From our guest contributor, COO Ed Beckman.
If you’ve followed our blog, you’re well aware that Live Oak Farms is investing in our already successful Bell Pepper program. Now, two years after a multi-million-dollar modernization of our pack line in Le Grand, we’re expanding our operations to include the Coachella Valley, just south of Palm Springs, and into Kern County near Bakersfield. Why you ask? Are we moving away from Le Grand? The answer to the latter is a quick and resounding “No!”.
As to “why”, Le Grand has been our home for nine decades, but the time has come for Live Oak to offer quality Bell Peppers for more than just a short four months each year. As we move toward being able to offer Live Oak’s quality peppers throughout the year, the first step was to begin growing in what’s best described as the Southern California Desert, meaning, the Coachella Valley.
It’s quite the contrast, especially in the spring and late fall, when the days are sunny and warm in Coachella as compared to Le Grand, where it may be rainy or cold.
Over the last few years, a number of our customers have asked for Live Oak’s pepper program to expand. With that level of loyalty to guide us, this round of growth makes sense for our 91-year-old family business. We’ve teamed with a multi-generation farming family that calls Coachella home to team with our multi-generation farming family to make this happen. Our new Desert Oak label represents the contributions of each family to bring Live Oak peppers to market in the spring and fall.
For the coming year, our Coachella-grown Green Bells will be available from mid-April under our new Desert Oak brand and our Red Bells will be harvested in May, nearly three months earlier than last year. As Coachella winds down, we’ll transition to Kern County, then begin our regular Bell Pepper program out of Le Grand.
We will tell you now, there’s more to the story. And, throughout the summer we’ll be sharing more about the effort underway to further differentiate Live Oak’s quality peppers from all others. And, we’d like to say thanks to our customers for their encouragement and to our family of employees, who’re all working hard to make our first year in the Desert a success.