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Georgia plays key role for Smith’s Farms’ year-round supplies

By
John Groh

Smith’s Farm, a leading broccoli and cauliflower grower headquartered in Presque Isle, ME, has come to rely on Georgia to bridge the gap in its East Coast supply.

Tara Smith Vighetti, a partner in the family-owned business, said the company has been growing product in Florida for some time but began growing product in Georgia five years ago, and it is now hitting its stride in production.

broccoli“Our Florida production is wrapping up this week, and we will immediately transition to Georgia, which will allow for seamless supplies for our customers,” Vighetti said April 13.

The company’s Georgia deal has relatively small windows in both the fall and spring, bridging the Maine and Florida seasons. Yet the small windows pay enormous dividends, as they enable Smith to offer year-round supplies from the East Coast.

“That is very important to our loyal customers — and to us as well,” said Vighetti. “For our customers, they can rely on us as their main supplier, and they don’t have to source from the West Coast and pay higher freight rates. For us, it allows us to maintain our consistency of supply and the integrity of our brand.”

In Georgia, it’s taken a bit of time to dial in to the right formula for success, said Vighetti, but its expertise as a grower has been key in navigating the process. In fact, production in the state is expected to be double what it was in 2020.

“We’ve not only increased our acreage in Georgia, we’ve increased the number of varieties in trials to pinpoint the ones that will produce the best quality and yields,” she said. “We now have a lot of different varieties in production so that we don’t have all our eggs in one basket, so to speak. If we have an issue on one lot or with one variety, we can move elsewhere to harvest.”

Vighetti also cited Smith’s strong relationship with its Georgia partners as a key to its ongoing success.

“We’re experts in the field and have perfected all aspects of the growing, harvesting and cooling processes, but our relationships with our partners serve as a cultural anchor and help us secure enough land base and access to local resources,” she said. “Additionally, we’re aligned in our value system and have the same philosophy when it comes to food safety, worker safety and other matters. Honestly, this is just the beginning, and we see great potential for years to come in Georgia.”

Vighetti also recognized the importance of Smith’s loyal customers and the role they play in the success of the company.

“We are extremely grateful for our retail partners, and their loyalty was key for us during a challenging year with the pandemic,” she said.

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