Tracing Produce to its Roots
Tracing Produce to its Roots
We worry about where your little one’s food comes from, so you don’t have to. In fact, thanks to over 25 years of practice, we can trace 100% of our fruits and veggies not only to the farms where they are grown, but to the very fields. Like our locally grown green beans from the Andersen Brothers family farm, just 150 miles from our Gerber® kitchen.
If there’s one person who understands our obsession with tracking produce, it’s grower, Stephanie Kipp. She’s part of the next generation of growers on the Andersen Brothers farm— one of the many family run farms Gerber relies on for quality fruits and veggies. But Stephanie isn’t just a grower on a farm that's been in her family for over 100 years, she’s also a mom. And she wants nothing but the best for babies, including her own.
Stephanie Kipp is a caretaker. She looks after 1,500 acres on her family’s farm in Blanchard, a town of 1,200 people right in the center of Michigan, and raises green beans, peas and potatoes there, season after season. These vegetables are her own. She waters them, feeds them and keeps a close eye on them, making sure they’re growing as they should. It’s a non-stop job — weekends included — but before caring for her crops, she always begins the day caring for her kids.
Stephanie’s one-year-old son, Beau, has begun eating the foods his mother grows. Sometimes he’ll get peas and greens beans plucked right from the ground. But he also eats Gerber pouches. Stephanie knows what is — and isn’t — in Gerber foods because she is, in fact, a Gerber farmer. And she has a degree in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University.
Stephanie also knows Gerber keeps tabs on all of the produce that goes into its fruit and veggie purees. Every field is accounted for. Stephanie herself is responsible for recording key information about her fields — beginning with the date seeds were planted all the way through harvest — and working closely with Gerber to make sure her crops are raised just right.
So, when Stephanie feeds Beau, she knows what he’s getting, because she knows how deeply Gerber cares about using only fruits and veggies that are best for babies. It all points to a shared understanding not just of how to raise nutritious produce, but where it is going.
A hands-on approach to farming
Stephanie’s daily ritual starts with a familiar ride. Her white pickup truck rumbles down the road towards the Andersen Brothers Farm. Her great grandfather settled the 7,000-acre plot of sandy soil in 1913, upon his arrival from Denmark, and it has been producing vegetables for Gerber for nearly 25 years.
After a 10-minute drive, she turns off of the asphalt and the wheels of the pickup begin kicking up dirt until she reaches the fields. Stephanie likes to think of this corner of the farm as her garden, and like any good gardener she knows it intimately.
A Day in the Field with Stephanie
Stephanie Kipp knows her fields of green beans as if they are her backyard garden. Every day she inspects the rows, checking her crops to make sure they're growing right.
She’ll grab her tablet and wander the fields, inspecting the vegetables row by row, looking for any signs that her crops are in distress. She’ll take detailed notes on what she sees, which get automatically sent to Gerber. This logging is a part of the Gerber approval process for harvest.
Growing is a passion
Stephanie grew up on the family farm where she has now worked for nine years. She says “my passion in life is growing things. I take pride in knowing I put that seed in the soil and nurtured that plant throughout its growing life to make food for other people.”
“It’s pretty amazing to think about how many mouths touch the crops that came off your farm. I want to produce the best crop that I would feed my family.”