Dear Valued and Loyal Customers,
It is with mixed emotions that we announce our decision to suspend our Farmers Market participation in Orange County. It is not an easy decision for us to make as we have worked hard to create a dynamic presence in these various farmer markets with an array of crops, many of which we had not previously grown in our company’s nearly 60 year history in Southern California. We believe that we have made an impression and have shown that fresh produce, locally sourced can be of superior quality and value to discerning customers.
In the last 18 months Orange County Produce has faced gut wrenching issues from plant disease and quarantine to food safety outbreaks, labor shortages and drought related threats to our water supply. We walked away from 2 small fields of green cabbage this spring as a result of our unusually mild winter and an unbelievably tough horde of aphids that infested our cabbage. In a similar way, we have been closely monitoring our production costs for organic carrots, radishes, beets, cilantro and parsley (to name a few) and because of the significant costs of hand weeding and thinning and other organic practices we found that we were upside down with our labor costs against our retail sales. The added costs and overhead of participating in farmers markets added to the red ink. We have some ideas of how we might find a better way to get our products to our customers but for now we needed to stop the losses…which were considerable. The exciting dialogue around "local grown" makes a lot of assumptions…the one that people seem to forget the most is that the farmer needs to stay viable!
We are so very thankful to you…our many friends and loyal customers for your years of farmers market patronage. As one of Orange County’s oldest active farming families we will continue our normal farming operations and stay committed to battling hunger and nutrition deficiency while striving to help teach the public about the challenges of getting our farm fresh products from the farm to the plate through our interactive projects at the OC Great Park. Don’t forget that much of our farm fresh produce is to be found at grocery stores and restaurants throughout Orange County…don’t hesitate to ask the produce store manager or chef for the OC Harvest label! Please know that we deeply appreciate your support and we will continue to look into creative new ways to get our products from the farm to your table…stay tuned! Help keep farming in OC by supporting your local farmers!
With a grateful heart, A.G. & Matt Kawamura