They may be in different states or even countries, with different accents, ages, and favorite pastimes. Yet one thing unites them all – their passion for farming.
Our growers have this passion running deep in their blood. Most have been born into the family tradition – they were taught by their fathers and grandfathers the values and work ethics to live by each day.
We’re proud of our growers and the hard work and pride they put into growing each fruit or vegetable.
Check back often as we continue to add more profiles!
Larry Corn; L&M Farms - Palatka, FL
Charlie Corn, Larry’s father, first started farming cabbage in Palatka, FL in 1950. He began farming potatoes in 1952, along with corn and cucumbers. Larry, along with his son Brett, still farm on this same land in Putnam County, FL. Through years of experience, they continue to grow the finest L&M potatoes (new reds, whites, and Yukon golds), cabbage, broccoli, and greens.
Ray Keller; Yakima, WA
Ray Keller brings an understanding of the apple industry that stems from deep within his own family tree. From the time Keller’s grandfather bought his first orchard in 1914, the Keller family has always been passionate about growing top quality apples. Look for them in L&M’s Natures Delight label.
Tracy Pope; Clinton, NC
To Tracy Pope, growing quality vegetables is both a way of life and a passion. The family farming tradition stretches back four generations in Sampson County, NC. Edward Pope first brought his crops to sell at the Faison, NC auction market in the 1970’s. Tracy and his family’s farm brings you only the finest squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and bell peppers.
Tracy Pope is also proud to be President of both the Vegetable Association of NC and the Horticulture Council in NC.
Gene Barnett; L&M Farms - Immokalee, FL
If you ask Gene Barnett what he’s most proud of as a farmer, his answer is simple – “Just growing.” Season after season, he enjoys the freedom of the outdoors, and watching his hard work come to life in the form of a wide variety of Florida crops. Like his father and grandfather before him, Gene has been farming since childhood. Now, after forty-five years of being in the fields, he thinks back, “I always wanted to be a farmer,” he says without a doubt.
When Gene is not driving a tractor, he’s likely to be in the sky piloting his plane; which he has been doing since he was 16.
Kenny Bennett; L&M Farms - Moultrie, GA
Kenny Bennett was born with a passion for farming. As a third generation farmer, Kenny inherited both a strong work ethic, and a talent for growing quality Georgia crops. In 1969 when Kenny was in 11th grade, he was ready to become his own farmer, so he decided to rent a few acres of land and grew wheat and soybeans. During his senior year of high school, while his friends were going to the beach, Kenny bought and farmed 101 acres of land. Today Kenny still owns those acres of land in Moultrie, Georgia, plus 3,000 more.
Ryan Williams; Calipatria, CA
Ryan Williams is an onion man. Out in the beautiful, sunny fields of Calipatria, California – Ryan works with growers when it’s time to harvest. He’s an expert at harvesting, packing, and warehousing onions until they are ready to be on your plate. Ryan loves “the whole process”.
And when Ryan finds time away from the onion field, he and his dad collect and restore antique tractors. They have around 60… all of which were made before 1950!
Roger Strand; Cowiche, WA
As a second generation apple grower, Roger Strand and his family has helped progress the apple industry in many ways. They built the first Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage in the northwest, and Roger was one of the leaders in writing the first CA laws for the State of Washington. It’s doubtful you will find Roger posing for a picture anytime soon, but if you need to find him, he’s most likely in an orchard taking great care of his apple trees.
Eric Hansen; Stanley, NY
New York cabbage is Eric Hansen’s specialty. In New York, growing cabbage is unique and Eric takes pride in that.
Eric has been in the fields most of his life. He simply loves being a farmer. His grandfather first started farming in 1955; and passed along his zeal for growing to Eric’s father, who then taught Eric. Eric is happiest when out in the fields being a “steward of the land.”
In addition to growing the finest New York cabbage, Eric also loves hunting – bow hunting, specifically.
Joey Mickler; Clewiston, FL
Joey Mickler started farming in North Florida in the early 1980’s before moving his operation to South Florida to work in the sugar cane industry. Soon he found produce calling his name and has been farming top quality vegetables ever since.
Joey’s favorite part about being a farmer? The satisfaction of seeing the crops grow. “Success is seeing it grow,” he explains. “If I didn’t get to see it grow, I wouldn’t be in it. That’s why we are all in it.”
Joey’s favorite way to spend his time away from the fields is with his family.
Michael Gray; Elizabeth City, NC
When asked how he got into farming, Michael Gray’s answer is simple. “I was born into it,” he says without hesitation. Growing up on the farm, Michael learned the lessons of hard work and determination allowing him to be the successful farmer he is today. “When I’m not on the farm, I’m thinking about it,” he says. Michael loves many of the aspects about being a farmer, but his favorite is the entire “process” – planting, watching it grow, and then harvesting a good crop. “It takes a lot of time to be a farmer, but it’s my passion.”
When he is not in his fields, Michael can be found spending time with his family, or sometimes in the woods hunting.
Jeff Peed; Aurora, NC
Jeff has always been around farming. He started farming in 1993 for himself after he obtained a four year horticulture degree from North Carolina State University. He’s always had a love for watching things grow, and even as a child, had his own garden.
Jeff also enjoys hunting and fishing, with quail hunting being his favorite.
Agricola Vema; San Quintin Baja California – Mexico
Agricola Vema’s founder, Absalom Vega Munguia, entered the world of produce in the early 1990’s. After saving his money, he bought a truck to transport vegetables from the fields to packing sheds. Then a few years later, he decided to try his hand at growing his own vegetables.
Munguia founded Agricola Vema in 1998. He’s had the opportunity to see his company sprout from a simple six acre open field to 80 acres of shade house and 20 acres of open field – right in the heart of one Mexico’s top growing areas.
Agricola Vema grows Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers.
Agricola FAADER; Culiacan, Sinaloa – Mexico
The Mexican soil has been kind to Fernando Sr. Since deciding to give farming a try in the early 1980’s, Fernando Sr. has learned to grow an array of vegetables. He has grown eggplant, Roma and grape tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and more! Then about two years ago, Fernando Sr. joined his son Fernando Jr., who has over ten years of shade and greenhouse growing experience, to form Agricola. Together with L&M, Agricola grows only the finest slicer cucumbers and Roma tomatoes.