Family owned and operated for more than 100 years, Driscoll’s is passionate about growing great berries. The tradition of family farming endures to this day as brothers Miles and Garland Reiter (grandsons of one of Driscoll’s founder, Joseph “Ed” Reiter) continue the commitment to growing the freshest, sweetest berries available year ‘round.
Now comes a new generation of family growers. Meet Garland Reiter Jr., middle son of Garland Reiter, who continues to pioneer new geographies as a farmer in Baja California, Mexico. Hear his story about growing Only The Finest Berries™ and what it is like to come from a heritage of farmers
My name is Garland Sydnor Reiter Jr. and I am the middle child of three rambunctious boys. I have been working around and for Driscoll’s my entire life, ranging from loading crates onto trucks, to a Human Resources intern, and now a farmer in Mexico. I have been down here in Baja California, Mexico for the past three years as a Driscoll’s grower, producing Raspberries, Strawberries, and Organic Strawberries.
My initial plan was one year; however, Mexico seduced me and now after three years, with a strong foundation in farming and a solid understanding of Spanish, I feel it is time to meet other challenges.
My earliest memory would probably be helping my mom sell berries in her fruit stand right next to my dad’s field in Oxnard, California. It is funny to reflect that at such a young age, we were truly a family run company; with my dad producing the fruit, my mother selling, and my brothers and I running the marketing department (cute berry outfits and signs).
Honestly it was never a given, in fact my appreciation for the art of farming did not mature until I myself became one. This job is not for the lighthearted as we often work weekends and long hours, all in chase of the perfect berry, the perfect season. My father and uncle’s passion to produce only the finest berries has led us to be the biggest fresh berry company in the world, and my desire to aid them and Driscoll’s amazing team is resolute.
Berries, most specifically strawberries and raspberries, are sensitive plants that are constantly demanding oversight, and if not properly attended to will simply not flourish. Fertilization, pest management, labor detail, and harvesting are being tweaked on a daily basis due to plant needs and pest population. Thus, knowing and reacting to the plant’s need in a timely fashion is the hardest challenge of growing berries.
In most jobs the employee never actually touches or sees the final product, and if they do, it is for a very limited amount of time. Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of farming is being able to watch and control the growth of a plant, understanding it and watching over it, until it produces a product which brings enjoyment to every consumer. I am always amazed at how people are drawn to berries, whether it is my Instagram photos, or the actual consumption of the berries, one thing is certain: people love Driscoll’s berries.
Driscoll’s genetics are entirely different from our competitors, our all-natural traditional breeding process has created the finest berries in the world - no GMOs. Couple our patented varieties with our logistics, marketing, sales, and I really believe Driscoll’s is the number one berry company in the world.
What has drawn me to this industry is how often things change, day-to-day, week-to-week, and even year-to-year: nothing is the same. Farming demands you to think on the go, and punishes you if you are unable to do so. The only constant is that the plants and fruit will not wait, so attending to them is always the first order of business.
Berries are one of the most perishable fruits in the world, and we hope the consumers understand the attention to detail we put into ours field: if the berries are not picked at the perfect time, they will not pass Driscoll’s standards, and thus will never reach our consumers. Every berry is picked with care, and while this may sound cliché, I assure you we work as hard as possible to send our best berries to our consumers.