Homegrown Organic Farms, an organic fresh produce marketing company based in Porterville, CA, that represents over 3,500 acres of organic produce, has positioned itself for future growth with the purchase of a new facility in Kingsburg, CA, where it will consolidate all shipping and packing operations for fruit originating in the San Joaquin Valley.
The Homegrown Arvin facility near Bakersfield will continue to operate as a commercial cold storage, offering services to businesses in need of cold storage and shipping operations in the Bakersfield area. The Southern California citrus packing facility in Riverside will focus on citrus from Districts 2 and 3 and continue to operate as an overflow facility for District 1 citrus.
The Kingsburg facility occupies 28 acres five miles west of Highway 99. Its location will enhance logistical efficiencies and improve customer service through ease of access for transportation. It encompasses over 50,000 square-feet of cold storage space and 37,500 square-feet of packingline area. The 50,000 square feet of refrigerated space is separated across three structures that total five independent rooms.
The size and flexibility of the cold storage space will enable Homegrown to offer consolidation services to its customers as an opportunity to help manage their organic programs. The cold storage will be outfitted with ozonation and have the capability for controlled-atmosphere storage for management of specific timeframes and commodities.
The new packingline installation is currently underway and will be operational for the start of tree fruit season. It will feature the latest in post-harvest organic controls, including ozonation drench technology. All stonefruit will be handled in totes to ensure quality by reducing unnecessary pressure on the fruit during harvest.
In addition, sensitive citrus varietals such as the Gold Nuggets will be handled using totes instead of bins during harvest. A specific stem and leaf line has also been included to accommodate the future growth of the company's Mandarin program.
In describing the reasons for making the purchase of the new facility, Scott Mabs, chief executive officer of Homegrown, said, "There are three specific reasons - people, efficiency, and growth. A big part of this decision was made to help solidify and improve the livelihood of the people that we employ in our packing operations. Seasonal work is difficult to manage for us and our team members. This facility will allow us to provide year-round work for our packing team members, which will improve their lives and the people that depend on them. Secondly, significant efficiencies in energy and resource management will be realized by consolidating packing, cooling, quality control and shipping under one roof. And last but not least is the reality of our coming growth. Our development in blueberries, citrus and tree fruit over the next five years demands a change. We know this will have a marked impact on our business and our customers. We are excited about what the future holds for Homegrown and our valued team members."
Jeremy Basich was hired to be general manager for the new facility. He has a longstanding background in retail and wholesale, having spent 10 years in the fresh foods system at Costco. Following Costco, he was recruited to Wal-Mart and then Safeway as a produce and meat buyer. For the last seven years he has worked multiple projects most recently as the director of marketing for private food brokerage firms like NPE and Premiere Pacific Trading.
As general manager of the Homegrown Organic Farms' Kingsburg and Arvin facilities, Mr. Basich's focus will be on building a team that is focused on serving its customers and operating the facility in an economically and socially sustainable manner.