George J. Adam, president of Innovative Produce, is a fifth generation farmer. Located in Santa Maria, California, Innovative Produce has been one of the largest grower-packers in the region since 2008. In a world where environmentally-friendly aspects of agriculture such as efficiency and sustainability create pathways to success, Innovative Produce is an industry leader.
While Innovative Produce was officially incorporated in 2008, the Adam family has been involved in the farming industry in Santa Maria for five generations. “Innovative Produce is the result of a long line of family farming,” reveals George. “My great-grandfather came over from Scotland and started farming in Santa Maria. The tradition continued with my father and uncle who started growing beans and broccoli after returning from the Korean War. I was the only child of my family to go into farming. I am excited about having my sons and several nephews interested in the industry.”
As an agricultural operation, Innovative Produce takes sustainability seriously and the company’s growing practices reflect this commitment. The company primarily produces broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, romaine and celery.
In addition to Innovative Produce, George and his wife Debbie also own and operate Faith Farming, a company dedicated to the safe and efficient harvesting of the fruits and vegetables that Innovative Produce expends so much effort to grow. Food safety is a top priority for Innovative Produce and Faith Farming, and the companies’ food safety program permeates through every aspect of both operations.
Innovative Produce is at the forefront of food safety and regulations. “More and more people nowadays want to know where their food comes from,” says Adam. “We’re in touch with the environmental community.” The company is one of the most environmentally sustainable and efficient growers in the country. In a recent audit performed by PrimusLabs, Innovative Produce achieved a rating of “excellent to superior.”
Food safety continues to be an integral part in the company’s growing practices, harvest operations and throughout the supply chain. Continued research and development in Innovative Produce’s already world-class food safety practices enables the company to educate the world on efficiency and sustainability.
With a name that includes the word “Innovative,” the company is constantly researching methods of carbon footprint reduction. Innovative Produce is in the process of installing two solar facilities on the farm. With a federal tax credit incentive for solar power users, the facilities will displace $200,000 worth of electricity for Innovative Produce. “Without the tax credit we would still be looking at an eight-year payback by using solar,” explains Adam. “We’re fortunate enough to be able to jump on board with a lot of these new technologies.”
When seeking to maximize water efficiency and reduce bacterial disease, growers often use drip tape in irrigation. A polyethylene material, drip tape can be reused up to 20 times. “It really helped when we learned how to retrieve and put down drip tape,” says Adam. “That was one of the things that really changed our efficiency and environmentally it maximized our water and fertilizer.”
In regards to the agricultural industry, developing and using new technologies is what drives Adam to do what he does. With the creation and development of industrial innovations every year, the transition of the theory into actual application is a challenge Adam is happy take on.
“I’ve worked my whole career and gotten to the point where I can invest time, money and resources into making those changes that can be groundbreaking,” says Adam. “There are all kinds of new technologies out there but it takes hard work to transition the technology into something useful. If I can spend a couple of hours a day working toward that, then I’m happy.”
In the past decade the organic operations at Innovative Produce have experienced considerable growth. The company views this sector of the organization as one with unbridled potential. As a company Innovative Produce is making considerable investments to further knowledge and understanding of organic growing practices.
Innovative produce is not slowing down anytime soon. The company has been expanding at a rate of 10 percent each year and will continue to do so. “I’m looking forward to continuing to develop and use new technologies,” explains Adam. “As long as the market helps us keep this momentum going, we’ll just keep expanding. I’m always looking for good people who are willing to work hard. In the past few years I’ve hired as lot of really great people who all have plenty of experience so that has definitely made life easier.”
The employees are serious about providing produce that exceeds the highest quality and safety standards. As a company it is the goal of Innovative Produce to lead the agricultural industry into a safe, sustainable and healthy future.