The fall rains are upon us. At the beginning of the month, we received over ¾ of an inch, which is substantial for our area. The storm was cold enough for snow in the mountains, and hopefully this is the start of some form of drought relief. Once it dried out, we continued pruning tree fruit orchards and wrapped up harvest on the grapes for the year. Overall, the weather has been nice and cool, which helps the trees enter dormancy and accumulate chill hours. Dormancy is important during pruning because it allows the trees to drop their leaves, giving the pruners a better view of the tree structure and make better cutting decisions. Chill hours are important because it allows the trees to enter their “resting” stage, and a more rested tree is a tree that will wake up happy and ready to go in 2023!
As we learn about and incorporate Ag technology into our farming methods, the goal is not to remove workers or jobs, but rather to improve jobs so that our employees can manage the same amount of work with less physical stress. Ag tech also helps us ensure that we can continue to grow and sell fresh produce as our environmental and political environment continues to shift. In reality, adding technology to our fields will end up saving jobs in the long run by ensuring that we are able to operate for generations to come. Tevel Aerobotics and HMC Farms are working together to create this future.
A huge part of being a family run business is contributing to our community. We live where we work, and coworkers are friends as well as neighbors. Pictured above are one of the many HMC Farms teams, full of family members, coworkers and our community. A life in farming is not simply trees and vines, it is not just what we do, it is who we are, and we are proud to provide for the community whenever possible. We are thankful every day for the opportunity to grow food for our families.
The week before Thanksgiving, HMC employees gathered to volunteer at the Fresno Food Bank. The Fresno Food Bank is an organization that we feel very strongly about. We know both our financial and personal efforts are well directed, as the Food Bank provides crucial support to those that are less fortunate in our community. Each year we donate produce as well as our time. In 2022 HMC Farms donated over 500,000 lbs. to the Central California Food Bank.
As a family owned farming business, we are always excited when we have the opportunity to partner with other local businesses in California’s Central Valley on different types of projects. Sometimes that leads to delicious pies and specialty ice cream flavors, and other times it leads to beautiful artwork.
This year, we had the opportunity to partner with Lauren, owner of Paper Farm Press, on a grape project. Paper Farm Press is a fellow Central Valley business which creates hand printed cards, stationery, and artwork prints using vintage printing machines affectionately named Willa and Heidi. Their mission is to cultivate community by learning about farming, encouraging others through hand-printed cards, and sharing recipes. Lauren’s work blends her faith with local agriculture, which requires a fair amount of faith in itself, in order to create beautiful pieces with important messages.
When Lauren, who happens to be one of our grape growers, reached out to us to learn more about the grape growing process, we were happy to help. We provided her with all of the details about preparing the soil, irrigating, pruning, growth stages, and harvesting our table grape vineyards. We also shared the ways in which we’re using agricultural technology to make our vineyard maintenance and harvest processes more efficient. Most people may think of grapes as a seasonal commodity, but farming truly is a year-round commitment to caring for and maintaining the vines and the land on which they grow. With the information provided by HMC Farms, coupled with Lauren’s design skills, the Paper Farm Press “Grapeful for You” stationery box came to fruition. Every piece in the collection is beautiful, but the artwork print “How to Grow Table Grapes to Feed the World” is the perfect interpretation of the work we do in our vineyards at HMC Farms.
One of our favorite things about Paper Farm Press, aside from the creation of beautiful handmade pieces, is the use of agricultural-based puns. We’re so grapeful that we had the opportunity to share the process of growing, maintaining, and harvesting our grape vineyards with Lauren. Paper Farm Press has graciously extended a 15% discount to friends of HMC Farms for all of their products, including the “Grapeful for You” collection, with code GRAPEFUL15.
The women’s group at HMC Farms, which we refer to as the Ladies of HMC, blends activities from professional development to teambuilding and community service events. One such service event was at Terry’s House in Fresno. Terry’s House, named in honor of Terry Richards, is across the street from Community Regional Medical Center in Downtown Fresno. It is a place where family members of patients in critical care units at Community Regional Medical Center can sleep, eat, and find a peaceful moment during a difficult time. The facilities at Terry’s House include 20 private guest rooms with private bathrooms, a laundry facility, computer center, shared kitchen and dining area, and more. For families traveling from outside the Fresno area, and often having to stay for an extended period of time, Terry’s House is a much needed resource.
With several service and donation options available, the Ladies of HMC took action in two areas: care packages and meal service. The group made care packages with toiletries and everyday supplies donated by HMC Farms, these packages included items like toothbrushes and deodorant – things that people staying at Terry’s House might need when unexpectedly away from home – as well as community items like coffee and creamer. After the care packages were made, it was time for meal service. Women from across different departments at HMC Farms joined forces to participate in meal-prep at our main office, and eleven of those women drove to Fresno to cook and serve meals to residents of Terry’s House from its well-equipped kitchen. In addition to serving the meal, there was an opportunity to talk to several families in the middle of stays at the facility. They shared their stories with our group, and were very gracious for both the meal that was served to them and Terry’s House for being a ray of sunshine in the storm. The service event was fun and rewarding, and we look forward to volunteering at Terry’s House again in the future!
For some time, the Central California Food Bank has been operating at maximum capacity. Through many generous donations, the CCFB was finally able to move into a new 140,000 square foot distribution facility in Fresno. Aside from our regular fruit donations to the food bank, Harold McClarty and family donated funds to the new facility, which led to the McClarty Family Training Room being named in their honor.
In 2016-2017, the Central California Food Bank, previously known as the Community Food Bank, helped 280,000 people per month through food distributions, meal recovery programs, and school sites. For more info on the CCFB and its mission to feed the hungry in the Central Valley, click here.