Farm Focus: Meet Paul Smit!
We hope you’ve been enjoying the Smit Farm apples the last few weeks.
Paul’s family has been farming since 1969 on their land in Linden, CA. The farm was originally a dairy until the 1980’s when there was a massive surplus of milk and the government paid farmers not to milk for five consecutive years. During these years, one of Paul’s six brothers heard about a
variety called Fuji that was able to thrive in California’s warmer climate. At that time, apple growing was uncommon in CA. Many apple varieties, especially in the 1980’s, required a bare minimum of 400 chill hours with many varieties requiring 700 or more chill hours. Fuji apples require 200-400 hours of chill. So Paul’s Dad went out on a limb and planted 40 acres of Fuji’s, Galas and Granny Smiths. Smit was one of the first farms in CA to plant Fuji’s.
The Smits found that apples were a viable option for their land and climate. Their first harvest year they took their apples to a packing house to be sold in the wholesale market. It became pretty clear to Paul’s Dad that they’d go broke if they didn’t find another market channel for their apples. Someone told them about selling direct to consumers through Farmers’ Markets so they gave it a try.
Connecting directly to their consumers enabled the Smits to continue farming. Paul moved to San Diego in 1998 to help support the farm by developing and expanding their direct to consumer channels in Southern California as well as developing wholesale avenues that were financially viable for their farm.
Paul took over full time management and ownership of the farm in July 2016 after his Dad passed away. Today, Paul oversees all the business and production operations of the farm with Russ & Kristen Fritz, while still managing the 30 Farmers Markets they attend. His brothers Neil and Roy also contribute to the farm’s success, handling many aspects of production and marketing.
The Smits are currently farming 50 acres and are planning to plant an additional 45 acres for cultivation this year. We are happy to be partnering with the Smit’s again!