Lemon flavored recipes are a fan favorite for Garden Fresh Corp. Restaurants, Sweet Tomatoes & Souplantation. One farm that we are featuring that gives our delicious recipes a zesty pop of flavor is Limoneira Company.
Limoneira Company, a 122 year old agricultural business, was founded by Nathan W. Blanchard and Wallace L. Hardison in 1893 and is now one of the largest lemon producers in North America. With rich agricultural lands and operations throughout California, Limoneira has a joint venture in Chile and a partnership in South Africa to produce and sell lemons. There are nearly 11,000 acres in agricultural production of lemons, avocados, oranges, specialty citrus, pistachios, pluots, and cherries.
John Chamberlain, Director of Marketing, gave the Garden Fresh team a tour at one of 14 Limoneira ranches in Santa Paula, CA. He shared information about the lemon farm. John has been with Limoneira for 11 years after completing a project that he volunteered with the Santa Paul’s Economic Development Advisory Committee. “I loved what they did and do, so I said yes. It’s been wonderful. I love it,” says John.
Young lemon trees are planted and it takes approximately seven years for them to produce their first yield. Lemon trees are on average eight feet tall and seven to eight feet in diameter. A lemon tree is productive approximately 75 years. As the tree approaches this age span, the tree provides lower yields and the fruit is not as strong. John says, “As older trees become less productive, newer “blocks” of lemon trees are planted. When new blocks are planted, we plant more trees per acre to maximize utilization of land and water resources. We put in newer blocks of trees a few times annually.”
How do they know how many lemons to produce? John says, “Our sales team sets budgets annually and after working with customers for many years, has a relatively good understanding of their demand. They are also speaking with new customers regularly. Each week our harvest, packing and sales teams meet to discuss supply and demand.”
Lemon trees produce lemons for “picks” four times a year. Around seven 40 pound cartons per tree, per year are produced. “Fresh lemons account for about 75%-80% of our annual lemon sales with the remainder going to juice,” says John. Once the lemons are picked by hand, they are sent down the long conveyors to be sorted, cleansed, and filled into cartons.
Limoneira values their approximately 331 employees and offer many benefits. “We’re one of the largest providers of Farm Worker Housing in California. It’s important for the people that do the hardest work of all have good housing. We have generations of family members that work at Limoneira. Many of our employees have been with us for decades and one has even been with us for over 50 years!” says John. There are workers who handle cultural practices, irrigation, and weeding at the farm.
Limoneira has been a long successful company. “We’ve been growing for 122 years, and we love it and will continue to do it. As people become more aware of where their food comes from, they want healthy and sustainably produced lemons. We think the future is very bright,” says John.
He continues, “We believe that you can do well by doing good. We try to treat our employees, partners and customers with respect. It takes all of us working together to build a sustainable world.”
In part two about Limoneira Company, you’ll learn more about their sustainability.
About Limoneira Company
The Limoneira Company was founded in Ventura County, California in 1893. Its founders were pioneers of spirit and vision that helped lay the foundations of a thriving California citrus industry. Today, Limoneira has evolved into a global company whose mission is to preserve and promote its tradition, heritage and legacy in agriculture, community development and stewardship to maximize value for its shareholders.