From the time he was born, our President and CEO, Jim Reed, was raised as a farmer and encouraged to be an innovator. But it comes as no surprise when you realize farming and his “interest in progress” is in his DNA.
Jim’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Harmon Talley Reed, was born in 1838, and after the Civil War he was digging a water well on his farm in Ohio and struck oil instead. “He made money from oil, sold the oil wells and invested in Iowa farmland.” Harmon did quite well with his farming pursuit and by 1872, “was the owner of a great deal of land. He owned land on which he laid out the town site of Monteith, Iowa when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific went through in 1881." But Harmon wasn't done...
“Harmon and a partner invested in silver mine at Leadville, Colorado. When the mine came in rich, he and his wife, Louisa went to Leadville. It was a wild frontier town. Harmon lost one eye in a mine accident. The two traveled back and forth between Colorado and Iowa and finally brought their family to Leadville. On one occasion Louisa and the children were on the train when it was stopped by robbers, the women and children were told they would not be harmed if they kept quiet.
Next they moved to the Grand Valley, near Palisade, Colorado, where Harmon had peach orchards. He was influential in getting irrigation started, and was director of a bank.” “Later they moved to California where he developed lemon orchards at Whittier.” Thus began the "citrus roots" of the family tradition.
Jim’s father, Bill, had started his farming career as a potato farmer in the San Joaquin Valley. But as mechanical harvesting of potatoes began and the dynamics of the agricultural industry were changing, the prospects of growing citrus arose. As a youth, Jim started doing the jobs that must be done in the fields and groves each day. Farming is not about Child Labor Laws; farming is a lifestyle the entire family embraces.
While completing his agricultural degrees at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Jim began his own farming career. However, the first crop of his own agricultural endeavor wasn’t quite as planned: Jim planted 2 fields of non-irrigated “dry-land” farmed Barley during what turned out to be the driest of the past 54 years in San Luis Obispo County! It was back to the drawing board.
Fortunately, his farming “luck” went uphill from those first ventures and over a period of time, Jim became well entrenched in all aspects of citrus: planting and developing citrus groves, farming, packing, shipping, and marketing.
In 2009, Jim Reed handed this portion of the business to his son Mark Reed, who continues to carry on the by-products business. Today, Jim's focus has turned back to the "roots" of farming that run deep in the family tree and the inherent trait to seek out new opportunities.
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Sunburst Packing Co.
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA 93257