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Churchill Orchards

Jim Churchill writes:

 

My dad planted bacon variety avocados in 1974; by 1979 the market for bacons had begun to disappear as the avocado industry decided hass were altogether a superior product, and also our orchard had a root rot infection that was killing the trees. So I went looking for a citrus crop that I could grow and sell myself.

One day over at Friends’ Ranches packing house, gossiping with Tony Thacher and idly picking pieces of fruit out of bins and eating them, I picked up an amazing tangerine.

“Tony”, I said, “what is this?”

“It’s a pixie tangerine.”

“Do you sell them?”

“I only have two trees, and every year by the time I’m done selling my dancies my kids have always eaten all of the pixies.”

If you had been there you would have seen the lightbulb appear in a thought-balloon above my head. Sweet. Seedless. Easy to peel. Kids like ’em. I bet I can sell ’em.

I went out looking for budwood, had 80 trees grown, took out some sick and sorry bacon avocados, and planted the pixies. I got so excited that I went and had the nursery grow another 250 trees, but my father said, “Son, you don’t know how you’re going to sell that fruit. I think you ought to wait til you know you can sell the fruit before you plant any more trees.” So Tony Thacher took the trees off my hands, and that’s how Tony and I embarked on growing pixies commercially.

In 1988 we sold our first crop, to Monterey Market in Berkeley, California. Thanks to the support of Bill Fujimoto of Monterey Market, we developed a following for pixies in the Bay Area, which we’ve been able to leverage into nationwide sales as more Ojai growers have planted pixies and more retailers and consumers have noticed how good they are.

Somewhere in there Lisa Brenneis and I got married. Because we got married on March 30, our anniversary often gets short shrift, as the pixie season is always in full chaotic motion right about then. We spent our third anniversary, after the serious freeze of winter 1990, dropping partly frozen pixies into a big vat of water outside the shed to see which ones were frozen and needed to be thrown away and which ones we could sell. (Frozen citrus gets air pockets, and tends to float; unfrozen citrus lacks the air pockets and tends to sink. So all you have to do is reach into the freezing water and pull the unfrozen ones out…)

In addition to tolerance of me, a lifelong enthusiasm for really good food, and immense horticultural experience, Lisa brings to the operation wisdom, skepticism, a long-term planning sensibility, and really cool art direction.

Now we have about 1000 pixie trees; we also grow Pages, Satsumas, Encores, Seedless Kishus, TDEs, Gold Nuggets, as well as Chandler pummelos, oro blancos and cocktail grapefruit. We also still grow some avocados, but the big bet is on Pixies.

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Crops

Tangerines, Grapefruit & Specialty Citrus

Location:

Ojai, California

Certification

CCOF

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Corona College Heights

Today, when you look at Corona-College Heights Orange and Lemon Association’s modern packing facilities, you see the culmination of generations of hard work, experience and expertise in the citrus industry.

Over its long history, CCH has survived several fires, more than a dozen freezes, the Great Depression, two World Wars, about 14 mergers and acquisitions and 100+ years of operating challenges. Their broad grower base allows us to bring in fruit from all of the citrus growing areas of California and as far as the Arizona and Mexican borders.

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Crops

Figs, Grapefruits, Lemons & Oranges

Location:

California, USA

Certification

CCOF

3620393064_0206f2b8c2

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Homegrown Organic Farms

Since 1988, John and Cindy France have represented over 40 family growers in California and Oregon, and take pride in providing small organic farmers with an easy avenue to market their crops. In total, their growers tend over 3,500 acres of organic fruits.

The growers of Homegrown see themselves not only as farmers but as stewards of the land, supporting the organics industry for the betterment of both consumers and the environment. They enjoy gathering insight into the opinions of their buyers, and their webpage contains a forum in which consumers are invited to share their personal reasons for buying organic.

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Crops

Apricots, Blueberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lemons, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Persimmons, Plums, Pluots & Pomegranates

Location:

California, USA

Certification

CCOF

3620393064_0206f2b8c2

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José Luis – Las Palomas/PRAGOR

On their 10 Hectares property, Jose Luis and his brother grow primarily citrus. Grapefruits are mostly for the export market and limes and oranges for the national market.

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PRAGOR

PRAGOR is a Production Rural Society Company of avocado producers located in the state of Michoacán, in Central Mexico. PRAGOR – PROVEEDORES AGRICOLAS ORGANICOS S.P.R DE R.L – was formed in 2005 to market the Hass Avocado and seek Organic and Fairtrade certification. Their goal was achieved in 2006.

“We became committed to Fair Trade because we believe it is lifesaving. It assures a fair price and that makes the producer feel safe” – Pragor coop members

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South Texas Organics

Dennis Holbrook grew up in a citrus and row crop farming family. After returning from Texas A&I University, he rejoined the family business, and in 1977, he purchased the family citrus operation from his father. He soon became disillusioned with and concerned about conventional farming. As a result, South Tex Organics, L.C. was established in 1984. Dennis decided farming organically was the best way to grow the most nutritious and best tasting citrus.

Dennis has taken an active part in the growth of the organic industry in his state. He is a member of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). He is a founding member of the Texas Organic Growers Association (TOGA) serving as President and Chairman of the Board. In 1989, Dennis was appointed by the Agriculture Commissioner to serve on the first Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Organic Certification Review & Standards Advisory Committee.

Check Out Their Website! 

www.stxorganics.com

Crops

Grapefruit & Oranges

Location:

Texas, USA

Certification

USDA

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Sundance Natural Foods

The Sundance Natural Foods packing house is located in Oceanside, California nestled lovingly into a side hill and surrounded by an orange grove. They’ve been working with growers all around San Diego, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Kern and Ventura counties since 1971 and some of the best citrus comes from these folks. They proudly display the title of “industry leader” for a reason. As well as being an awesome supplier, Sundance offers full farm management services to their avocado and citrus growers helping them out with everything from pest management to land leasing. These guys care about what they’re doing and the people they work with. They’ve got a leg-up on not only fantastic growing conditions, but pretty easy-on-the-eyes landscape as well.

Crops

Avocados, Citron, Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes, Oranges & Pomegranates

Location

California, USA

Certification

CCOF

ccof

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