MEET THE GROWERS

“Our business depends on our growers, and our relationships with them.”
– Paul David Bedrosian

We started National Raisin with the goal of producing the world’s finest dried fruit. Since then we’ve had the privilege of surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals.  The world’s best agricultural minds come from California, and we’re proud to say we work with California’s best. Let’s meet some of the people who feed the world.

 

Let’s meet some of the people who feed the world…

Kevin Herman

Madera, CA – Figs

In an industry that prides itself on tradition, Kevin Herman is an artist.  His agricultural canvas stretches over 8,000 acres across the Madera and Merced counties, growing anything from almonds to goji berries. There is one fruit, however, that Kevin is undoubtedly tied to – and that’s figs. Kevin currently manages about half of the entire fig industry and has been a key thought leader for the commodity, twice serving as the chairman of the board.     

Most days you can find Kevin cruising through the orchards in his white truck, kicking up gravel to the tunes of James Brown and Tower of Power. Other days you can find him experimenting with a small specialty crop, assessing its potential as a new market item.

Initially, Kevin worked for various farming companies throughout the region before eventually starting his own business, which he named The Specialty Crop Company. As its name would suggest, the company deals with a wide variety of crops, many of them unique to the area.

For Kevin, farming is the ultimate form of skilled gambling – where it takes a combination of experience and creativity to navigate the endless variables. Let’s just say Kevin has become well accustomed to hitting jackpots. So much so that Kevin has become a go-to consultant for many private orchard owners, even managing some of their crops himself.

As most farmers will tell you, there’s an intrinsic quality to growing, one that can’t just be learned vicariously through books or websites. As a third generation farmer Kevin has the benefit of decades of shared wisdom and a “knack” for getting the most out of his crops. On the other hand, Kevin also possesses a natural sense of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. There’s hardly a new method, case study or breakthrough in the industry that he’s not aware of.

When free time makes a rare appearance in Kevin’s schedule, he enjoys spending it with his family. Married to his high school sweetheart, Kevin is also the father to a son who recently graduated Fresno State and a daughter who is heading to the University of Southern California – which provides more than enough incentive to continue working hard and growing his business.

Nick Nigosion

Coachella, CA – Dates

“Quality is the most important thing, without it you have nothing.”

Nick is obsessed with quality – the quality of his fruit, the quality of his work, the quality of his cars, and perhaps most importantly the quality of his jokes.

Nick learned the art of date growing from his father, who planted his first trees in 1956. His father developed the date business in Coachella, CA while simultaneously running a clothing operation in Los Angeles. Despite the divided attention, Nick’s father was extremely successful in both ventures, leaving a platform that Nick would eventually catapult into the next realm. In 1970 Nick took over the date business, growing it to over 6 times its original size.

Currently, Nick holds an advisor/supplier role with National Raisin Company. As a grower, Nick has an expectation for exceptional fruit. There is no gray area in his mind, the fruit is either the highest quality or it’s unacceptable. In addition to overseeing his own fruit, Nick also serves as quality assurance for incoming dates from other growers in the region. His stringency for quality can be frustrating to those looking to pass his inspection, but it also means his seal of approval provides unparalleled assurance. 

When Nick’s not inspecting every millimeter of his fruit, you can find him touching up his collection of classic cars. This is a passion he shares with his son Michael. Spend enough time around Nick and you’re guaranteed to hear him discussing potential purchases over the phone, speaking a language consisting of various numbers and letters related to horsepower, make, model and price.

Jim & Lucille

Porterville, CA – Organic Prunes

You’ll hear Jim and Lucille before you ever see them, their contagious laughter always preceding their presence. If you ever have the pleasure of visiting them you’ll be greeted by a number of things – smiles, hugs, a nice seat, a cold drink, and some freshly dried organic prunes to snack on. Depending how mischievous they’re feeling you may even be offered a calamondin – a devious fruit with all the appearances of an orange and the surprising taste of a lime. Newcomers beware.

The two of them have been laughing and growing for over 55 years now. For them, the workplace and home are intertwined. Their house is nestled in the center of their organic orchards, which makes “clocking-in” as simple as opening the back door.

But it’s not just their home that is surrounded by agriculture; it’s their lives. Lucille was driving tractors before she could drive a car, and Jim grew up harvesting everything from alfalfa to oysters. Today, most of their spare time is spent caring for their personal garden or attending board meetings related to California agriculture. You may see a common theme here.

This isn’t to say they don’t have lives outside of agriculture. The two have raised an amazing family, which includes four great grandchildren – the only fruits they intentionally spoil. Their children run a successful youth camp close by. Much like farming the rewards there are as much spiritual as they are financial. So whether it’s their orchards or their family, Jim and Lucille are constantly growing, with plenty of humor to follow. Laughing and growing – that’s what they do best.

DID YOU KNOW...

We have growers that have delivered their raisins to us since day one in 1969. That’s over 47 years of partnership!