The Fanfare of the Harvest
Before harvest, our fruits and veggies are checked for taste, ripeness, color and firmness so they’re picked at just the right time to make the very best food for your little one. That way, they taste naturally delicious with NO need for artificial colors or flavors, and they’re always unsweetened and unsalted.
For Gerber growers, there’s no time more exciting than the harvest — particularly the pea harvest. It’s the moment Gerber's Agriculture Team and farmers have been planning for months. We spoke with Chris Falak, an expert on the team, about everything that goes into picking the perfect pea.
In March, when the winter frost retreats from the stretch of western Michigan known as the Fruit Belt, and soil temperatures finally crawl above 40 degrees, it is time to plant peas.
Peas are a precious crop. Too much rain will spoil them. So, too, summer heat. It’s no wonder that, around the clock, farmers who grow for Gerber anticipate the arrival of these delicious, little pearls.
Years of growing tells them that no harvest is the same. Even the day of the harvest is an adventure. When it comes to peas, a matter of hours can draw the line between the perfect pea and a field that isn’t good enough for Gerber.
Gerber knows peas
Before Gerber even started making baby food, it was canning peas grown by farmers local to Fremont, a town of about 4,000 people in the heart of the Fruit Belt. Gerber, back then, was known as the Fremont Canning Company.
Now, the operation is much larger — over 50 different fields were growing peas for Gerber this past summer — but no less dramatic.
Leading up to the harvest, Gerber’s Agriculture Team is checking in with Gerber growers every week. Pinpointing when to harvest can start with sharing a taste test on the farm.
But it doesn’t end there. The process of harvesting peas can be as delicate as the peas themselves. Ever heard of a tenderometer? It’s a gauge that tests for softness. Finding the perfect level of tender for tender tummies lets the team know that it’s time to harvest.
The day of the harvest
Each pea harvest begins with a call from Chris Falak, the leader of Gerber’s Agriculture Team, to a Gerber grower. Get ready, he’ll alert farmers, because the peas are.
Before the clock strikes 6 a.m. on the day of harvest, the harvesting crew is in place. The route into and out of the farm for trucks packed with freshly plucked peas has already been determined. If the harvest needs to happen quickly, to beat out a storm, extra bodies will be out in the fields.
A successful harvest results in truckloads of peas that are pearl-sized, tender and a lush hue of green. The Gerber kitchen in Fremont, just a drive away, is awaiting their arrival.
When the last truck leaves a farm after a harvest, Falak, his crew and the farmers finally have a chance to exhale. A dramatic day ends with a pat on the back, a handshake — maybe even a hug — and the knowledge that plenty of high-quality peas have begun their journey to Gerber babies everywhere.