Last Saturday, my Sister—your Bakersfield hosts–Debbie and Mark took their son Steve college shopping so Cynthia and I got to go pretend to be hosts for a day along with her friends Kathy and Erik.
It was a hoot; a total privilege to get to meet and re-meet so many wonderful subscribers. There was just a whole lot of love there, the 5 hours from 7-12 just flew by.
I knew then that AHO wasn’t doing very well financially, but by Tuesday, we had some solid and sobering numbers that made our family decision Wednesday pretty straight forward.
I’m really going to miss Abundant Harvest Organics. I’m really going to miss the connection we have with all of you. Believe it or not, I might even miss the 3 hours pecking out this note each week…
We’ve had a vey simple premise these past 11 years (Yes 11, because website construction started April of ’07 even though the first produce didn’t go out til September); “the only thing that’s important is the family that grows it and the family that eats it.” This guiding principle helped a lot of small farmers get started and become successful and a lot of families get and stay healthy.
You and those farmers are why we hung on longer than rational business would support and frankly, we kept thinking that if we just adjusted this piece, added this product, delivered it to your door or tried this marketing it would turn around.
Eleven years ago, Organic produce was hard to find, cost too much and wasn’t fresh. I didn’t know if anyone would buy it, but I was positive we could create a farmer alliance and distribution system to fix those three issues and we did. Today, Organic is a lot more available, it isn’t marked-up as much so it moves quicker and thus is fresher; what got you here won’t take you there.
I’m grateful for all our farmers over the years.
I’m grateful for you.
I’m grateful for Kathy who left a 6-digit career to come follow a dream a couple months before we even started. Kathy helped pack the first boxes, wrote the back side of the newsletter, shepherded abundant harvest through at least 5 websites and provided personal care over the years to anyone with technical or credit card challenges.
Blanca took personal ownership of subscriber satisfaction from getting it out to replacing happiness. She is a special daughter who’s worked here since she was a teenager; her second child is en route! Her dad worked here 20 years before that, every sister has come-up through the shed and 2 others are still here in very responsible positions.
While Amy Beth has been off adventuring the globe and marrying, for about 5 years, her camera and pen told the AH story so beautifully, even travelling to Africa for peaches to papayas. Jessica’s detail and photography are amazing still and Cassandra has been a big help keeping the media current.
Brittney has been doing a wonderful job keeping your add-ons available and the kitchen running in organic compliance; she just takes care of it. Chef Sarah initially and Karen currently have lovingly created healthy, flavorful, convenient meals that I have really enjoyed.
Through rain, snow, sleet, fog, fire and Southern California traffic I can count on one hand the times your truck drivers were unable to get the produce to you, I’m still amazed at that; almost 7,000 community stops a year; unbelievable.
Son Erik has been the interface between AHO and your farmers all but the first few months. He ordered it, packed it and drove the delivery truck in the beginning. Planning, planting and weekly harvest in a real world that’s not that predictable. Every single farmer has expressed gratitude to me for AHO generally and Erik specifically. Because he’s a muddy booted farmer himself, there has been a tremendous camaraderie; a let’s work this out give and take that just doesn’t exist in normal agricultural commerce. His first daughter should be here about the time you read this.
Daughter Heather came home to take the general management of AHO. She started working in the shed when she was 4 then got a degree in graphic design 18 years later. She moves easily between Spanish and digital communication and has earned the respect of everyone. Her 3rd child is en route, so while AHO’s end is tough, being able to stay home with her and the first 2 is an incredible benefit.
Wife Carol has created over 500 recipes over the years to compliment your produce. I asked her once when she would run out of recipes, and she said I’d run out of something to say first. She has worked with Erik twice a week to balance all the produce in your box and watched her grand children so Heather could run the business. She keeps the family in family business.
Maybe that’s what I’m most grateful for… With God’s help, we created, grew, operated and now have closed down a very intense, dynamic, successful business and we still all love each other…who pulls that off these days?
So, while this is so-long to AHO, this will be The Peterson Family’s 125th year farming, packing and shipping peaches in Kingsburg. You are always welcome to stop by anytime, especially if you bring children. We’ll tour the shed, go see the farm and chickens and if it’s hot, Uncle Vern’s pool is way cooler than any water park. We love you a lot.