil has a mild nutty flavor with the highest smoke point of 470 degrees one
of the highest of all the oils on the market. This is what Southern Living magazine
says about pecan oil: “The reason why everyone down in these parts should have
pecan oil in the kitchen comes down to a couple things, starting with a very high
smoke point of 470 degrees (versus other high-smoking competitors like peanut
oil, which clocks in at 450 degrees), which makes it perfect for your frying pan. It
also has nearly half the saturated fats of other heart-healthy oils like olive oil,
which means you get more robust flavor from the buttery and nutty notes in
pecan oil without sacrificing health goals.”
Guidry Farms has a processor to squeeze and filter pecan oil from the
nuts. A pound of pecans will produce about 8.5 fluid ounces of oil that can be
used as a substitute for your olive oil. What is left after pressing the oil is an
organic high-protein meal sold as a protein additive or flour substitute to use as a
coating for fish, chicken, or in baking muffins pancakes, and pies. And it is
gluten-free, paleo and keto friendly.
Guidry Farms has more than pecan products.
They also produce unfiltered raw honey from hives on the farm, with other local
honey producers supplementing their inventory. Guidry said they hope to have a
pick-your-own blueberry operation soon.
Guidry Farms sells eggs from their pasture-raised chickens which can be
purchased locally near Lafayette from Champagne’s Grocery, Drug Emporium,
Sandra’s Health Food Store and Fresh Pickin’s. The chickens forage daily in
pastures around the coop and their manure fertilizes the pastureland for the
Guidry Farms cattle.
Mark Guidry is working on a new invention, a floorless coop to deter
hawks and coyotes from killing the birds.
The 175 acres of pasture fertilized by the chickens is for a herd of Brangus cattle to
produce grass-fed beef grass finished beef. They sell quarter, half and whole
calves, and orders can be placed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidry said the cattle are raised with organic practices, using rotational grazing.
Grass-fed cattle production in Louisiana can be challenging, said Vince Deshotel,
LSU AgCenter county agent who currently works with cattle producers in the area.
“The biggest challenge is having enough grass,” Deshotel said. “It can be difficult
to have enough forage to bring cattle to a desirable weight. The big trick is not to
be overstocked.” Getting a calf to a finished weight takes longer, more than 20
months, compared to 18-20 months for cattle finished on feed. But deciding when
a calf is finished is subjective. “It depends on what is acceptable in terms of
marbling and finish,” Deshotel said. “The whole goal for the beef is to be leaner.”
Deshotel said chicken litter is a good fertilizer for pasture, but in later summer and
early fall, the amount of chicken manure will probably decrease as the birds
become less active and reduce egg production.
Deshotel said Brangus is a good choice for grass-fed beef because the breed has
good tolerance to insects and heat. Brangus cattle are 3/8 Brahman and 5/8
Angus. “Brangus cattle were developed at the Iberia Research Station,” Deshotel
said. The first cross between Angus and Brangus at the research facility was made
Guidry Farms pecans products are sold on Amazon and, at numerous local stores
in New Orleans, Lafayette, Sunset and surrounding areas.
Check out their website, https://www.guidryorganicfarms.com to see a full lists of the numerous stores and places where the products are sold in addition to nutritional information about honey
and pecans along with recipes.