Suwannee Sweet Onions in Season

generationSweet news, folks. Suwannee onions from the fields of Lee County, Florida have arrived, and it looks like we’re in for a huge crop. They’re the first set of sweets to ship from Generation Farms. Vidalias begin shipping in late April.

Look for the Suwannee label and get them while you can. And when you get them home, store the onions in a cool, dry spot with ample airflow. A worn-out pair of sheer pantyhose works wonders. Trust us, the hose helps protect the onions from nicks and bruises. Or store sweet onions in the refrigerator, but never in plastic bags. They’ll go bad much faster.

• Place an onion in the toe of the pantyhose.
• Tie a small knot.
• Keep going until you fill an entire leg.
•  When you need an onion, cut below a knot.

Keep in mind that sweet onions are high in sugar and water content, and low in sulfur compounds. (That’s what causes tears when you cut an onion.) Because of these properties, sweet onions aren’t suited for long-term storage, so use them within several weeks of purchase. To extend their shelf life, wrap each onion in a paper towel or a piece of newspaper and place it in the refrigerator. Steer clear of plastic bags, however. Onions won’t keep long in stuffy conditions.

IMG_1598For long-term storage, sweet onions can be frozen, but because their texture changes they should be used only for cooking. Chop the onions and place them on a cookie sheet, directly into the freezer. When frozen, store the onions in plastic bags or freezer containers. If you prefer whole onions, peel, wash, core and freeze in plastic bags.

Go straight to the source — The Sweet Onion Source — for a variety of ways to enjoy Suwannee sweets onions from Generation Farms.

Richter Produce Announces Historic Merger; Welcomes Generation Farms

“We will strive every day to make the world a better place for the next generation.”

The merger of two major family farms rooted in the South stole major headlines during the Southeast Produce Council Expo in Hollywood, Florida, and quickly circulated in top produce publications that broke the story.

Soon after Richter and Company revealed that Stanley Farms and Coggins Farms were merging under the Generation Farms brand, buyers and reporters swarmed quickly to gather details during the Southern Exposure expo. The official deal was done quietly on March 1, with representatives from both farms and Richter celebrating with a gentlemanly handshake. Most of the current staff from both farms are expected to remain on board.

Richter and Co. has marketed Stanley Farms since the 1970s and will represent the newly formed Generations Farm, as well.

“The coming together of these two farms under one banner is extremely remarkable,” said Kevin Rogers, National Business Development Director for Richter and Co. “To have this much knowledge under one roof is unprecedented. It’s a monumental move for these two families who are creating a first-of-its-kind industry-leading model. By working together, we can accomplish so much more for our consumers and farm families, and more importantly, help secure the livelihood and longevity of the American farmer on whom millions depend daily.

“Our motto is: ‘Striving each day to make the world a better place for the next generation,’” Rogers said. “And that’s what we intend to do, whether that’s exploring better farm practices, developing new ways to conserve natural resources, building stronger bonds between our farm families, or improving working conditions and wages for farm employees.”

Generation Farms is the largest grower, processor, packer and shipper of carrots and sweet onions on the East Coast. It also grows sweet potatoes, green beans, bell peppers, berries and watermelons.

Generation Farms came to fruition when Cotton Wood Agriculture acquired Stanley Farms and Coggins Farms, two legendary produce families. The privately held company is one of many tied to Microsoft mogul Bill Gates.

The Stanleys bring to the table three generations of onion expertise. Their name is synonymous with Vidalia sweet onions and family farming in Vidalia, Georgia. R.T. Stanley began his agriculture career as a sharecropper in 1964 and eventually bought his own land. He grew his first five acres of sweet onions in 1975. Today, Stanley Farms, operated by the patriarch’s sons Tracey, Brian and Vince, grows more than 1,000 acres of onions, including sweet Georgia reds.

The Coggins family, known throughout the Southeast for growing carrots, has a long history of farming innovation and is one of the most knowledgeable in organic crop management. Their agricultural roots began in Georgia three generations ago. Their approach to farming remains as straightforward as it was in the 1940s when Perry Coggins began raising dairy cows and crops: “Quality is mandatory, always produce the best product possible, and treat people right.”

