One Year Later: An open letter from Sarah McClarty

One Year Later: An Open Letter from Sarah McClarty, HMC Farms

Twelve months ago, I wrote an open letter to give an update on how HMC Farms was dealing with the pandemic. I was asked to write a follow-up piece once everything “settled back down” in a few weeks, which became a few months… fast forward to a full year removed from that letter, and things are still far from settled.

Something people often do not understand is that there is no rest in agriculture. Beyond farming being an all-consuming way of life, there is no pause button. If you are sick, the plum trees don’t prune themselves and the grapes don’t stop growing. If we miss a harvest by a window of even a few hours, we risk losing an entire block of peaches.

When you already work in an industry with no pause button and then must deal with new rules and regulations overnight, it is exhausting. Being an essential business is a privilege, but also a burden.

Over the past year, there have been several instances when a compliance deadline for a new rule or regulation was approaching with no formal guidance or FAQs from the issuing body, which meant we put our normal jobs aside to digest the new rules and create our own policies to be in compliance.

We did not have the ability to close the office for a short time to get this done. Instead, it meant working on these special projects all day (or week) and then starting in on our regular job duties when the workday would normally be ending. It also meant waking up in the middle of the night thinking about an angle that hadn’t been considered.

Photo of CFO Sarah McClarty wearing a blue and white checkered shirt in a peach orchard with quote: For the last year, owning and operating a vertically integrated farming organization has meant laughing at the idea of being able to take a day off. It has meant being tired all the time; it has meant no rest.

For the last year, owning and operating a vertically integrated farming organization has meant laughing at the idea of being able to take a day off. It has meant being tired all the time; it has meant no rest.

We, as owners and management, are not the only tired ones, so are our employees. Working in the field or a packing house is arduous work. Having to go home after a long day of work to help children do schoolwork, worry about being around vulnerable family members, and dealing with the burden of a global pandemic has weighed heavily on them too.

Our employees are our family, and not being able to give them answers or put all their worries to rest is hard. We have been able to offer them continued access to our free health care clinic, which included same-day appointments for COVID tests when everywhere else had a 3-5 day wait to get an appointment. We have also had the benefit of working with the California Farmworker Foundation to be one of the first sites in California to give on-site (literally right on the farm) vaccines to farmworkers in early February, and then again to any employees in our organization that wanted them a few weeks later. So many people left the building after receiving their vaccine smiling, thanking us for getting the vaccines to them, and in general, being able to finally put their minds at ease. In all honesty, seeing that weight lifted from their shoulders was the highlight of the past year for me.

Just like last year when I wrote the letter, we are approaching our harvest season, which again brings a lot of questions and unknowns. We have raised wages. Packaging has even longer lead times and higher costs. We are spending more money on PPE, increased sanitary measures, testing, and contact tracing; all while losing efficiencies because of the priority we put on safely distancing employees.

Most of our retail customers are not willing to pay more for our products, even though it is costing us more to produce them and the outlook for the foodservice industry is still full of question marks. Crunching those numbers keeps me up at night.

A year without rest is hard, but we believe in what we do and are dedicated to growing the best fruit we can. As always, we will get creative in the solutions we offer our customers and put our employees’ best interests at the forefront of our decision-making. Hopefully someday soon I can write that “settled back down” update and take a vacation, but for now we will be doing our best to get fresh fruit on people’s tables all summer long.

Photo of CFO Sarah McClarty wearing a blue and white checkered shirt in a peach orchard with text that reads: one year later, an open letter from Sarah McClarty at HMC Farms

Note from The Produce Moms original blog post featuring Sarah’s letter:

One year ago, The Produce Moms Covid-19 content series provided our community of consumer followers with perspectives and real-life stories from the agriculture supply chain.  In our series, we posted a guest blog authored by Sarah McClarty, Chief Financial Officer and Co-Owner of HMC Farms.  You can read it here.

Rooting back to 1887, HMC Farms is a multi-generation family farm located in California’s Central Valley. HMC Farms is a leading grower in table grapes and tree fruit including peaches, plums, nectarines and plumcots.

HMC Farms is a leader in bringing fresh produce to schools.  You can learn more about their commitment to schools at And you can learn more about the family farm at

HMC Farms and The Produce Moms have been brand partners for nearly 4 years.  We are so passionate about what they do and the delicious fruit that they grow. Enjoy this reflective letter from Sarah, one year later.

HMC Farms COVID-19 Vaccinations Press Release



HMC Farms Delivers COVID-19 Vaccinations to Agriculture Workers 


Kingsburg, California – HMC Farms is excited to announce the successful distribution of 450 COVID-19 vaccines to agricultural employees in California’s Central Valley. 


HMC Farms recently hosted vaccination clinics which distributed hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines to employees of HMC and several nearby businesses in the ag industry. More vaccinations are on the way as the first recipients near the second dose time frame.

HMC Farms is a family owned and operated business, and the McClarty family values their employees as an extension of that family. Sarah McClarty, Chief Financial Officer of HMC Farms, stated at the event, “To watch every employee in our organization who wants a vaccine receive one over the last two days has been the biggest win in what has been an extremely challenging twelve months. Partnerships with the California Farmworker Foundation and Elite Medical that were in place prior to the pandemic have played a huge part in HMC’s continued efforts to support our employees’ health and well-being, and are what made this week’s event possible.”

At the vaccination event, it was clear to see that people were relieved to have vaccines available to them. Several employees were seen having their photos taken while receiving the vaccine to share with friends and family. “This is such a relief,” said one employee as she received her shot. Another employee commented, “The distribution process for vaccines has been confusing. It’s so helpful that HMC was willing and able to bring vaccinations directly to us.” 


The past year has been difficult for people and industries around the globe, and the ag industry has felt the weight of keeping employees safe and healthy while maintaining the food supply. Speaking about the partnership with the California Farmworker Foundation which helped make the vaccination even possible, Harold McClarty, owner and Chief Executive Officer of HMC Farms, expressed gratitude. “We have all struggled during these very difficult times,” said McClarty. “We are very grateful and supportive of all the work that this organization has done for farmworkers. It gives us some hope that we will persevere and continue to move forward with our work to support the nation’s food supply.”


HMC Farms is located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, and has been family owned and operated since 1887. All of their produce is grown sustainably, protecting the land, water, and people who make it possible to deliver delicious peaches, plums, nectarines, and table grapes year after year. To learn more, visit  




HMC News – December 18, 2019

Heart of Ag Wellness Center is now open! Heart of Ag is a private medical facility which HMC Farms employees can use at no charge. The center provides a wide range of basic healthcare services from flu shots to annual physicals and much more. The ribbon cutting ceremony drew in special guests, including Assemblymen Joaquin Arambula and Devon Mathis, representatives from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and State Senator Melissa Hurtado’s offices, and the mayor of Selma. With the ever-changing landscape of healthcare in the United States, we are excited to offer this opportunity to our employees!

Crop Update:

Pruning remains ongoing in our tree fruit orchards. Rain cover removal continues in our grape vineyards to prepare for pruning to begin within a couple of weeks. The forecast shows overnight lows cool enough for our dormant trees and vines to get some chill hours – we’ll touch on this more when we return in 2020.

5 Facts About Peaches

It’s the last day of National Peach Month, and we’ve got some fun facts about peaches for you!

Click here to download the PDF version of 5 facts about peaches.