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Double D Farms gearing up for organic asparagus season

At Double D Farms in Fresno, CA, the key items for fall and winter are organic asparagus and broccoli.

“We are currently finishing our production of organic and conventional cantaloupe, corn and onions,” said Gurdeep Billan, director of sales. “Asparagus from Baja will start in late September, and we’ll have steady supplies through December. From there, we transition to Northern Mexico, shipping out of Yuma, AZ, for a January-to-May organic asparagus program.”

Double D Farms is one of the larger growers of organic asparagus in the country, with supplies from Mexico coming September through April.

“We also farm conventional asparagus from the same area,” said Mr. Billan. “Our organic line also includes domestically grown cantaloupe, honeydew and mixed melons. These are produced in the Imperial and Central San Joaquin valleys for a May-through-September program.”

Double D Farms also produces organic onions and blueberries, and it has an extensive winter vegetable program with broccoli, celery and cabbage in the organic category.

Double D also has farms in the San Luis Valley in Sonora, CA, that produce asparagus. Its primary customers are small chain and large chain retailers, wholesalers, distributors, foodservice operations and processors. It ships nationwide and exports to foreign countries.

Mr. Billan said that although some may disagree, the current state of the economy has actually benefited the produce industry because consumer-purchasing habits have been diverted back to shopping at local retail grocery stores.

“A weakened economy means that more people are cooking at home,” he said. “The pressures in the economy have also had an effect on consumers realizing the importance of staying healthy, especially with the growing obesity epidemic crisis. The result is an increase in the demand for fresh produce.”

Mr. Billan said that the company is currently in a major growth phase. Its sales continue to increase annually as it aligns with customers to meet their needs, while assisting them in growing their organic category.

Double D Farms’ dynamic team includes Randy Johnston, general manager of operations. “As head of our operation, Randy brings over 25 years of farming, sales and operations experience to our team,” said Mr. Billan. “Aaron Winslow, a sales representative, has an extensive sales background primarily in organic produce. He is a great asset to our team. Our sales coordinators, Chris Carbajal and Sal Pacheco, are also great assets. They are both responsible for support in all of our sales and marketing efforts, and they both came to Double D with vast field operations and distribution background experience.”

Mr. Billan started working for Double D Farms in January. He comes from an extensive retail-procurement environment with both national and regional chain retailers. He also teaches part time at the University of Phoenix in the College of Business.

The locally grown movement, Mr. Billan feels, is having a positive effect on the organic segment.

“It’s good for the produce industry as a whole,” he said. “It is helping to educate and persuade consumers to eat healthier by providing key nutritional information, regardless if it is locally grown or not.”

He added that produce professionals work in a highly dynamic industry in which people have to create, access and continue to meet the needs of consumers.

“Organic produce consumption continues to increase annually, and as premium growers of fresh organic produce, we are committed to meeting this need,” he said. “Locally grown trends are creating additional outlets of distribution, which have created added demand for produce commodities whether they are local, organic or conventional.

“Double D Farms is committed to continuing to improve our operations within all areas of our company every year,” he added. “And we will continue to utilize our internal resources to become more efficient in the areas where we operate.”