A group of us produce lovers from Lunds and Byerly’s recently had the privilege of travelling to California to attend “Driscoll’s University.” Driscoll’s, our primary berry provider, led our group on a two-day program to educate us on their extensive and remarkable berry operations. This included tours of nurseries, breeding facilities, ranches and distribution facilities.
I was blown away by the passion and commitment to excellence in every aspect of their operations. The entire experience was amazing, but I just wanted to share a few things about Driscoll’s that really stood out and impressed me.
Driscoll’s is an innovative and forward-thinking organization. For example, Driscoll’s uses natural cross-pollination techniques to create new seed varieties. They test thousands of potential varieties each year, but only about 1% is selected to farm and sell. In addition to testing for flavor, they also look for plant varieties that are naturally resistant to disease to eliminate the need for agricultural inputs in the field. One organic berry farmer we spoke with explained how they study the plants to find the precise amount of water they need, rather than just overwatering the plants to make sure they have enough.
I’m no Driscoll’s farmer, but I do have some raspberry plants in my back yard. I water and prune them, just hoping to get some fruit each year. Although Driscoll’s berries are essentially grown the same way, the attention to detail that goes into each step of the berry growing process is truly remarkable. These farmers really understand how to get the best out of each berry plant. From breeding to soil preparation to the time the berries are inspected and shipped, great care is taken to ensure only the finest berries are harvested and packaged.
What I was most impressed by is the passion everyone has for what they do. No matter what their role is in the process, it was easy to see everyone shares the same love for growing the finest berries in the world.
After this trip, I definitely have a new appreciation for the passion, expertise and dedication it takes to grow great berries. I guess they don’t just stick them in the ground and spray them with the hose like I do with mine.
Now that I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about Driscoll’s, I’m even more proud to carry their berries in my produce department. Come on in and check them out!
Written by: Tim Domini, Lunds 50th Street produce manager