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Successful Vidalia onion season expected at Generation Farms

Despite some inclement weather, the 2020 Vidalia onion season is shaping up to be a nice one for Generation Farms.

“We’ve had a lot of rain, but right now, about two months out from harvest, the crop looks good. We are expecting another successful season,” Lauren Dees, sales & marketing manager at Generation Farms, based in Vidalia, GA, told The Produce News.

Generation Farms distributes its onions nationwide and also in Canada through retail, wholesale and foodservice channels. Marketing is handled by Richter & Co., which markets the onions under the Generation Farms label.

“We are the only local grower with a complete onion category,” Dees said. “We’re the only grower in the Vidalia Region that has the Vidalia onions, along with traditional red, yellow and white onions. All of those are in our organic program as well.”

Unlike some other regional growers, Generation Farms has been maintaining its onion acreage.

“We are holding steady on the Vidalia onion acreage, but we continue to increase our Organic Vidalia onion program, as well as our traditional red, yellow and white onions,” Dees said.

Growing onions is a very labor intensive practice.

“We plant the onion seeds in the field around September and then we hand transplant them in November. From the time that you’ve sown the seed, to hand transplanting and hand harvesting, there are a lot of able bodies that go into our onion program,” Dees noted.

The company works closely with seed companies to source the best onion seeds suited for the Southeastern Georgia climate, Dees said.

Offering a full range of onions to customers is helping Generation Farms build its cache, especially with younger consumers along the Eastern Seaboard.

“Millennials are gaining purchasing power and today’s consumers like to know where they food comes from. We are committed to food safety, traceability and sustainability. We are a multi generational farm, and we take pride in being what we call ‘the East Coast One Stop Shop for All of Your Onion Needs,’” Dees said.

“We are able to be on the short list for every single onion category. For our customers on the East Coast we are able to offer them less carbon footprint than from buying onions from the West Coast or importing them from other countries,” Dees said.

“We are dedicated to safe practices and allowing other generations to continue to farm for years to come,” she added.

In addition to variety, another key focus at Generation Farms is on the packaging; Generation Farms offers its onions in every configuration from an individual wrapped single onion all the way up to a 50-pound bag.

“We can do a single mesh netting wrapped Organic Vidalia onion, which is unique in the organic category because it allows retailers to capture the organic pricing,” Dees explained.

“A lot of times there can be issues where there may be slip-ups or mistakes at the register. This way you don’t lose that mark-up because it has a barcode,” Dees noted.

Optimum Agriculture Acquires Generation Farms

OPTIMUM ICD HOLDINGS LLC EXPANDS INTO GEORGIA PRODUCE BUSINESSBECOMING ONE OF THE LARGEST OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN US

MIAMI, FL and VIDALIA, GA – December 10th, 2019 – Optimum Agriculture (Optimum), a leading global agricultural company focused on land acquisition and management, today announced that Optimum ICD Holdings LLC has acquired 5,587 acres of farmland, processing facilities and the trademark Generation Farms, as well as other assets in Tattnall and Toombs counties, Georgia from Generation Farms, LLC and affiliates (Generation Farms). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. From now on, all products and operations will be branded under the Generation Farms name.

Generation Farms grows, packs, and ships onions, watermelons, and other produce through its operations in and around Vidalia, Georgia. Optimum plans to continue these operations, including supplying many of Generation Farms’ previous customers.

“We welcome the talented team at Generation Farms to the Optimum family. This acquisition is part of a long-term plan to maximize operational efficiencies by diversifying weather and harvest risks across states,” said Gaston Marquevich, CEO of Optimum Agriculture. “Our short-term objective is to increase the utilization of the facilities by increasing production and to deliver a constant supply of food to retailers throughout the year.”

Through this transaction, Optimum ICD Holdings LLC will vertically integrate their businesses by growing, packing and shipping fresh produce to some of the largest retailers across the US. Following the acquisition of Generation Farms, Optimum ICD Holdings LLC aims to expand the production line focusing on products such as onions, watermelons, sweet potatoes, green beans, cabbage and sweet corn.

