Coke Farm Celebrates 40th Anniversary in Certified Organics and More; Olivier Griss and Lawrence Henrard Comment
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CA - The beauty of success is that, at its very root, it is a mindset. To ensure decades of such achievement takes strength, a progressive outlook, and perseverance—elements that Coke Farm brings to the table every day. As the second half of 2021 gains ground, the trailblazing California farm is celebrating its 40th anniversary in certified organics and pulling back the curtain on what it takes to succeed today and in the future.
“In 2021, we are celebrating our amazing anniversary by continuing our mission to grow with purpose, expanding on what we’ve accomplished with our grower community and valued customers for over 40 years,” Olivier Griss, Sales Manager, shares with me. “With a grower mentality in operations, there is high value in giving back to our community through supporting small family agriculture, minority and women-owned farms, and giving back to our environment through our farming practices and an increased commitment to sustainable packaging.”
With such strong values at play as an organic grower/shipper/handler of over 300 product SKUs of fruits and vegetables, Coke Farm is ensuring the company can sustain and elevate its growth today and in the coming years.
“We continue to invest in ourselves and have increased post-harvest technology and doubled our cooler storage capacity. These investments will increase our ability to support our customers and grower partners,” Lawrence Henrard, General Manager, expresses as he looks at the long-term strategy of the year-round, nationally distributed Coke Farm portfolio.
This long-game outlook is one that can be traced back to the very roots of the company. In 1981, Dale Coke started solo with a progressive vision to become a food hub for California’s Central Coast, and with only a small quarter-acre parcel of organic land in San Juan Bautista, California. Dale aimed to prove his success in 100 percent organic farming and quickly began to make his mark as one of the first California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and the first certified for organic strawberries—the crop that started it all for Coke Farm.
Dale grew his vision of supporting other small organic farmers by selling their crops along with his. More growers gravitated toward the program and, today, Coke Farm is comprised of more than 85 grower partners, over 4,000 acres of organic farmland, and more than 120 common and specialty items.
“Our growers are our lifeblood and are compensated at a high level, supporting the next generation of farming families in our communities,” Lawrence tells me. “Our goal today encompasses the vision of curating a ‘best of the best’ one-stop-shop of a large variety of common and specialty products, providing centralized storage, processing, distribution, and a marketing center for small- to mid-size farms. This vision is doubling our capacity and our potential.”
Coke Farm’s grower footprint now expands in California from San Juan Bautista (San Benito County) to Santa Cruz County and Monterey Counties, and as well as the Central Valley and desert in the winter months.
“We have a strong alignment between operations and sales, inspiring excellent customer service,” Olivier says, noting that Coke Farm has been recognized as a Bay Area food hub for about 20 years by Bay Area accounts. “Our customers believe strongly in organics and supporting the community full-circle. We often hear them say our produce is ‘like it was farmed right in our own backyards.’”
With the goal of continuing to grow its footprint in chain and natural food stores, wholesale distribution, foodservice, institutions, home delivery, processing, community services, and non-profits, Coke Farm sees no cap on the company’s potential. And neither do we.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the company's history and vision for the future of organics, be sure to stop by booth #249 at the Organic Produce Summit.
Congratulations, Coke Farm, on this milestone 40th anniversary, and cheers to many more!