Mar 18, 2021Side Delights Network example of longevity of family farms
The Side Delights Network of family-owned farms is vigilantly integrating the next generation into the potato business.
2021 trends show that “The locally grown produce movement starts to come of age,” as stated in the article on Top Seven Trends for Fresh Produce in 2021. Also in the forefront are family farms which, according to the USDA, “are vital to our economy and well-being as a nation, supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of rural and farm economies, while protecting and enhancing natural resources and the environment.”
Side Delights potatoes are exclusively sourced from the Fresh Solutions Network of independent, family-owned farms that grow, pack, sell and deliver fresh potatoes across the U.S. and Canada. Collectively, these farms represent 17 generations of farmers.
Some of the Fresh Solutions Network farms have been running their businesses for centuries. The most extended generational farming family is Sterman Masser, an eighth-generation Pennsylvania farming family.
“Our ninth generation is already involved in the farm through our summer intern program. We are thrilled to have more sales and marketing talent coming up through the ranks,” said Dave Masser of Sterman Masser Farms.
“We are currently integrating our fourth generation into the operation with the fifth generation in preschool,” said Kathy Michael Sponheim of Michael Family Farms of Urbana, Ohio.
In Idaho, “We are fourth-generation farmers, and the fifth generation in our family is now involved in our operation across all disciplines of operations, sales, marketing, and seed,” said Jill Cox of Sun-Glo of Idaho. “We encourage the next generation to get an education before coming back to the farm, so they have something to add to the business if they want to continue working on the family farm. We are very excited about the next generation; they are very eager to learn and contribute.”
Molly Connors of Basin Gold Co-Op in Pasco, Washington, added, “Basin Gold is family-owned, and so are all of our member operations. We are all multi-generational family companies, and we actively encourage the next generation(s) to take an interest in farming.”
NoKota Packers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota has been growing potatoes for 40 years and is also expanding the family business. “A couple of our growers have recently begun farming with their next-generation (third, fourth and fifth generations),” said Carissa Olsen, president and CEO of NoKota Packers. (For more on Olsen and NoKota Packers, see episode 6 of Spudman’s “The Potato Field podcast.)
Chandler Mack of Mack Farms proudly described the possibility of bringing his children into the business as third generation farmers, “It is still too early to know for sure, but my son drives a tractor like a race car driver! Not bad for a 6-year-old!”
“Given our attachment to the farms, ‘Grown Where it Matters’ is more than a marketing mantra. It embodies the core value of growing Side Delights potatoes, and who grows it is just as important. All of our potatoes are grown by our select group of family-owned growers and shippers who choose to work together to make the potato industry better for everyone,” said Kathleen Triou, president and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “We work within our network of farmers, and with their families, to drive profitable category growth for our customers, brand awareness, and shopper excitement, while providing the highest quality, best-tasting potato products possible for consumers.”
For more information on Side Delights products, programs and recipes, visit SideDelights.com and GrownWhereItMatters.com . For more information on the partners of Fresh Solutions Network, visit www.FreshSolutionsNet.com.
Top photo: Keith Masser (right), chairman and CEO of Sterman Masser Potato Farms, talks to Penn State agribusiness management students as Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, looks on. Photo: Sarah Giegerich