A company with family values at its core, Generation Farms was formerly owned by the Stanley family with three generations of farming experience dating back to 1964. This heritage is combined with Optimum’s proven track record in agriculture, whose success can be attributed to replicating family farming models that have been popular across Latin America for decades.

The Generation Farms transaction represents the third acquisition of Optimum ICD Holdings LLC in the US, following the acquisition of El Maximo Ranch and Island Pond respectively. Further information on Generation Farms can be found at
www.generationfarms.com

McLEOD FARMS HELPS CLEMSON UNIVERSITY PRODUCE S.C.’S BEST ICE CREAM

>> Look for Strawberry Shortcake in 109 Ingles locations

CLEMSON, SC — Clemson University has dished out the scoop on a new dairy brand, and McLeod Farms is a major contributor. CLEMSON’S BEST™ gourmet ice cream is available in select Ingles Markets with other outlets expected to follow.

The McLeods have joined three South Carolina families to bring consumers a Certified South Carolina-grown product and a true taste of home. Farms in Edgefield and Ridge Spring produce the milk, peaches and pecans. Strawberries come from the McLeods.

Ingles is the first regional supermarket to carry CLEMSON’S BEST™, easily recognized by its purple label. Pints are available in 109 stores throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Negotiations also are underway with Lowes Foods, Food Lion and Bi-Lo, already a big supporter of the Clemson Tigers, particularly in the Upstate.

Brand officials also are working with private-label retailers that already sell Clemson Blue Cheese, the university’s first dairy product. It has developed a tremendous fan base since 1941, when Professor Paul Miller discovered the Stumphouse Tunnel near campus created the perfect environment to age cheese.

For the university’s newest gourmet product, small-batch ice cream maker Greenwood Ice Cream worked directly with the university to handcraft four Southern flavors. One is vanilla “but not just any vanilla,” said Hickory Hill’s Watson Dorn, whose Holstein cows produce milk ultra-rich in butter fat for the wildly popular Clemson Blue Cheese. “Don’t expect anything skinny under the lid, though — just a spoonful of good from some of The Carolinas’ best farmers.” Hickory Hill Milk also is non-homogenized, a rare find these days and a nostalgic return to times when a thick layer of cream rose to the top of each bottle.

That’s what also makes the new vanilla confection “an unbelievably creamy, nostalgic ice cream like Grandma made,” Dorn said.

Other flavors include Caramel Butter Pecan, Peaches and Cream, and Strawberry Shortcake, so far the second most popular flavor, according to sales receipts.

Ten percent of the proceeds from CLEMSON’S BEST™ fund student-related learning, including scholarships, internships, research and campus programs in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

That is important to us,” said Brett Dalton, the university’s VP of Finance and Operations, “and it made our ice cream an easy pitch to cooperating farms, all of which are owned by Clemson graduates. Our ice cream brand isn’t about the orange and purple or the iconic tiger paw. It’s about fresh food, South Carolina farms and efforts to fund a legacy of agriculture in the Palmetto State.”

Clemson’s legacy had once belonged to Vice President John C. Calhoun, whose daughter married Green, an engineer, musician and artist. Bibliographers have written that Clemson wanted to start an agricultural college because he felt government officials did not appreciate the importance of agricultural education. Clemson Agricultural College opened in July 1893 with 446 students. They were the first class to learn the college’s concept of paying forward and giving back.
“McLeod Farms is proud to support Clemson University, South Carolina produce, and the local farm movement,” said Spencer McLeod, who works with his father Kemp — South Carolina’s 2017 Farmer of the year — to grow fruits and vegetables on land that has been with the McLeods since 1916. “We’re honored to help create a Certified SC product.”

For more information, visit http://www.clemsonsbest.com.