Now with both families on one team, Generation is positioning itself as a catalyst for industry change and part of its mission is to elevate food quality, safety and sustainability to best in class.

Mike Coggins has been named director of ag operations; Vince Stanley is director of production; and his brother, Brian, is director of sales and marketing. The conglomerate is now headquartered in Lake Park, Georgia.

With farmland now spread across Georgia and Florida, Generations is establishing itself as the best alternative to West Coast produce, while holding to its promise to act as good stewards of the environment.

The farms’ management team is a powerhouse of experts who once worked for global agribusiness leaders like BASF, Bayer and Bunge. All that brainpower and expertise is constantly researching next-generation innovations to improve planting, harvesting and packing operations. Behind the scenes, farmers, employees, environmental experts and many more are working to create a company that is the leader in innovation and industry change, not only in food safety, but also in sustainability.

“As much as we were firmly entrenched in the marketplace, I knew we could (never build) the professional organization that we now have,” Vince Stanley said. “This collaboration has done that for us.”

The organization brings together professional accountants, a legal team, food safety experts and a human resources staff. “We even have a new agronomy team that guides our farmers, and a research and development component that is planting test plots, looking at new crops and moving us to the future,” Stanley said.

The mission of Generation Farms is to leave the land much better than they found it so that generations of future farmers can carry forth the tradition.

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Coggins Farms & Stanley Farms Joins Together to Form Generation Farms

Richter Produce Attends Southern Exposure Expo

SEPC_tenthHOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Produce distributor Richter and Co. helped to spread the word about buying regionally during the Southern Exposure conference, the Southeast Produce Council’s annual expo for the retail and foodservice industry.

The event in Hollywood, Florida, held March 3-5, drew record-setting attendance for the fifth straight year. At least 278 grower-shippers, distributors, marketers and others displayed their products during the expo. Industry insiders said turnout, which has climbed steadily over the last several years, was not a total surprise because The Southeast has become an increasingly important center for agricultural, retail and food service growth.

The conference moved this year to the beachside Diplomat Resort & Spa in south Florida, a new venue for the annual event. And in 2017, it moves again to Walt Disney World Dolphin resort in Orlando to accommodate continuous record crowds and exhibitors because the numbers climb steadily each year.


Exhibitors often use the expo as a launching pad for new products and a base for announcing exclusive industry news. A major highlight of this year’s event was the introduction of Generation Farms, a new label marketed by Richter and Co. Among produce businesses on the East Coast, Generation Farms is the largest grower, processor, packer and shipper of carrots and sweet onions. It also grows sweet potatoes, green beans, bell peppers, berries and watermelons.

Generation Farms came to fruition when Cotton Wood Agriculture acquired Stanley Farms and Coggins Farms, two legendary produce families. With both families on one team now, Generation Farms is positioning itself as a catalyst for industry change. Part of its mission is to elevate to best in class food quality, safety and sustainability. With farmland now spread across Georgia and Florida, Generation also is positioning itself as the best alternative to West Coast produce, while holding to its promise to act as a good steward of the environment.

The scope of the merger made it a natural to unveil at Southern Exposure. The event draws members of the produce industry to connect, learn and gain a fresh perspective from retailers, growers, food service distributors and wholesalers.

Richter and Co. has participated in the Southern Exposure since it began. The company distributes peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, blackberries, sweet potatoes and Vidalia onions to food chains across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Today, it represents growers in Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Florida and Michigan. And its longevity, dating back to 1927, has helped it to become one of the world’s largest peach distributors and a major shipper of Vidalia onions.

As a member of the Southeast Produce Council, Richter and Co. helps promote the consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

The concept is known throughout the industry as buying regionally. Produce purchased seasonally and regionally means that, in most cases, it can be prepared and served within 48 hours of harvest. The result is healthier communities and customers. Buying regionally also ensures the sustainability of family farms, a familiar way of life for those who live in the Southeast.