Have you ever met a farmer that studied English in college? John Warmerdam breaks the mold when it comes to the usual generational farmer. His intent was to get off the farm and teach English. But, as we all know, these plans don’t always fall into place. John loves farming now, and couldn’t see himself doing anything else. We are so thankful that he has become the farmer he is today, and contributes to the Summeripe family.
Like many other Summeripe growers, farming was in John’s family. His grandfather came to The Valley from Holland in 1911. He had a small farming operation and did what it took to make ends meet. Eventually John’s father, John N. Wamerdam, was farming the family’s land. The land was split between John N. Warmerdam and his brother. Turned out that it wasn’t enough land to provide for his family, so started over and bought some of his own land. In 1973 John’s father had 125 acres. Now the operation has grown to 350 acres of delicious Summeripe Tree Fruit. John and his father are co-owners in the operation and love working together.
John has many early memories of life on the farm. One story he loves to tell is running the box machine in the family’s packinghouse. He got thrown into doing that job when their box mechanic didn’t show up after a few days. John also remembers driving a flat bed to haul in the fruit to be packed. John also appreciated stacking boxes with many of his friends, making it a team effort, and working together to accomplish a goal. He jokes that when you’re the son of a farmer it’s just expected for you to work, and to work hard.
When John got older, he saw how hard his dad had to work, and how little he got time to just relax. John realized that he didn’t want to farm. John wasn’t excited by farming anymore because it was something he did year after year. He went off to college at UC Davis, got his degree in English, and continued to help in the packinghouse on his summers off. Right after his last school year, he came home to the farm not doing well. In 1997 he decided to stick around and help get it back on its feet. He’s been there ever since. John remembers having very few employees because they couldn’t afford it, and feeling like he didn’t know the in’s and out’s of the actual farming, and maintenance that is always involved. One thing that has stuck with John was a moment when he was running the sizer and the sticker machine. He stood for about 5 minutes, listening and watching everything running just as it should be. He felt satisfaction that he had arrived, and he could fix, and maintain things to make it efficient.
Most memorable season for John was in 2012. There was a huge hailstorm that came through, but he was confident, and had peace that they would come through it. He knows if that kind of storm hit ten years earlier it would have put them out of business. John was thankful they were at a place in the business where they could carry on. His favorite thing about farming is the different seasons that are involved. He never gets bored. You harvest, and soon enough you’ll be pruning, and then it’s bloom again. He loves improving every year, and producing better fruit then he did he previous year. John loves White Nectarines, and his favorite variety is the Arctic Mist. The challenges that John faces, is being aware of what needs to be done right now, and what can wait until tomorrow. He’s always so motivated, but has to find that balance of waiting until tomorrow. It’s also hard to keep up with the ever-changing regulations, and office work that comes with the business. Today, John is married to Christiana and they have three girls, Gianna, Katelyn and Gabrielle. He appreciates this lifestyle so he can be there for his kids in their early years. He also loves the fact that he has alleviated his father from a lot of the responsibilities, so he can take time off to take John’s mom lunch while she is working!
John hopes that you can see and taste all his hard work, and that you can appreciate all the hard work he puts in. If you ever get to know John, you’ll see that he is just a down to earth guy that wants to grow fruit that you love.