Father-and-son team Jim and Greg Haury of Haury Family Farms near Visalia, California are second- and third-generation fruit farmers.
A portion of their ranch is located on the same land Jim’s wife Patty grew up on. Over the years that plot of land has produced cotton, pasture grass, alfalfa, and it now holds the newest opportunity for growth: organic pummelos, oranges and mandarins.
Citrus isn’t new for the Haurys; the family has had citrus trees in the ground since 1945, but the move to organics happened in just the last five years. Even with a lifetime’s worth of experience, the move to organic production is proving that there’s always something more to learn.
“My father’s been farming all his life, he has a lot of knowledge that he’s learned from others, from my grandfathers, and he’s picked up most of it himself,” Greg said about the benefits of the Haury family history. “We’re still learning something everyday.”
Early in his career, Jim had been interested in farming without pesticides. He tried it, but the damage pesticide use had already done to the balance of insects in the groves was too severe, and he was forced away from it.
More than 40 years later, Greg encouraged Jim to give organic farming another try, in hopes of reducing their exposure to the harsh chemicals involved in conventional agriculture.
“Greg comes at it from a different angle than I do, so we can bounce things off of each other. Most of the time we don’t come to fisticuffs,” Jim said with a warm smile, adding, “We always manage to agree on how to go about it. ”
Greg’s wife Angela puts her business degree to use by running the office and managing the certification paperwork.
Greg and Angela’s two sons are still in high school. While their parents are encouraging them to get an education before choosing a career, there are experiences unique to working a family farm that Greg hopes his sons could share, if they do decide to come back to the farm one day.
“I really feel the enjoyment of seeing a crop grow and mature and develop nicely—doing a good job on raising a crop—it’s a great sense of accomplishment, and something that would be wonderful for my boys to be able to have as they grow older, if they decide to be in farming with us,” Greg said.