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Homegrown Organic Farms shifts focus to company’s fruit programs

Homegrown Organic Farms in Porterville, CA, remains satisified with the spinoff of its organic vegetable and melon operations to Creekside Organics Inc. in Bakersfield, CA. the company first announced the move in an April press release.

Scott Mabs, director of marketing for Homegrown Organic Farms, told The Produce News the company turned the row crops it has done in the past, such as melons and bell peppers, over to Creekside.

“The row crops represented a small percent of Homegrown Organic’s overall business,” said Mr. Mabs. “This enables us to focus specifically on our fruit program, which is expanding rapidly.”

Brenda Haught, owner and president of Creekside Organics, is a former employee of Homegrown Organic Farms. Mr. Mabs said the company helped her move forward on starting her own deal.

In the press release, Ms. Haught was quoted, “I am honored and excited to be given the opportunity to start my own company and give the growers the attention to detail that will be afforded by focusing individually on these items.”

John France, president of Homegrown, added, “As an organic fruit grower myself, I have always been concerned about how to get the best return back to the grower. With Homegrown’s primary focus on the current expansion of our citrus, blueberry, tree fruit and grape programs, we have reached the point where the needed considerations of our vegetable and melon growers could not be given the level of attention that I would want as a grower. Brenda and I have the same belief in that the grower must be served with the proper amount of attention in order to survive.”

Creekside Organics began marketing organic bell peppers farmed in Thermal, CA, in late April.

Homegrown Organic Farms is set to start its grape program in the later part of July.

“We’ve added a new one-pound clamshell to our grape lineup,” said Mr. Mabs. “We’re offering both green seedless and red seedless grapes in the new pack.

“Our citrus program is continuing. November will mark the launch of our new organic clementine program,” he added. “The fruit is grown in Bakersfield,” CA.

The company is currently marketing blueberries in all the conventional packages from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Mabs said there was a large increase in production this year resulting in good promotional opportunities.

“Our blueberries are shipped across the country,” he said. “A lot of people look for very high-quality organic blueberries, and they come to us from anywhere in the country.”

Mr. Mabs announced two new staff members at Homegrown Organics. Chad Hansen, sales representative, joined the company about six months ago. Cherie France joined the firm about three months ago as a sales and marketing assistant.

“Chad is new to the produce industry,” said Mr. Mabs. “He was previously in banking. Cherie is fresh out of college. It’s great to have these young people with us. It takes a bit of extra training to teach them about the business, but it gives us the advantage of having them learn to do things the way our company wants them done.”

Homegrown Organic Farms is also rolling with its tree fruit programs, which feature peaches, plums and nectarines. The programs run throughout the summer.

Mr. Mabs said that the demand for organics is as strong as ever, and growing.

“We did not feel a major change in demand through the recession,” he said. “Organics continually show growth, and we are seeing volume increases each year.”