During a heat wave in August 2006, our produce buyer Dan has been suffering it more than most. On his long fruit-finding trips to the central part of California, Dan sweats the details of delicious for us while sweating through his shirts; and he has officially declared the heat a menace.
The vehicle he drives to visit farmers is one of the refrigerated trucks we bought from Webvan when they were quietly selling off assets before they went bankrupt – and it’s excellent for keeping fruit nice and cool in the back. But up front in the cab where Dan sits, the tiny a/c fan rigged through a miniature hole in the cooler can’t compete with the 110-degree heat. For this, I want to thank Dan for his perseverance publicly. Dan found a neat grape grower recently in Kingsburg, Blake Carlson, who started his farm in 1985 with his wife, Lisa. The Carlsons grow grapes, peaches, plums, and pluots; and together with their crew of pickers, they are often out in the orchards to hand-select their produce. Dan spent time with them last week watching their careful processes, sweating, and tasting the fruit that was maturing. He learned from them that Kingsburg is what they call “the small Swedish community.” The town was founded in the early 1800s, and 80% of the population was Swedish. The main strip in the town center has what Erik, our COO, and bi-lingual German speaker, calls a northern European “gemutlekeit” – a cozy and friendly feeling. Many of the wooden and decorated buildings have a look that reminds non-Swedish folks like me of meatballs, mid-1970’s Volvos and flower-covered May-poles – all things I may have been subconsciously fed in my childhood from listening to ABBA songs.
Faster from the farm means fresher to you: Blake and Dan have set up a program to get his grapes from Kingsburg to us and out to you faster than any store or supplier can. For our Monday customers, the grapes you see in the crates will be harvested by Blake on Saturday – by the time you get them they will not be more than 36-48 hours off the vine. That’s pretty amazing considering most stores bought produce can sit in the supply chain for an average of 7 days. We’ll be getting resupplied by Blake daily as needed to keep his grapes as fresh as possible for you. Blake’s grapes will be in all the conventional crates.
Enjoy and be fruitful! Chris Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org