While it’s always interesting to learn about technological advances and tasty new varieties hitting the market, some of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had in the produce industry have been the one-on-one interactions with industry members. As with many small businesses, it’s often the person behind the produce brand or company that propels it to success.

This is part of the appeal of a farmers market — consumers get to buy the produce from someone who has had his or her hand in growing it. And grocers have been sharing more about the people behind the produce at their stores. Now, you know that you’re buying lettuce that John Bonner of Great Lakes Growers grew, because his face and company name are on the “Meet the Grower” sign on the display at Heinen’s, a local Cleveland grocer.

Lettuce Work program director Julie Sharp is featured on the nonprofit’s produce.
Photo courtesy of Doug Sharp

In this issue, we’re also keeping the focus on the people behind the produce, from those who research best production practices to those who grow it to those who help market and sell it. In our inaugural People in Produce section, we bring you 10 produce industry professionals who are influencing different segments of the industry, including a mushroom grower, a researcher, an industry marketer and a tech guru.

If you have questions about how you can develop leaders and the next People in Produce within your own company, you won’t want to miss Leslie Halleck’s column. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing both the strengths and weaknesses of your employees, and involving other, more senior staff members in mentoring these rising stars.

When you’re ready to turn back to production, check out Christopher Currey’s Hydroponic Production Pointer about best harvest and postharvest practices and Steven Frank’s top three most-dreaded pepper pests.

Happy Fall!

kvarga@gie.net | (216) 393-0290

Twitter: @Karen_GIE