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Torrey Farms keeps it real

ELBA, NY — The roots of Torrey Farms run deep for good reason. For more than 300 years the 12-generation enterprise has thrived on about 15,000 acres that roams parts of Genesee County here, representing heritage, family/employee value, commitment to quality and clinging to the farm motto set in the 1800s — “Our Word Is Our Bond.”

“Staying true to those words,” Shannon Kyle said, “has maintained strong business partnerships and many long-time customers who have helped us grow our business and expand our market base. It has been key to our operations base.” Kyle, who primarily is in sales, is just one of the nine offspring of modern-day who operate the integrated farm from growing, harvesting and distributing.

The 11th-generation family members include three siblings — brothers John and Mark, who oversee the growing, field operations, harvesting and packing operations for all commodities, and their sister, Maureen, who handles all of the sales and marketing, financial and human resource. Mark has six children — Molly, Travis, Lucas, Jed and Maxwell, as well as Shannon. Their talents complement each other, and the history of the farm helps keep their perspectives that lead to continued successes in a family environment, Kyle said.

Even though there is a strong family presence by inheritance, the true value is all the employees have a sense of a family unit, which helps the company maintain quality and consistency, she said. Seasonal workers return, and many employees have worked for decades. Annie Youngfleisch, who oversees shipping and handling, for example, has been with the farm for 35 years. During the summer/early fall months in New York, from July through October, the farm ships green, red and savoy cabbage, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash.

In late July/early August they start shipping yellow and red transplanted onions. Starting in September, they have miniature pumpkins, acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti, kabocha and delicata squash. From late fall through the winter and spring months they store yellow and red onions, round white and yellow potatoes and green and red cabbage for shipment out of storage.

“We only pack what we grow ourselves making it a very clear channel to trace our produce forward to the customer who receives it and back to the field it was harvested from and to the employee who harvested it,” Torrey said. The unity of the people of the farm has been its salvation and will be its future.