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The Last Pick!

As my final “Liz’s Picks” for the 2020 Season and in honor of Labor Day, I’d like to give a proper shout-out to the men and women who work hard to put food on our table.

Labor Day for us on the farm is a working holiday. It typically falls during the harvest of our last peach variety, the Carnival. It also marks the last day for our on-farm Fruit Stand, which means the final picking of the vegetables we sell there. Even though we all were working on Labor Day, it still gives us time to pause to reflect about just how important our employees are to our family farm and to farms everywhere.

Our three full-time employees, Ramon, Luis and Alberto, are THE most important people on Hudson Farms! Each one has been with us for many years. They take great pride in the years when the fruit looks good and does well in the marketplace, and they feel the same disappointment and discouragement we feel when we walk-away from crops because of weather-related/market impacts, as we did with the August Fire nectarines this past month. The angst was equally as visible on their faces as on my husband’s and son’s.  

Like us, their “office” is the orchards. They are out there almost every work day to help us grow peaches, plums and nectarines for consumers to enjoy. Like most farm employees, they work whether it’s hot or cold, drizzly fog (no rainy days) or dry and dusty, windy or with beautiful clear blue skies, using their skills to produce a high quality food product. They know which fruit wood tree branch to leave and which branch to prune away in the winter, as well as knowing which piece of fruit to thin away during the spring.

During harvest, they help oversee the harvest crews – farm labor contractors and crews we hire for the extra load – and grade the fruit to make sure it’s not too green, too small or has imperfections.  Our employees run the tractors and fork lifts, bringing each bin trailer full of fruit to the loading yard, and taking empty bins back out to the orchard for the harvest crews to fill.

It’s been said the best fertilizer you’ll ever need is your own shadow, meaning you have to walk your fields to truly know what’s going on with the crops you grow. Our employees are certainly part of our “fertilizer team,” and we value them! Like us, they know this farm like the back of their hand, and my husband often asks for their input on the crops’ progress.

Whether it’s in Sanger or across this fertile state, the men and women who work in the fields and orchards, in dairy barns or on foothill ranges put in long days to help ensure we, as consumers, have a safe, wholesome, and affordable food supply. They are the front lines of a value-added food industry that all starts with that piece of fruit, head of lettuce, or just-milked dairy cow that they were the first to handle. Thank goodness for their expertise and willingness to be here every day to help make our food industry the envy of the world. God bless our farm employees – our co-workers and friends!  

Note to readers: Thank you for the opportunity to share my rural perspectives during harvest season these past 14 weeks. Special thanks to Shelley Tatum Kieran and my BFF Michela O’Connor Abrams for the chance to be a part of their Collective Conscience Salons and blogs. The common denominator we all share is food—the universal pleasure, whether it’s in the growing of it, to the preparation of it or eating of it! Bon Appetit friends!

Liz, her husband Earl, their grown children and their families make up Hudson Farms, a fifth-and sixth-generation family farm in Sanger, CA.

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