As Earl says, “It starts with the soil. If you take the time to care for it, work it, and turn it, the soil will work for you for a long time – not just this season.” Earl’s Organic Produce wasn’t built from a meticulous business plan or a grand vision. An authentic passion for food and pure, fertile soil together fostered what would become the leading regional distributor of organic produce.
In 1975, you could find the founder, Earl Herrick, at Fulton and 10th Street entrance to Golden Gate Park selling fruits and vegetables from a small converted beverage truck. Back then, produce was 5 pounds for a dollar and folks would flock from all over for his famous ugly orange – hideous on the outside, but heaven on the inside. At the intersection of several culturally diverse neighborhoods, Earl got a hands-on understanding of customer service. He recalls offering samples to a variety of customers, from tourists to residents, insisting that in such an engaging atmosphere, “if you weren’t an extrovert, you were done.” This experience served as the foundation of Earl’s produce education, which included a four-barrel coin changer as his cashier and the mild, overcast weather as his refrigerator.
Earl’s journey into fresh produce sales eventually brought him to a Marin-base natural market called Living Foods. There, he spent several years as a produce buyer learning the dynamic, daily operations of retail business and establishing relationships with organic growers who allowed him to buy directly from their farms.
With a dash of luck and chance timing, Earl took an opportunity to open a single stall on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market in 1988. Combining 13 years of retail experience, strong relationships with organic growers, and a passion for good simple food, Earl’s Organic Produce was born. (From Earl’s Organics Website/History)
To listen to an interview with Earl Herrick, click here.
To visit the Earl’s Organic’s website, click here.