Harvest Time In Brentwood29 April 2017 Written by By Jessica Enos
Published in May 2017 Articles
Harvest Time is an association of farmers and other businesses associated with the Brentwood agricultural industry.
Harvest Time was started in 1976 with ten member farms and a board of directors that included such community icons as Jack Bloomfield, Tino Bacchini, Lee Laird, Gene Stonebarger Sr., and John Slatten. I joined the board last September. Steve Gursky is president. His dad was one of the founders.
Harvest Time is a volunteer organization. I’m a professional realtor and bring my marketing experience to bear on assisting Harvest Time with its mission of promoting local farms so the members can spend their time in actual farming. In particular, we are improving Brentwood’s agritourism industry by producing an annual educational farm trail map that describes our 50+ U-Pick stands and directs people to them. We distribute nearly 70,000 of these around the Bay Area. We also maintain a content-rich Harvest Time website as well as a smartphone app, both of which provide fully indexed information about individual farms and products as well as maps showing locations and directions for each farm, plus a calendar showing what products are available at which farms on any given month. The website alone gets more than 100,000 hits per year.
As a result of our advertising efforts, Brentwood has become a favored annual destination for more than 180,000 visitors. People from the South Bay, the Peninsula, the East Bay, and San Francisco make spring pilgrimages to our U-Picks for cherries, a variety of stone fruit, and other premium farm products. Other visitors come from as far away as the Philippines, Thailand, and other distant countries. One woman I have come to know personally lives in the area, but each year her family makes their May journey from Cambodia to spend a couple days visiting their favorite Brentwood U-Pick destinations.
Memorial Day weekend marks the traditional beginning of the Harvest Time cherry season. However, cherries ripen at various times depending upon the particular variety and weather conditions. Many farms open prior to the weekend; some open later. The season lasts nearly a month and is a busy time for us cherry growers. A younger generation is taking over management of some of the farms, bringing new marketing ideas and farming methods that are continually transforming the face of our local agricultural industry. Members of the new wave are continuing the most valuable traditions of the past but are doing so with a new set of tools. Social media is happening everywhere with Facebook, Instagram, and smartphone apps. Our Facebook page has 5,600 regular followers. During cherry season, that swells to more than 100,000.
Harvest Time is riding the wave of growing concern by people for accessing local and sustainable products. They are becoming interested in where their food is coming from. There is worldwide interest in learning about what is taking place in the Brentwood, California farm scene. Our Harvest Time webpage and Instagram are regularly visited by people from all over the United States as well as from places like England, Canada, Indonesia, and even India.
A host of Harvest Time customers are coming to Brentwood just for the experience of actually being in a real orchard, picking fruit off the trees with their own hands, enjoying the fresh air, hanging out with friends and families, and simply spending an hour-or-two making a direct connection with the family-farm culture that was so prominent a few generations ago but is now apparently fading from the earth (except for here in Brentwood).
5 STAR CHERRIES, FOR EXAMPLE
I became associated with Harvest Time six years ago when our 5 Star Cherries farm business set up a U-Pick stand.
I married into the farm business in 2007 when I became the wife of a third-generation farmer, Larry Enos, Jr. Nobody can remember off-hand how long ago Papa Enos began farming, but Larry started as soon as he was old enough to pull hoses in the tomato fields.
Larry grew up loving the farming business and is now the manager. Besides our 100 acres of cherry trees, we have 125 acres of wine grapes and 160 acres of young almond trees. We ship our cherries all over the world.
However, it occurred to us that we were being a little selfish. Why should people in China eat our cherries when our Brentwood neighbors never had a chance to experience their delicious flavor? We grow cherries on three different ranches so we set aside one of them as a U-Pick and joined Harvest Time. Our 5 Star Cherries U-Pick is located off Marsh Creek just west of Sellers. The first year we weren’t sure what to expect from our new adventure, but it turned out to be good; we were busy.
The best part was that we made it a true family business. Larry’s brother and sister-inlaw, Charlie & Leanne, pitched in, as did his sister Cally Stock and her husband Mike, plus Larry’s mom and dad Larry & Paulette Enos.
We always enjoyed getting together for weekend family gatherings. We discovered that the U-Pick was giving us an “excuse” to hang out together. More than that, it was a great opportunity to work together with a common goal. At any time, one or the other of us is usually pregnant; six children have been born into our family since we opened the stand. Our merry times running the U-Pick epitomize the family aspect of our business, which is what Larry likes most of all.
Our seven-year-old Kyson got down to work for the first time last year. He helped me put liner bags in buckets and showed new customers where the best cherries are. At first Kyson had trouble figuring out the business model. When he discovered that people paid us so they could pick our cherries he said, “I don’t think that’s right.”
Each year our little U-Pick has gotten busier than the year before. On opening weekend cars will line up outside our lane for as long as 40 minutes while patiently waiting their turn to pick some of our cherries. Some regulars come every year. We see that their kids are growing from one year to the next. They sometimes have a place in the orchard they particularly like.
From the beginning we could tell that our membership in Harvest Time was paying off, because customers would come to us carrying the map. After finishing, they would drive away while still holding the map and finding directions to their next stop. The cherry harvest is coming up. People will be looking at their maps and charting routes to our U-Picks. We are counting the days until opening weekend. Can’t wait!