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Nardelli Bros. battling Mother Nature

By
Keith Loria

When spring comes around, it’s the busiest time of year for Nardelli Bros. Inc.-Lakeview Farms, a fifth-generation family business that has been around for more than 120 years.

“It’s been a long winter and we are very anxious to get started as always,” said Bill Nardelli Sr., president of the Cedarville, NJ-based company. “We continue running all winter long, but the production is always a lot slower during that time, and the weather has been quite the challenge throughout these winter months this year in many parts of the country, including Florida, Mexico and the Carolinas.”

Nardelli is happy with what the 2022 spring season has been in its early days, though a cold spell in late March that hit Georgia and South Florida has slowed early production down for a bit. The rain that came in January caused some gaps in the company’s planting schedule, and that has caused some Florida shortages in early April.

“Corn is extremely tight, pepper is light, but the market is finally starting to pick up a little bit,” Nardelli said. “We’ve had some gaps in beans, but all of this looks to be straightening out as we go forward. We probably have another week of spotty supply, and then it looks like we will be fairly consistent from there on in.”

Up the rest of the coast, Georgia has also seen some damage to early crops such as squash, peppers and watermelon due to weather, with Nardelli noting the state hasn’t experienced that kind of cold this late in the season for quite some time.

“That’s going to create some gaps going forward,” he said. “We are able to continue to transplant, but it does take your volume down a little bit. But for the most part, the heartier stuff looks really good. A new crop of cabbage looks really good and some of the lettuces are coming along really nicely, as well as parsley.”

With the transition of spring, the growing season will move from South Florida to Central and Northern Florida, and then up to Georgia all the way to New Jersey.

“Mother Nature has been following us around a little bit, as we’ve had some cold nights here in New Jersey, and we saw some damage here, and that’s going to affect us here with some of the more tender things,” Nardelli said. “It’s all things that we think we can recover from.”

Another challenge the company faces includes labor, and finding people has been harder than ever.

“We’re always struggling to get harvest people, to shipping to packing, as are many in the industry, and any industry really.” Nardelli said. “As a whole, the country is raising their wages, the cost of gas to get to work is also a challenge, so even though you are paying more, your employee might be ending up with less.”

The company tries to stay as efficient as it can, with Nardelli noting the consumer can only absorb so much in their budget, but the company is facing rising costs of their own.

“Our budgets continue to go up,” he said. “Our fertilizer has doubled, our materials have doubled in cost, some of our packing materials have tripled in cost, plus labor is up. Then there’s cost of fuel, which affects every aspect of our growing operation, and that’s up. We’re kind of boxing ourselves in and we’re in a bad situation because our costs are going up and the consumers may not have the money to buy them.”

So, during this very uncertain time, the company is adapting as growers, and Nardelli knows it will continue to do what has helped them be successful the best they can.

“This is what the American farmer does —we make it happen and feed people, and it’s what my family has done for 125 years,” he said. “We’re always looking for new innovation.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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